Monday, December 8, 2008

a native plant garden - part 3

In this last part of the series, I'll be giving a tour through my fountain garden. In this part of the yard I’ve focused on native perennials and flowering shrubs, while mixing in some non-natives plants for extra color. The fountain garden is a simple straight brick path that leads to a small terrace at the back. There is a row of oakleaf hydrangeas on one side and a perennial bed on the other.

Here’s a slide of it before I started, a disorderly mix of weeds and worn out fencing.

And here it is during construction. I started by laying out a gravel foundation for the brick walkway. It's kind of a big project for the average homeowner but it is doable and less expensive than hiring someone to build it for you.

This is the upper fountain terrace with the paving going in and the terra cotta pot that I used for the fountain at the back. Laying bricks is actually kind of fun – kind of like a giant puzzle.

Here the fountain is nearing completion. You can see the fountain surround with fern embossed concrete. The bricks are covered with sand that is being swept into the joints to lock them in place.

and here is the fountain running. Water spills over the top of the pot, fills the shallow circular depression and seeps into the basin below. I like how the fountain gives the birds a place to drink and bathe themselves - as long as my cat isn’t around.

Besides the Oakleaf hydrangeas, some of the other native plants I have in this garden are a variegated kind of leucothoe called Girard’s Rainbow,

and blood root, an early bloomer with pristine white blooms.

It also has distinctive leaves which remain into the summer.

Zenobia , is a shrub with pretty little white bell shaped flowers in the spring,

and rich red color in the fall.

Here are some fall blooming Coral bells.

and this is Green and gold, a pretty little ground cover with yellow flowers.

Tiarella is a groundcover that gets lots of wispy wands of flowers in the the spring,

and goatsbeard is a bit like an over grown astilbe.

One of my favorite plants is Spanish moss (Tilandsia usneoides) -I love the way it gives the garden a Deep South feel. There a few places in the very bottom corner of the state where it grows, like down in First Landing state park in Virginia beach. It tends to disappear over time but it will survive the winter. I order boxes of it from a seller on ebay. I built a trellis for the moss to grow on and mixed in some other non-native Tilandsias which I have to bring in over the winter.

Of course not everything works out as simply as I imagine and I’ve had a few issues with the plantings. Some things have done really well in the shade, like the oakleaf hydrangeas, coral bells, and tiarella, but other things not so much. It turns out even some plants that are advertised as shade loving actually need a bit of sun to really flower well. It’s also doesn’t help that Blue the cat likes to use this bed as a litter box. But I'm sure you all know that a garden is never really finished, and trying new things keeps the things fun.

To read more see:
The Front Yard
The Pond


Cosmo said...

Another great tour, Phillip. The fountain is really beautiful, and I love the sound of it (you should stick a video in sometime so everyone can hear it). Gail at Clay and Limestone--and I think Entangled, too--have really good luck with cyclamen in the shade--I'll look back at their postings and get the cultivar. Beautiful tour.

Phillip Merritt said...

Thanks Cosmo!

tina said...

I think it lovely. I have a ton of shade so it sure helps me out. Cats in the garden-it's okay by me.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if the birds don't help in the disappearing of the Spanish moss. It looks to be a wonderful nest builder. :)

Phillip said...

Hey from another Phillip (and with 2 L's!) - it is a pleasure to discover your blog.

Phillip Merritt said...

Thanks Phillip - you have a great site too. And we have strangely similar tastes in movies.

The Organic Gardener said...

WOW, your yard is GREAT!, I love the fountain. Did you make it from scratch or was it a kit...If you made it would you please post some instructions at some point in time. I have been wanting to do something similar, but your idea is so much better. Thanks. Cosmos told me about your blog. Your site look identical! lol

Jean said...

I loved viewing the before and after shots. And I like the way your fountain drains into that depression. I can see how the birds would love that too. I'm glad I found your blog!

Phillip Merritt said...

Thanks for all the nice comments! I did make the fountain myself and am planning to post a how to at some point. Ang, I wouldn't be surprised if I found a nest with some spanish moss sometime.