Project Site: Driveway Bed

Driveway Bed, Mid-March 2021.

In mid April 2019, the strip alongside the gravel drive was the first garden bed I established since moving into the house. After staring at the spot awhile, I decided I wanted something to visually separate the driveway and frame in the yard, so I came up with the idea of a fence using branches freely available from the back of our property and the wire fencing left behind from the previous owners stored in the shed.

April 2019; selecting branches and cutting posts to size.
Lining up the posts and the wire to the holes.
Section of finished fencing. Artie sits in the background in a non-supervisory capacity.

The biggest kudos goes to my husband who did all the sweat equity of digging out all the holes for the posts. It was a challenging area with layers of dirt, gravel, random buried brick pieces, and clay deposit spots. That fence line was a BEAST.

The fence was also how we came to meet our next door neighbor by peaking his curiosity. He later returned with an offering of a spool of wire to help secure sections of the wire fencing which turned out to be really helpful in spots.

After the fence was up, I used old red brick (more leftovers from the previous owners – can you tell I like repurposing things?) to weigh down cardboard (no-dig bed), and later to edge the bed.

Interweaving life with the garden: I remember how much I was looking forward to picking up bags of mulch to fill this bed in on Memorial Day weekend and start planting things. And then the Friday morning of that weekend, I took a pregnancy test (because I’d been feeling an odd kind of sick all week) that confirmed my condition (an unexpected but happy surprise!). Morning sickness hit me like a Mac truck, and suddenly I couldn’t manage a damn thing without help. Friends joined us on our trip to Lowes, and helped us load up the cart and car with bags of mulch.

The first thing I planted in this bed were Canterbury Bells, from seed. There were four spots for plants, one turned out to be an imposter native weed plant. Of the three legit Canturburies, only two actually came to bloom the following year (the third rosette didn’t thrive and died off – too shady and I suspect the soil was too acidic soil being right next to the pines).

Canterbury Bell planting spots.
Oh sweet babies! Clear plastic 2-liter soda bottles make EXCELLENT cloches for direct-sow seeding.
Growth as of end of August 2019.

I was hoping they would go to seed at the end of their bloom, but that time around they didn’t take. I’d like to try Canterburies again, and this time do a staggered planting so every year something is blooming. I also wonder if having the mulch got in the way of allowing the plant to self-seed. Lots to revisit and learn.

After lying dormant over the winter, the Canterburies shot up in height through April/May and began to bloom by mid-June 2020.
I love how big the Bells are!
In full bloom end of June 2020.
The Pink Canterbury Bell was the second to bloom coming into July 2020.

Over time I’ve been wobbling back and forth on what I want to do with this bed – tall cottage-style flowers, or herb bed? At the moment, I’m leaning more towards cottage-style flowers and doing herbs in planters. I still haven’t solidified a “vision” or concrete design idea for this space (though I think I’m getting close to) as I’m still experimenting to see what I’m able to grow, observe how things look, etc. Currently from sidewalk to road, I have: Shasta Daisies, Purple Coneflower, Rosemary, Catnip, two Dalmatian Peach Foxgloves on either side of a climbing Rose bush I’m trying to train (and not kill), with Saffron bulbs in front, then a Hydrangea and a cluster of Russian Sages.

Relocating this little sad twig of Rosemary to this bed was a ‘Hail Mary’ if ever there was one…
…but clearly it was a good call as it DID start to thrive by July 2020. It and the Catnip (right, also a nearly-dead case relocated here) both wound up thriving and growing quite sizeable in this spot.
Left to Right: Shasta Daisies, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Rosemary, Catnip. The blue tupperware was sugar water and borax with eggo waffle for ant bait & killer as I had a couple spots develop hills. It was very effective.
I relocated the climbing rose from it’s original planting place elsewhere on the property. Purchased originally from Lowes Summer 2018, it’s been a great climber, but as of yet, even relocated in 2020, no blooms yet. Maybe this will be the year.
Couldn’t resist getting a hydrangea plant. Purchased June 2020, it’s flowers were originally blue, but in the partial shade of the pine, you can already see it started to change pink/purple from the acid in the soil. I’m glad it’s happy there!
One of two Dalmatian Foxgloves, purchased summer 2020. This one bloomed, the other hasn’t yet – maybe this year it will. A little shorter than I anticipated, but still lovely.

At present, I’m anxious to see how things faired over the winter, what will come back and thrive, and what hasn’t made it. This year I may also try my hand at experimenting with organic fertilizers or soil amendments. So far I’ve just wanted to start more simply and not be overwhelmed by chemistry.

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