My Gardening Nightmare

Happy Monday from Flowerkeepers Garden and not that we’re counting but there are only 51 days until spring!! I don’t know about any of you but the countdown sure is helping me get through this winter and the “polar vortex” sitting over Pennsylvania. I can’t help but sit and daydream about warm weather, gardening and to spend hours poring over my stack of this years seed catalogs. There are so many new varieties and colors to choose from that it makes it almost difficult to decide what I want to try this year.

I haven’t posted on my blog for a bit for a combination of reasons. This weather has a grueling effect on me mentally every year and it zaps my get up and go out from under me. I am completely intolerant of the cold so hibernation is my only option. That may have been part of the reason I haven’t sat down to write but I may have had a period of blog fog too. Aside from all of that I am a perpetual procrastinator, which if I let go unchecked wreaks havoc on my never ending to do list! So this morning I made a conscious decision to sit down and tell you about the project ahead of me this spring that has my brain spinning every time I contemplate it. I’m actually hoping I get some input and ideas from you to help me with it’s successful completion. I honestly don’t know where to start?!

This is one of the many banks that surround my home and this particular bank is behind my garage. It’s very steep, a dangerous undertaking to keep trimmed and filled with a rocky, part sand, part clay soil. Without going into a long dissertation, I came upon a large number of a variety of hostas this past summer during the hottest days of the year. I have been wanting to do something with this eyesore of a bank since I moved into my home. I decided that the hostas would give me a good start on some kind of, perhaps rock garden type, flower bed. When I brought the hostas home I found them the shadiest spot close to the water hose, made every effort to keep them protected from the sun and to keep them watered until I could put them in their permanent location in the garden. I did my best but the hot summer was wearing on them and they needed to go into the ground. So that is what I did! But, and here comes the gardeners nightmare, the only prep I did to the bank was use the weed trimmer and take all the foot high grass and weeds down to the soil. I didn’t want to spray anything so as not to further risk losing these beautiful plants that I had been given. I planted them all on this bank, basically on my hands and knees, fortifying the soil directly encountering each of them. Any idea what a mess I had going into the fall?

After

I guess it doesn’t look too awful in the photo but let me tell you what a mess. The good news is that all of the hostas seemed to have survived the torture I put them through. The bad news is their beauty is surrounded by every unwanted weed and grass known to man. In my bit of amateur backyard gardening experience I have tried several homemade weed killers that did nothing to forward my gardening progress. I know I can go to the garden center and purchase a spray that they will claim is safe for humans and animals, of which I have five that roam the property at their leisure. The problem with all of that is I am still going to have to go out there and again literally crawl on my hands and knees to accomplish any of my goals for this bed this year. In my mind the only course of action is to start at one end and hand weed my way to the other which is the gardeners nightmare of nightmares in my mind. But because I can envision how pretty this bank will be when I am finished I will muster up and do what I have to do. I was hoping that if I shared my gardening horror story with all of you that you could give me your objective opinions and advice. Any and all suggestions would be welcomed and appreciated.

So I think for this chance encounter with you I will leave it at that and hope that you will share with me some of your ideas to inspire me and help me see this beautiful bed come to fruition. I know it will be realized but in my mind the journey from point A to point B is overwhelming. I’m not afraid of hard work because it does a body good but any steps to make life a little simpler would be welcomed! And as for today stay positive, think Spring, and take a walk through your garden!

Flowerkeeper

14 thoughts on “My Gardening Nightmare

  1. Well, I am just a horticulturist, not a landscape designer. . . . and I am on the other side of the continent, so I do not know what does well there. Because slope stabilization is often a priority for us here, I would be inclined to cover the ground sooner than later, and than think about the shrubbier material. For our bare hillside, I used the common freeway iceplant (that is not really an iceplant). It would not survive there, but something comparable could be useful. I like how it keeps the weeds down.

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      1. That is what I like about the freeway iceplant. Zonal geraniums are about the same. I just process the pruning scraps into cutttings and plug them where I want them this time of year (or after the threat of hard frost).

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    1. Thank you so much for your reply! Slope stabilization is very important to me also. My garage is roughly sitting 3 feet in front of this hillside. Is the ice plant a type of ground cover? What do you suggest to use to rid the hillside of unwanted vegetation??

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      1. Real iceplants are very colorful in bloom, but not often used to cover large areas. The freeway iceplant does not bloom as profusely, and has a relatively coarse texture, but covers the ground very well and very densely. It naturalized on beaches everywhere, and is thought to be all that keeps Sand City from blowing away. Unfortunately, it would not likely survive there (or you would already be familiar with it).
        I am not certain I would want to get rid of the weeds right away if they are stabilizing the soil. If the slope is already reasonably stable, I might cover it with a thick layer of chips from a tree service. Unfortunately, I do not know what ground cover plants live there, so can not make recommendations.

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  2. I had a hill side, a bit smaller that I terraced. You would need to purchase rock or beams. I used 12×12 beams given to me. It is work but we’ll worth the effort. Start at the bottom Place firstcretainer wall at base of bank and cut into the hillside a bit and flatten a bed 2 to 3 feet wide plus the width of your next retainer wall. Place your retainers. Angle them in a little towards hillside as they tend to push out with force of dirt. Many shallow terraces are easier to construct than fewer tall walled ones. My wall was a foot high. After placing first wall pull soil above wall up against the wall and flatten second bed. Continue on up the hillside. In the middle of my hill I put flat rocks culled from property and ditches in the bed instead of plants to make a set of stairs. Weed as you create terraces and plant with whatever you want. Good luck.

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