Continuing with my saga of the changes 2017 has brought to the gardens, next up is the aptly named 'Batting Cage'. As you may recall, in November of 2016, we had the back yard torn up due to our septic tank/drainage field/mound replacement which left us with a lot of mud and dirt where the River Bed and lawns were.
Since we were going to be replanting the lawn and siting the River Bed in a new area, the question came up about the old gazebo. Should it stay or should it go? Cut to the chase, Karen, yes, it did move...(I wrote a three (or forty?) part series on the move, but if you're interested in the really short version, there's a video showing the process: Gazebo Moving: The Video
|The Gazebo in early May before the Big Move|
In the above picture, the gazebo is gone and we are left with an empty feeling. The area needs something, but what? At this point in May, we had not reconfigured the River Bed yet nor planted any grass.
With the gazebo gone, upon entering the back yard, the Quarry, barn and chicken coop areas were all visible at once, which was a bit overwhelming. I prefer to have a bit of mystery in the garden which draws visitors in to see what lies ahead.
In our stash of things Carl has purchased from work for scrap value was a set of five stainless steel drying racks we've had for years. I always walked past them and wondered where we could put them to good use. Now the time had come.
We thought about making an arbor for morning glories and hyacinth beans that would close in the view a little bit and add some dimension and interest. We carried the panels up to the old gazebo site and buried them to a good depth; angling each panel slightly to give the illusion of a slight curve.
|Carl, burying the first of the five panels|
Carl had built the titanium planter a few years ago for Valentine's Day as a gift to me. I thought the design of the planter worked well with the drying racks.
There I am, holding the first three panels in place while Carl takes a photo: Do we like what we see? We're not sure.....yup, it looks like a batting cage, doesn't it?
Ok, so maybe it wasn't the best idea, but we didn't have much money or effort invested yet, so let's keep going and see how this turns out.
Using stainless wire, Carl ties the panels together at each joint. Eventually, we had all five panels installed.
The next step was to plant the area; here I'm planting canna bulbs along the fence with the hope they would grow and form a maroon back drop.
Two of the Girls (chickens) assisted me by raking the dirt smooth with their feet. I rolled the titanium planter into place after planting it with dichondra 'Silver Falls'.
I ended up rolling the planter back out of the area so I could plant my hyacinth beans and morning glory seedlings on the fence. By dark, I was done with the first of the planting.
I couldn't resist putting the lawn chairs right in front. See, I was trying to convince myself this wasn't a baseball diamond, but was instead a garden feature.
The following morning, I transplanted some 'Albomarginata' hostas on what would be the shady side of the wall once the vines grew up the fence.
|The pipes were sunk into the ground from years of sitting around. (The big stainless circle will 'some day' be polished and installed in the garden, too....but I don't know when.....?)|
We still felt like the area needed something else, though, maybe some big urns for structure. My next bright idea was to utilize some very heavy one inch thick side wall stainless pipes which Carl had also purchased as scrap from his work. The pipes had been lying out in the Back Eight for who knows how long; we always wanted to use them somewhere, but didn't know where.
The pipes weighed far too much for us to pick them up unaided, so we incorporated the Super H tractor and lifting straps to haul them to the Batting Cage.
After jockeying for position, backing up and going ahead, and me asking Carl to turn them this way a bit, no, maybe not, come forward.....a little bit south....maybe a little bit northwest?....ok.....I'm satisfied. I think..........we had them where they were going to stay.
We filled each of the impossibly heavy cylinders full of soil so I could plant sweet potato vines in lime green and burgundy, along with a variegated geranium and a miniature King Tut grass.
Every time I watered the pipe planters, the soil level dropped another foot or so; I forget how many times I had to rescue the poor plants which had slid halfway down the pipes. After a week, the settling stopped and the plants were much happier.
As spring went into June, the Batting Cage was starting to take shape. I know we had our doubts about the whole thing, but once in awhile it is fun to branch out and try something entirely different. We had several visitors stop in while we were working on this project and most people (I could tell, even if they didn't say too much) were as doubtful as we were about the 'beauty' of the plan. We couldn't blame them, it was really weird looking.
Here we go, into the end of June, things are growing in a bit more. I planted Dusty Miller from seed along with a 'Queen Red Lime' zinnia which grew to over three feet tall which blended in well with the dark cannas.
Another view coming through between the house and garage.
As the season progresses, things changed.
By the time August arrived, we couldn't see the Batting Cage any longer.
The cannas rose to all-time record heights for me; must have been all the rain we had this summer.
The whole Batting Cage took on a jungle appearance.
By the Booyah party in August, the lawn had come in quite well and you'd never know we'd did some major renovations.
Another reason we wanted to move the gazebo was so we had a place to set up our big circus tent for our annual second Saturday in August booyah party. With the gazebo gone, the tent fit perfectly in the area and we set up tables and benches for guests to be out of the sun (or rain---but so far, we've been lucky with no rain!) while they eat.
So, despite our worst fears, the Batting Cage turned out to be a success. (The booyah party was fun, too; we had a great turnout, around ninety friends, family and neighbors.)
So now, we're into September and here are some pictures I took yesterday:
Even the back side of the Batting Cage is interesting and casts a lot of shade.
Amazing how much plants can change things in just a few short weeks time, isn't it?
|September 9, 2017|
I am not looking forward to removing all the vines from the drying racks after our first frost, but it was fun while it lasted. Once we dig all the bulbs, pull out all the annuals and remove all the vines, if there isn't too much snow on the ground, heck, we could still play baseball. It's a multi-use garden area.