In my previous post, I got a little carried away with showing off the garden in Saturday's rare sunshine. But eventually, I did take advantage of the cool, sunny day and even got some hard labor accomplished... so I'll continue my chronicle of Saturday's work here in part 2.
Project #1: A Floor for the Grape Arbor
I tend to work with materials on hand whenever I can, both to save on money and to cut down on waste. So when I first concocted my scheme of creating a little floor/patio of sorts beneath the grape arbor, I figured that I would break up the concrete next to the veggie garden bed at the same time. That way, I could simply reuse the concrete chunks beneath the grape arbor.
Luckily, before that could happen, I remembered the pretty cut stones that make up part of the pathway to the compost bins behind the garage. Most of the newer sidewalks in my suburb are poured cement, but the older ones are cut stone. So my guess is that these were remnants from a sidewalk refurbishing project.
The stones were mossy and slippery in their shady spot, and what's worse is that they were completely hidden from view. So I pulled the largest ones out and eventually arranged them in an asymmetrical pattern that I like, with pockets inside and around the edges for specific plants. Since it will be rarely used (just to check and harvest grapes, and weed around the plants) and I want a rustic/old look, I didn't bother setting the stone in anything other than the native dirt.
Once the rest of the posts are up, the floor is finished, the groundcovers are introduced, the ferns and epimedium are replanted, and the fence is stained... this will look like a whole different area, worthy of the pretty stones. And the cement that was to have been used here will just be crushed into smaller pieces and mixed in with the rest of the driveway gravel behind the garage to replace these stones. A win-win, as far as I'm concerned!
Project #2: Making a Path To/Through the Blue Locks
I could swear that I've shown these blue industrial shelves before, but I can't find the post... so the quick explanation is that they are trashpicking finds that I am using as a fun, recycled pathway material in the backyard.
**Edited to add: Thanks to Annie in Austin for finding my old post for me! If you're so inclined, you can read about the origins of this project in a post from last November, here.**
The first step was to clear and level the ground, and then I was able to lay out the pathway. The shelves are sturdy metal, but the blue enamel paint is chipping off in a couple of places, so I brought them inside this past winter and probably will continue to do so in the future.
I'll be building a simple 1-by cedar frame that each shelf will slip over when it gets placed in the garden. Inside the frame will be either paver base or decorative pebbles.--I'm not sure which, but am leaning toward the former. The frames will help me remember where each shelf will go, and they will also help keep the filler contained.
I can't do much more with the shelves right now until the frames are built, but at least I can start planting around them. Various culinary thymes, a few more salvias, and lots of veggies--red cabbage, carrots, beets, etc.--are going to be placed around here. And in those two, um, "circular metal planters" I am going to plant a couple of my treasured, rarer varieties of sedum. (Can anyone ID what those circles used to be? 1000 Cool Points for the first correct guess!)
Project #3: Lining the Locks with Stone
The first two blue shelves in the pathway I just laid span two of the three "dry locks" that Brian and I dug out last fall. At the bottom of the smaller picture below, you can see the shelf spanning the middle lock. The deepest lock is about knee-deep, the shallowest is about ankle-deep, and the middle one bridges the two. They are all connected by thin "channels," hence me thinking of them as "locks" instead of "ponds."
This is my take on the whole dry streambed xeriscape design, and is also reflective of my love of the water in general. So the locks are all planted with various blue- and purple-leaf plants.
Deep Lock has the darkest plants, including the deep-hued 'Metallica Crispa' ajuga. Middle Lock has silene maritima in its shallower end and sedum sieboldii in the deep part. Shallow Lock graduates from 'Blue Spruce' sedum in the "channel," to sedum pachyclados, to the tiny (and adorable) blue sedum hispanicum near the "shore."
Last year, I started using retaining wall block to line/mark the smallest of the locks, but it became quickly apparent that manufactured block was not going to cut it, aesthetically. I am lucky to have a source for free rocks (work lets me take them from the property around my office, as long as I haul them away on my own time) and so I have been working to line all three of the locks with pretty rocks to help stabilize their walls.
Here you see some of the rocks that I appropriated from work last week--the cool black rock in the middle was tapped for a slightly higher profile spot--and once I get them all laid out in a good arrangement, I'll work at digging parts of them into the ground and filling in around them with dirt to make them look more natural in their settings.
So a lot of work was started during this beautiful May Saturday... but I'll admit that none of it was actually finished just yet. There's still a lot to do, so hopefully we have a few more beautifully cool and sunny days in which to work.
When those days do come, my Gardening Assistant will have a lot more supervising to do. She'd better be ready to get her fuzzy butt in gear... and, preferably, off of my sedum! :)