Landscaping A Medium-Size Garden

Delphinium flowering in Spring

Several years ago, having acquired an old-fashioned suburban house with a good-sized lot, two “green-thumbed” city dwellers enthusiastically planned their first garden.

Years earlier before moving from the city to the “country”, they dreamed of the lovely garden they hoped to have some day. When they began, they planted tulip bulbs upside down!

Today, their garden in Pennsylvania, blooms from earliest spring until the late chrysanthemums herald the end of the garden season.

The property when they bought it consisted of tall, straggly evergreens massed around the foundation of the house, shutting out much light and air. The lawn was dotted with bushes and small evergreens of various kinds. These were all quickly pulled out and any plant material which was good enough to save was transferred to boundary plantings as a start toward much-needed seclusion.

As soon as this outdoor house cleaning was completed, the place took on a new look. Removing the evergreens did leave the porch in full view of the road, but this was soon remedied by groupings of azaleas, rhododendrons and laurel. A specimen dogwood now softens the corner of the house on the driveway side and adds privacy.

Additional shrub plantings were made only along the boundary, so as to leave an unbroken lawn area which, although limited, gives a feeling of more space.

Pachysandra is used in abundance. It carpets the ground in front of the foundation planting and between the shrubs and phlox along the boundary as well as brightening shady places where it is difficult to grow grass.

It not only cuts down the labor of weeding and mowing but adds a welcome touch of green during the winter months. Each year in early July these city transplants take innumerable cuttings 2 or 3 inches off the tips of the plants.

Then they plunge these slips in a bucket of water until they are ready to plant them. If the soil is kept well watered until the slips root, they will soon take hold and begin to spread. In this way they can either add to their plantings or use the cuttings to fill any gaps in established clumps.

Secluded Area

As is the case with many such houses of an early vintage, the, addition of a terrace was not possible.

However, with the lawn cleared of the shrubbery which had peppered it, an open space just off the kitchen steps provided an ideal secluded outdoor living and dining area. The balance of the back lot (approximately 40 x 70 feet) was divided into two sections. One section is the flower garden, which adjoins the outdoor living area, and the other is the service yard, which is next to the garage.

Now, let us visit the garden. It is enclosed on two sides with a 3-foot white picket fence, which keeps the neighborhood dogs out and offers a good support for climbing roses. This open type of garden enclosure allows a colorful vista of the flower beds from the outdoor living area.

At the back and on one side of the garden a high, sloping bank has been developed into an unusual background. Atop the bank is a well-trimmed, symmetrical hedge of arborvitae; the slope itself has been planted informally.

Large rocks for landscaping were imbedded in the soil and softened with clumps of candytuft, Phlox subulata, yellow alyssum, cerastium and arabis. Irregular groupings of ferns and plantings of yew, ilex, barberry (Julianae) and low-growing junipers add substance and character.

In the flower garden below, the beds and borders are full of bloom throughout the season. Crocus, narcissus, tulips, pansies, forget-me-nots and bleeding-heart are followed by iris (both bearded and Japanese), Oriental poppies, columbine, sweet-william, pinks, baptisia, daylilies, peonies, delphinium, phlox and lilies (L. candidum and L. regale.) As the season advances, annuals in abundance and finally chrysanthemums carry on the generous burst of bloom until frost.

In one corner, close to the base of the bank, a garden feature has been developed around a birdbath. A rambler rose growing on an iron-pipe support has been trained to form a canopy over the birdbath.

Immediately behind it are clumps of fern. A colorful bed completes the planting around it: pansies, forget-me-nots and primroses are followed by begonias and impatiens flowers.

The other section of the back lot includes a cutting garden, tomato patch and coldframes for raising plants from seed. At the rear of the garage is a small greenhouse. This was done inexpensively by using cast-off glass from an enclosed porch for the side and front of the greenhouse.

A glass roof and potting benches were added. There is no heat in the greenhouse, but the warmth of the ‘March sun is adequate for starting early seedlings for the garden. The greenhouse is also useful for wintering chrysanthemums and for potting house plants.

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