Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spring Crazies Part Deux

We're off and running in the garden.  And I mean running.  It's supposed to rain today.  But at least some daffodils are blooming.

Remember I said we are thinking about downsizing again?  We walked all around the Formal Garden yesterday and decided if we took the perennial bed out that goes around the entire outside of the garden it would cut down on a lot of work.  The bed is too big and too wide and too wet and too WEEDY.  We started digging plants on Friday afternoon.  The first one to go was our heirloom yellow ladyslipper that Carl's late Grandpa Henry gave us when we were first married 32 years ago.  We very, very carefully lifted the entire clump and transplanted it to the Woodland Bed.  We made two plants out of it and put it in two different locations, and hope they both survive and thrive.

When we built the Formal Garden back in 1988, we didn't know what we were doing.  We were young and wanted a sunken 'rock garden' so we hauled in a whole bunch of rocks and dug a hole and lined it with the big granite rocks from my father's rockpiles and our neighbors.

We didn't realize that a rock garden is not a garden ringed by rocks until much later.  But by then, it was too late.  This bed is about 3' wide and 150' long which is TOO long for 53 year old me.  There are daylilies, iris, lilies, balloon flowers, liatris, peonies, daffodils, crocus, tulips and way more other stuff in there that will all need new homes.  Gads!
I was standing in the dome when I took this picture.  The biggest part of this job, after moving all the plants, will be moving all the big fieldstones AGAIN.  I know, I know, this sounds insane (and it is) but we can use the 200+ big rocks in the hosta beds to hog up room naturalize that area.  The rocks always looked far too stiff and formal the way they are now.  But like I said before, we didn't know any better.
I know it's kinda hard to see, but there are two shovels sticking up in the background which gives a fairly good indicator of how big some of these rocks are.  And I want to move them.   What I want to replace them with is flat limestone like the walls you see in the foreground.  Then it would match.  And we'd be done.  We'd have nice big granite rocks situated in the other flower beds hogging up room making it look like a naturalized boulder bed and in the formal garden we'd have nice flat walls with grass to mow.  (And no more weeding a 150' long perennial bed.)

Ah, but first I have to get all the perennials dug out and then figure out a way to get all the rocks out of the formal garden.  But see, this is going to cut down on work.  It really is. 

When we originally built this garden 23 years ago, we tried to get as many big rocks as possible, but exhausted the local supply and ended up going with two rows of granite rocks at varying heights to finish it up.  On the west side of the garden, there are 123 rocks which are much smaller than the other 150+ rocks on the other three sides.  I think I can move these smaller rocks by myself.  (Famous last words.)
There, we've been all the way around.  Dang, I'm tired already. 

This picture was taken in July 2010, but as you can see, you can't see the rocks behind the plants anyway and everything is so overgrown and needs work.

It will still be a sunken garden, and still formal.....just not so high-maintenance. 

Stay tuned for more updates for How Karen Got This Job Done.  And keep your fingers crossed for me.  This is going to take me the rest of the gardening season.  I can see it already.  Maybe into next year, too.  
Maybe I should just trash this plan?  Burn the blueprint in my head??
Could my dreams of downsizing go up in smoke as quickly as the grasses we cut down yesterday?  I sure hope not...

But then I noticed two birds sitting in the trees across the road, and thought, wow, what big birds they are.  When I ran and got the camera with the telephoto lens I realized they were vultures.  I hope they aren't waiting for me to tip over and die.
Or do they know something I don't?

The vultures are circling.

I'm scared.


Lona said...

Girl you have got a lot of plant moving to do. I love that long bed but I can see where it would be a job to keep it up. The big rocks will look better in the Woodland bed and limestone walls will look more formal. Looks like the tractor and you are going to get a work out this summer. Every time I see that Domed garden I think how pretty it is. You all did such a wonderful job creating it.

FlowerLady said...

Dear Karen ~ I am amazed whenever I read about your gardens, and what you and Karl have created is truly a work of art, but does entail a lot of hard work to maintain.

I know what you mean about downsizing, although, I've just created another little garden area, yikes. I'm 62 and the work doesn't get any easier, in fact you start realizing you can't do as much as you could. We just have to do what we can, cut back when we need to and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us each and every day.

Vultures are some of the ugliest birds I've ever seen. At least they only go after dead meat.

Hang in there and don't work too hard.

Love and hugs to you and yours,


Randy Emmitt said...

Perspective from a 54 yo strong hard working man. Those are not rocks my dear they are boulders! I hope you have some kind of tractor or something to move them with. Hernias are not much fun. The list of plants tell me it is a lovely garden weeds or no weeds.

Alison said...

Oh Karen, what a huge chore you have taken on. That's a lot of plants to move. And rocks.

I have always loved your domed garden, it is so pretty! I totally applaud your efforts at downsizing. I want to enlarge my garden space by moving out into the front yard, but I don't want to give myself more work than I can handle. Maybe by the time I've finished the back, I'll be too old and decrepit to want more garden beds.

Rosemary said...

Oh my back hurts just thinking of trying to move those ( rocks )Boulders!I can totally understand 150 feet is a lot of garden bed..... especially when weeds get in.. looking forward to the progress

Missy said...

Seems a lot of work to create less work, you'll be glad once it's done. Less time on maintenance, more time enjoying the garden.

Zoey said...

OMG, Karen, I cannot imagine moving all those rocks!

I thought the border looked great in 2010 even though you could not see the rocks.

But I do understand trying to make less work for the future. I am trying to do the same.

I will be eagerly watching to see what you end up doing!

Gatsbys Gardens said...


I think you are very wise to be thinking less maintenance. We moved from a large property some years back to a much smaller lot, but I think I have more plants than I did before. I just planted every spot out with no room in between.


El Gaucho said...

I might be concerned as well if the vultures started circling overhead. As long as all the work and heavy lifting pays off in reduced maintenance down the road, it will all be worth it.

Darla said...

I'm just picking my chin up off the floor over here....good gravy! I know that whatever you decide your gardens will be the envy of us all!