Saturday, May 31

Saturday Project: The Bordeaux Garden

Like (too) many days this spring, Saturday was forecast to bring occasional rain but instead showered us with lots of sunshine. I sleep like the dead, so I cannot attest to the severity of our weather overnight, but my friend Amy who lives nearby said that it rained mightily in the wee hours. So the plants did get a good watering, at least.

The mix of sunshine and a deep drink coaxed one of the 'Ivory Queen' allium karataviense to start blooming. Here you see it with wooly thyme, a blueberry, and the orange tubes of firecracker penstemon... this combo was the first thing I noticed when I headed out to the garden for some project work:

The main project for today was to stain the posts for the grape arbor, and hopefully get them all secured up in their Groundmaster sleeves. I also wanted to set the last of the stones in the little patio beneath the arbor.

On the way to the back corner of the yard, I couldn't help but notice how cute the variegated lemon thyme (which is amazing on chicken and fish) looked, mingling with the dianthus I got from Mom's garden:

When I finally settled in to work, the staining went pretty quickly. I knew that I would be two posts short of what I needed for all of my trellising projects, and discovered quickly that the tall ones for the grape arbor are the missing posts. For now, I put two short posts up but did not secure them, both to see how the stain would look on a full arbor and also to more easily stain the shorter posts that do not yet have an anchoring system set up.

Luckily, I had cut the grapevine back so much last year that it was relatively easy to stain the post it had been climbing. I was able to just detach the nails, stain the post, and then reattach the nails without too much harm to the grape:

The beautiful shrub center stage above is 'Diablo' purple ninebark, physocarpus opulifolius. Earlier this spring, I was lamenting that I already had 'Diablo' because I was so taken with the spring color of 'Coppertina,' but right now I feel completely satisfied with my choice.

'Diablo' seems to like this position better than its previous one--maybe the soil was too rich in the heavily amended bed where it previously resided? The clusters of white flowers almost look fuzzy, as you can see here on a branch that leans out over the oregano that I really need to get harvested:

The rest of the stones were dug into the ground for the patio, and I replanted the two freebie ferns ('Ghost' and 'Wildwood Twist,' I think) that lived through the winter. I cut up two little pint-sized pots of leptinella and tucked 9 chunks of varying size in between the stones at the shadier back end of the arbor patio.

Once that was finished, I weeded and mulched all around. At this point, it was very close to sunset, so please forgive the washed-out pictures from here on. My old digital did the best it could do with little light, in the hands of a photographer who hates to use the flash! But even with bad photos, you can tell the whole garden looks better with some fresh (albeit from last year's yardage) mulch:

Did you notice the wide berth that I left for the hosta? This is a NOID hosta that I snagged from work, but if it isn't 'Sum & Substance' then it's a kissing cousin. It won't get enough sun to be bright gold here, but its big leaves will still be a nice chartreuse and provide a light background for the ninebark.

This space will be fairly dark once the arbor is complete and the grapevine clamors over it, so I put some trashpicked garden art in the corner to brighten things up a bit. Whoever broke this pedestal into two did so pretty cleanly, so I snagged both pieces from the curb. I am considering planting a small shade-loving annual of some kind, or maybe some of my black mondo grass, in the smaller piece you see to the right of the larger piece and the fern:

So far, I'm really thrilled with the way this corner is shaping up. My one concern in looking at these pictures is that... well... it might just be a little too pretty for me! But the pinky flowers of the chives and the ninebark will be done soon, and the gorgeous white blackberry flowers will (I hope) turn into juicy goodness.

And maybe I'll add something edgy at the end of the sidwalk on the right... or paint one of my trashpicked wooden window frames in a funky color and add it to the fence behind the arbor. That would give you something to focus on when you're looking over the Japanese garden and through the viewpoint under the dwarf cherry tree:

Or, maybe by the time the arbor is completed and I have hung a few funky lanterns from it, that will be all I need to make me happy. We'll see.

By the way, my apologies to those of you who were expecting to see a French-inspired garden because of the post title. It struck me as I was staining that 'Bordeaux,' which is the name of that particular stain color, was a great choice for a grape arbor. And it cracked me up to think of my little corner of grapes, grasses, humble herbs and funky shade plants having such a grand-sounding name... so the 'Bordeaux' garden it is!


Kerri said...

You've been working hard, Kim! I love the way your 'Bordeaux' garden is shaping up. You must be feeling satisfied after accomplishing so much :) The ninebark is lovely with your 'snagged' hosta.
I was smiling over your previous 'name' post and the high school beau calling you the 'Arctic Queen'. High school boys can be pains in the neck :)
You have so many lovely plants in your garden. I planted the Jack Frost Brunnera last year and love it. Isn't spring wonderful? Happy gardening!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have been a busy bee Kim. It is all looking good. Soon you can sit back and enjoy all your work.

I like your pedestal. I have one very similar. It is plaster and broke quite easily after being out in the weather. I use it as art now.

That arbor is striking with it being stained. A nice contrast to the fence.

I like all the blooms too. Lovely.

SMC said...

This is the second time you have mentioned 'Ivory Queen' allium karataviense. I MUST have some of this.

Anonymous said...

Kim, I honestly laughed out loud at your comment that this corner was too pretty! It is indeed pretty but also elegant. Maybe a big ugly gargoyle on the pedestal will darken the mood further. I need a gargoyle myself come to think of it or maybe a Greenman on the wall to go with the grape vines.

Anonymous said...

That Diablo is quite striking. I can see you thinking the garden is too pretty, but I just love it. Purple and green (even if it's more burgandy than purple)!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I love to see garden projects getting done. I wish that was something that happened around here. Your corner garden is coming along nicely, with the stain matching the Physocarpus. Mine's in bud yet, but yesterday I found all these large, soft reverted sprouts. I cut them out b4 thinking about taking a photo of them. Has your ever done that?

Anonymous said...

Great work you did there, Kim. I particularly like your colours there.
And I envy you your rain. I don't feel like doing anything around here because you need a pickaxe to get into the soil.

gintoino said...

Looking good kim! I like the color of the "Diablo" Physocarpus a lot. I don't have nothing like that in my garden. By the way, mot related with the vordeaux garden, but what are those blue flowers in the last picture?

Unknown said...

Thanks, Kerri! My satisfaction is tempered a bit by knowing how much more I have left to do, though, I admit. And 'Jack Frost' is really a beauty, I agree.

Greenbow Lisa, soon I can do what?! Sit back and enjoy instead of working? How does that happen? ;) I think that the pedestal is plaster, now that you mention it. I will definitely bring it back inside for the winter.

SMC, I wonder if I can dig up multiplying bulbs, or save seeds for you somehow? I'll have to look into this a bit...

Layanee, that thought never struck me until I looked at the pictures, and actually thought "the p-word" about the garden! lol. Gargoyles... I love gargoyles... that's not a bad idea. :)

Heather, 'Diablo' is a beauty. The exfoliating bark is nice on it, too, but I'm going to have to watch and keep mine cut back so it doesn't outgrow the space... and only the older branches have the cool bark. That will be a total tradeoff that I'll be walking a fine line with over the next few years.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, I have PLENTY of unfinished projects that I'm not showing, if that makes you feel better!!! And didn't you notice the unstained fence behind the arbor?! :)

The arbor stain is funny in that it matches the physocarpus in the darkness/shadow, and looks more like the darker pink in the flowerheads when it's sunny.

I haven't seen any soft, reverted sprouts on my ninebark, but I appreciate the heads-up. I'm going to keep an eye out for them for sure.

Corinna, thanks! I needed a pickaxe at my old house because of the compacted clay, so I know of what you speak. Definitely a challenge!

Thank you, gintoino! I emailed you the answer, but for anyone else who is wondering, those blue flowers at my 'Caradonna' salvia. They are one of my favorites, but they only look blue in the setting sunlight... otherwise they are a deep purple. And very easygoing.

Frances, said...

Hi KIm, I thought the title meant you had a dark red leaf and flower theme in the garden. Diablo fits anyway. The stain color is perfect, it looks wonderful. I love that penstemon and will have to check it out, we have found them to grow well in the old gravel driveway of the house next door that is now our garage, pure gravel and compacted clay. I like the idea of a Bacchus green man for your Bordeaux spot.

Unknown said...

Frances, I do have lots of red leaf and flower plants in the yard, too. And there is a lot of self-seeded atriplex hortensis that counts as well.

I really like the idea of a bacchanalian garden. I just need a serpent, a fig tree, some ivy... :)

chuck b. said...

Is it me or have you been stingy with the backyard garden pics? It seems like it's always front yard garden, but now we've got a backyard with trees and grapes and physocarpus! (Physocarpus is awesome; collect 'em all!)

What color does the Physocarpus turn when the grape leaves turn red?

Love the Bordeaux stain. Love the bacchanalian garden idea.

Unknown said...

I'm so busted! Chuck, I have definitely been stingy with the backyard garden pics... because the backyard on a whole has looked like crap. There, I've admitted it. And I'm working on making it better, so you should see more picks soon. *grin*

By the way, the physocarpus turns this color that doesn't know whether it's hot pink or hot red... the whole little corner will look like a gloriously over-the-top bonfire back there in the fall! lol.

threecollie said...

Just happened to stumble upon your blog while researching for a newspaper column. Have to get back to work, but I will surely return when I have more time to read. Your gardens are spectacular and your photos terrific!

Anonymous said...

Kim, what wonderful progress you've made. That hosta corner is really going to be dynamite once they fill in and mature -- beautiful!


meresy_g said...

That looks awesome! Must get me some Physocarpus! and the stain just sets everything off. Especially that lime green hosta. I totally would want to hang out back there.

lisa said...

LOVE what you're doing with the Bordeux! Heh...I can see you with some gargoyles to "fight the pretty". That hosta sure does look like 'Sum and Substance', now you just need some cute mini's to go with it! :)

Annie in Austin said...

Well, at least you let us in for the great unveiling, Kim! How handy that the grapes on the arbor will sort of fluff out and 'disappear' the neighboring house.

When you showed the pedestal I didn't think gargoyle, although that's a cool idea, but of some sort of demon or devil because of the wonderful 'Diablo', maybe. Or perhaps a resale store could produce one of those Barbie makeup heads. How would it look on a pedestal, painted alabaster or black or... bordeaux?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Roses and Lilacs said...

I hadn't thought of naming my garden beds but I like the idea. The "Bordeaux Garden" sounds so much grander than simply the "Corner Garden". Maybe I'll borrow names from some antique roses featured in my beds. "The Autumn Damask Garden" beats the "Driveway Bed";) Thanks for the idea and thanks for the lovely photos. I've really enjoyed the 'tour'.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Wow, I think these are all new areas of your garden I haven't seen. Really nice. Do you think that hosta has enough room? :) I am notorious for underestimating how much room a plant will need.

Robin at Bumblebee

Anonymous said...

Your 'Bordeaux' garden looks quite lovely - and hopefully there is a case or two of the good stuff hidden away to enjoy there...

Carol Michel said...

Kim, I can't believe you let some pink flowers in your garden! But it does look great, and your hard work is paying off. Looking forward to seeing more...

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Teresa said...

Hey, I think that is the same allium I bought this spring. Does it get taller? I was surprised to see the pom pom before any really height.

Unknown said...

Thank you, threecollie! I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment, too. Hope to check out a little more of your blog this week, too.

Diane @ albertapostcards, I hope so! Thanks! :)

meresy_g, you definitely need to get you some physocarpus. Easy, pretty... lots of different cultivars (even some golds) from which to choose. And if you're ever in Cleveland, you have an open invitation to come over and hang out back there!

lisa, don't you think the gargoyles would do it?! lol. NO on the mini's... I am already out of room, even for a mini. Don't you see all of that red orach coming up around the S&S?!!!

Annie, that's actually the garage of the people whose backyard is caddycorner from mine. (Convoluted explanation, I know.) I have never met them and rarely hear them, but I am definitely looking forward to not having to "see" their garage anymore, either. :)

I LOVE the idea of the Barbie makeup head! Or a mannequin head of some other sort... maybe all punked up with some paint and such? Or maybe turned into a ruin? Hmm...

Roses and Lilacs, it really does sound a bit grand, doesn't it?! lol. It's not so much me putting on airs, though, it's more because I have several different "backyard beds" so I had to name each one for photo filing purposes. So I kind of picked the standout feature of each... this one had been "The Grape Arbor Area," but it's much more fun to say "The Bordeaux Garden!" :)

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, by the way. I can't wait to check out your blog as well!

Bumblebee Robin, NO... I don't think that the hosta has enough room! lol. But I figure that I know enough people who want a chunk of this baby, and after they have all been satisfied I'll just let it take over the patio path. I can work around it to pick grapes. And, heck, at the rate we're going the dog will probably decide this is her new favorite spot and keep it in check by laying on it! :)

Pam, thank you... christening it with a glass or two of the good stuff, at least, would be a really good idea. I think I'll do just that when the arbor is finally up in its entirety.

Carol, I know. I'm not quite sure what came over me... these darn pink flowers, they seem to sneak up on you! Thanks for the compliments. :)

Teresa, this is my first year for them, but I think that they are a ground-hugger. There are taller alliums that flower in white, though... I think that one is called 'Everest' and they're the white globes.

Post a Comment

One of my favorite things about blogging is the interaction--posts are often simply the beginning of an interesting conversation! So thanks for taking the time to join the discussion, and please know that I enjoy reading each and every comment left here. I try to answer as many as I can.