My approach to gardening in difficult areas

Discussion in 'How's It Growing?' started by Nik, Sep 22, 2021.

  1. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    There have been a lot of posts lately about difficult garden spots, etc. I decided to share what I do. We have a very challenging spot in the yard. On top of a granite outcrop, there are only 1-5 inches of heavy clay soil, nothing that I attempted to grow in the past did well..
    So I left it on its own for two years, completely unattended.
    Conditions changed during this period, from very dry and semi-shade, it became very dry and full sun, because we removed two very large oaks.
    And besides the regular weeds, here is what did well.
     
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  2. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    This is the spot, circled in the second photo.
     

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  3. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Sedum sarmentosum (stringy stonecrop) and Persicaria longiseta (Oriental lady’s thumb). The latter is technically a weed, and now past its prime, but I will allow both of them to stay.
     

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  4. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Dennstaedtia punctiloba (hayscented fern), definitely will be allowed to colonize as much space as it wants.
     

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  5. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    And Miscanthus sinensis (Chinese silver grass). I believe they are seedlings from something I tried to eradicate from this spot about five years ago because it was not doing well. But it seems the full sun conditions agree with them. There are about six clumps of decent size now and they are blooming. (In the first picture you can see the rooftop of our garage)
    They must be seedlings from a “zebra”- type cultivar, because one of them has occasional horizontal variegation, although I do not recall what I removed in the past. All of them will stay and I hope I get more seedlings.
    The haircap moss is also doing well with more sun…
    Everything else, including the hundreds of birch seedlings, with be removed very soon.
     

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  6. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Leaving the area completely wild in the past two years has resulted in frequent wildlife encounters. Turkeys, deer fawns, numerous insects, including this one today when I was taking the pictures, it’s about 10 cm long.
     

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  7. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The praying mantis looks like he knows how well he fits in here.
     
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  8. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    European mantis is the state insect of Connecticut.
     
  9. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    Based on a casual observation of Pinterest (for what it’s worth!) —- side yards seem to be the difficulty faced by many

    Yes, the tall but narrow and easy to maintain but fast growing hedge :)

    I recall a person on this forum asking for help with a side shared fence area where neighbor is apparently very casual and poster prefers an outdoor patio seating area - that would be genuinely difficult especially considering the investment

    And condo balconies?

    @Nik your place is beautiful - your rock outcrops are gorgeous. AND I look forward to fall foliage photos on the Virtual Garden Tour thread

    Can you grow heather? Like Scotland heather?
     
  10. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Thank you, @Georgia Strait , yes we are very lucky and the backyard was one of the reasons we chose this house. The moss has done very well this year with more sun.. and fewer sporophytes, that always makes it look better. Some effort of course, to keep it free of weeds and fallen leaves, but not too bad. Once a month I do the “maintenance”.
    I will try to remember to post fall foliage pictures.
    I have not tried growing heather. I am quite sure it will do great, if there were no deer in the area. They will decimate it the moment I plant it..
     

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  11. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Few more pictures from the backyard this afternoon. Rocks, lichen and moss. Less is more..
     

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  12. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    And an old picture from late spring, that I particularly like.
     

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  13. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Yes, everything will be fine with this difficult spot in the yard. I started removing the weeds and birch saplings and I was pleasantly surprised to find several other keepers. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) seedlings, plus a transplanted Eastern white pine, I believe (Pinus strobus) seedling that I thought was a goner because several years ago was stripped bare by some caterpillars, no needles at all. It has recovered nicely and it is now about 2 feet tall. And, shockingly, at least to me, an Azalea seedling, about a foot tall (last five pictures). Completely unexpected, and certainly did not come from our yard. It is heavily damaged by azalea lace bugs, but I hope it will pull through.
    The last picture shows a bug, but I don’t know if it is one of the culprits.. looks different from what I see on searches online.
     

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  14. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    Your autumn colours are starting to emerge @Nik ?

    I have a couple of questions
    About the first photo

    What is the reddish plant in middle area of photo?

    What Gravel do you order (foreground)

    It looks nice

    I understand various terms - and yes I am the type who browses in the gravel area at the big landscape supply!

    I like all the terminology -
    Crusher Dust

    3/4 Minus

    Etc

    Sounds like we need a coffee roasters or a microbrew with names and labels like the terms out of Gravel Pits :)

    (I attached Nik photo for reference to my questions in this post)
     

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  15. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    No fall color yet..
    The pink weed is Persicaria longiseta.
    No gravel anywhere in the picture. It is a solid piece of pink granite covered with bluish/green lichen.
     
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  16. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    Oh now I see that it’s a large outcrop Stone

    Is that Angel fishing rod in background (tall grass)

    Dierama pulcherrimum (Angel's Fishing Rod)
    I forget Latin name

    It grows well on street plantings in Portland Oregon

    And here near the ocean in Vancouver BC
     
  17. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Close up of the lichen.
     

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  18. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Miscanthus sinensis, post #5 above.
     
  19. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    I know you don’t like grasses, but you may want to reconsider this Chinese/Japanese one. They look stunning in the sun.
     

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  20. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Partially cleaned up area (green oval) and remaining weedy area that has to be tackled (yellow circle).
     

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    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  21. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Because of this posting, I paid attention to these grasses today in front of a condo building, wondered if they were the same as yours, but I see you haven't named yours. Do you have a name?
    And I wondered if the short ones were the same species as the taller ones, maybe a different cultivar?
    Here is the short one.
    Grass1_499Broughton_Cutler_20210928_144612.jpg Grass1_499Broughton_Cutler_20210928_144657.jpg Grass1_499Broughton_Cutler_20210928_144710.jpg
    And the taller one, which has been trimmed on the sides.
    Grass2_499Broughton_Cutler_20210928_144740.jpg Grass2_499Broughton_Cutler_20210928_144934.jpg Grass2_499Broughton_Cutler_20210928_144944.jpg Grass2_499Broughton_Cutler_20210928_144958.jpg
     
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  22. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Miscanthus sinensis. There are many many cultivars. Mine are seedlings on the short side, about 3 feet tall to the top of the flowers. I believe they are all the same.
    What a lovely modern design! I love the style, but I disagree with the trimming of the tall ones. Although, I understand why they did it, the grass gets just as wide as it is tall and probably would spoil the clean lines look.
     
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  23. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    They are probably the same, just different amount of sun. The tall ones seem to be receiving plenty, but the short ones appear to be under a tree, which is not optimal. And I can see from the fallen leaves and few branches in the distance that the tree is a tulip poplar. They provide very heavy shade.
     
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  24. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Mission more or less accomplished.. This is the current result. (Pictures taken moments before sunrise.)
    I don’t understand why, but the pink color in the photos becomes much duller when they are uploaded here. It is actually brighter and more vibrant.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 8, 2021
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  25. Nik

    Nik Rising Contributor

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    Plus, just for @Georgia Strait , few pictures showing why I don’t power wash the rocks in the yard. I love the ‘ancient’ look that the lichens provide.
     

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