Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Diggin' It

One of the best parts of gardening is digging! It's hard, or can be, it's messy, or can be, it's hot sweaty work, or can be, but it's fun! At least when you are done you can feel you've actually had an effect on something. Not like spending 2 hours on the computer trying to pay your phone bill (this morning's entertainment, not) or glazing pots in the studio (good useful work but no payoff until they are fired) or phoning people who really don't want to talk to you... just get out there and dig something up!

It was gorgeous today, sunny, cool, leaves turning red on the maples over my head, and I just felt I had to work off some of the cobwebs I'd picked up the last few days. So I attacked the bit of terracing at the back of the Hillside Garden today. The path, at Studio level, takes a right-angle turn around the Studio to the bottom of the Sand Hill Garden with a steep slope to the left. Under this bit of slope is the huge granite intrusion the builders found when they were digging for the Studio footings. In fact, this lump of granite is why the Studio is slightly off-square in relation to the house. It was either move the rock, tricky since it is attached to China, or move the Studio. Anyway, there isn't much soil there and what there is, I brought in, by wheelbarrow.

Right at the beginning of making this garden I stuck some rescued Yucca plants up there - they seemed to suit. And they've been very happy there, blooming magnificently in June and July and being a good dark focal point in the border. Unfortunately, some Lily-of-the-Valley pips must have come with them and they have been happy there too. Not to mention some seeded in Asters, Japanese Anemones, one lonely Helenium, and any number of weeds. A spurge of some kind went a bit mad there too. So it was a mess, not to mention that a rather nice Bearded Iris, with a soft yellow flower, was looking sad and neglected in among the jumble.

It took me a few hours, but a small section of this area now looks much better:

newly dug-over terrace
The bit I planned to work on is the lower of the two dug-over strips you see here. It was about 6' long and 2' wide, so not huge. It was hard going, though, because the soil there is solid heavy clay and it was packed with Lily-of-the-Valley pips and roots. My plan was to get it ready, then lift the Iris and re-plant it in the new space. But when I came to do it, I realized it would look wrong anywhere but one level higher up, so I had to dig over a second bit the same size. I had a time getting the rocks out, but they lined up nicely and they'll hold the soil back just perfectly. Remember that under all this there is a huge rounded granite outcropping!

Now tomorrow I'm planning to move a brighter yellow Iris over to the left of the pale one, behind the aster you can just see, and then maybe, maybe, add in a bit of a beautiful white Iris I have. Not sure if that won't be entirely too pale, but it might also be quite dramatic. Then I need to think of some short leafy things to put in between the irises and the other things for next year. I don't like looking at the iris foliage in the summer, too shabby. I hadn't planned on having any Bearded Iris, told myself, definitely NO IRIS. But then a friend arrived and said she was splitting her Irises (she's serious about Iris) and here were my share... (She also brought me a pail of strawberry plants and I dutifully planted them and they were doing fine but a bear came and ate the plants so that solved that problem. Bears don't seem to eat Iris.)

Now just so you don't worry that I might run out of digging opportunities, here's a view of the whole 'bit':
rock terrace
Two more levels to do! But no more Lily-of-the-Valley, whoo hoo!


  1. One of the joys of having some land is that you can always set about another gardening project. Who needs the gym when you can dig ground, wrestle rocks, and move tons of earth around? It's always fun to rearrange plants and plan new spaces. Your iris should look lovely next spring.

    1. You are so right! And 'way more fun than a gym! I hope you get to do lots of digging, too.