By Erin Huffstetler | 06/08/2020 | 1 Comment
This post may contain affiliate links. View our disclosure.
It’s been 14 months since my last office garden update, so I have lots to catch you up on.
If you’ve been following our progress on this project, you’ve probably already spotted some pretty big changes in that picture at the top of the post.
Like the fact that our office is now a different color, and the fact that there’s no grass in sight.
Here’s a before picture for comparison. It was taken around this time last year.
We didn’t even realize the porch was missing a column, until we got ready to paint. Ha!
Aaron built a new column. Then, we painted our office the same color as the house and garage. It helps to unify all the buildings on our property.
As you’ll see in a bit, we aren’t actually done painting. Finishing is on my July to-do list.
I’m working towards removing all the grass in this part of our yard, so I spent this spring taking up the grass and weeds bit by bit. Since tilling tends to bring a lot of weed seeds to the surface, I just used my hori hori knife to remove the sod.
It took longer, but hopefully it’ll cut down on my weeding.
This area is shaded by several dogwood trees, so I’ve been planting things that thrive in low light.
This bed to the left of the porch only had a single fern in it at the start of last gardening season (the one in the back right corner). But look at it now. I lucked into several clearance hostas. And I was given that big hosta in the front right corner, plus the fern next to it. Remember when I got invited to come dig all the plants out of someone’s garden last summer? That’s where those came from.
Before I show you the rest of the things I’ve planted in my shade garden, let’s zoom out a second, so I can show you how the privacy hedge we planted last spring is doing.
We started with small, one to two-foot-tall Spartan Junipers to save money (The three to four-foot-size costs more than twice as much).
And we’re still happy with that decision. They’ve already grown a ton.
This is what they looked like a year ago. Based on their average yearly growth, they should completely close in our yard within four years.
Last summer, we added a row of pink hibiscus inside our Juniper hedge. It came from that garden that I was invited to come dig up. They had a single hibiscus that had never been divided. I was able to get 12 plants out of it, and I’m happy to say they all survived transplanting.
It would have cost me $600 to buy that many hibiscus, so I feel really lucky to have gotten them for free.
While we’re on this side of the yard, let me show you how my rock-edged garden bed is doing. It’s in the only full-sun area in this portion of our yard.
There was already a daylilly bed in this spot, when we bought the property, but I expanded the bed twice, and added the rock edging.
To create more visual interest and long-season color, I worked on adding colorful perennials to the bed last year.
I found some plants on clearance, and got more from that garden I dug up.
The Russian Sage and Canna Lillies were clearance finds.
The Mexican Petunias came from that garden.
It’s exciting to see everything filling in this year, and the daylillies now serve as the beautiful backdrop that I envisioned.
The far end of that garden bed receives dappled light for most of the day, so I created a new bed last week, and planted it with bareroot hostas.
I plan to add more shade-loving plants over time. That’s a pink astilbe in the galvanized tub. It came from that garden I dug up.
And just to give you an idea of where I’m at with this project… that’s all the grass that remains. I’d love to have it all up by the end of the season. It just depends on whether I can come up with enough sun/part-sun plants to fill the space.
I also plan to continue the path in this direction, once I have enough flagstones. So far, I haven’t had to buy any.
Alright, now that you’ve seen that side of the yard, let’s flip back over to the shady portion.
This is the current view from the front porch.
It’s my favorite spot in our whole yard, and I expect to love it even more, once we have a 10-20-foot wall of Junipers closing it off from the rest of the world.
That’s variegated loriope (monkey grass) planted on both sides of the walkway. It came from that garden I dug up. I feel like I’ve said that a million times in this post already, but that’s because it was a mega haul. My neighbor and I made multiple trips and hauled plants out by the car load. I feel so lucky to have been given that opportunity. I definitely wouldn’t be as far along with this project otherwise.
This is the path that leads around to the side of the house and another porch.
And those Elephant Ears? You guessed it. They came from that yard I dug up. It was a single plant that had never been divided. Look how many plants I was able to make.
And look how big the leaves are. I can’t wait for them to fill in.
To minimize weeding, I’ve been planting a dense understory of ferns and hostas. You can easily pay $15 (or more) per plant, but I’ve only been paying $2-3 a plant. That’s because I’m planting bareroots. It may take a little longer for the plants to mature, but it saves a ton.
So far this year, I’ve planted 29 hostas and 50+ ferns.
This is one of the wood ferns that I planted.
I’ve also been transplanting shade plants from other parts of our yard, like this Solomon’s Seal …
this purple shamrock …
and this strawberry begonia …
And I also scored a bunch of pink astilbe from that garden I dug up.
Oh, and this garden bench is also a new addition to our shade garden. It was given to us last winter.
If you follow the path around to the side of the house, this is the current state of that garden.
Normally it would be awash with color this time of year, but a blackberry winter, followed by a scorching hot June has the plants a bit off schedule at the moment. And it sure hasn’t helped that a certain gardener (me) has been spending too much time digging and not enough time watering.
I’ll post more pictures once the daisies, bee balm and other summer flowers start blooming.
Still, I’d say it’s come a long way from this before picture.
Here’s what that flower bed looks like from the porch. It’s pretty crispy at the moment, but there’s a little more color on this side, thanks to the clearance perennials that I added last year.
Oh, and I added a new chair to the porch this spring.
It’s a metal Windsor chair that I stripped and repainted.
Drawing your attention back to the side garden … you may remember, I was working to increase the height of this hedge last year.
I’d say we’ve made good progress. It’s still kind of thin at the bottom from years of overpruning and being choked out by invasives, but it gives us more privacy, at least.
And now to update you on our very first garden project at the office.
We bought the property in the fall of 2018, and planted new hollies to extend our existing row that first spring. Now, two years have passed, and they’re grown a bunch.
They still haven’t caught up to their big brothers, but give them a few years.
To date, we’ve spent $150 on perennials and $1,093.94 for the Juniper hedge (which includes the Junipers that we bought for our backyard). I’d have to do some digging to see what we paid for the hollies.
We’ve gotten thousands of dollars in plants for free. And all of the rocks and statues came from curb piles. Putting this garden together on the cheap has been a fun challenge.
So what’s next? Aside from adding more plants, this summer we plan to mulch the new beds, replace the gutters on our office, build a surround to hide the HVAC condenser unit and repair the trellises on both porches. I’ll let you know how it goes.