Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Disaster in My Father's Garden

Ugly edges of pre-formed pond
This little garden is a memorial garden for my dad.  Every plant growing here was deliberately chosen based on my father's life and his relationship with his family.

Our local sanitation department offers free mulch and free compost.  You just can't beat that.  We show up with the truck and fill it to the brim with either or both.  We're very grateful for this, because being first-year residents, we have zero compost ready to use and we like saving tons of dollars on the mulch.

The garden last summer... BEFORE mulch
Last summer, we picked up a truckload of mulch and dumped it in this garden, right smack where that maple tree is growing.

When it was time to plant the tree, I asked Frank to MOVE the mulch so that he could dig the hole.

Frank did not MOVE the mulch.  Frank SPREAD the mulch.

I now have at least six inches of mulch all over this garden and pulling it back to plant is a pain.

Frank did not spread that mulch evenly, so it's also all hilly and lopsided and lumpy.
The garden today... buried in mulch

This is a major drag.  I really want this garden to look respectable by Father's Day.  (May 24 was my original deadline but I don't see that I can do this in three weeks.)

The other problem here is the POND.  It looks like crap.  It's a pre-formed pond and it didn't get buried deeply enough, it isn't level, and I hate seeing the plastic edge.

We talked about removing the pond, the plants, digging again, and laying a liner for a more natural effect.

Crimson King Maple Tree at right
But then we didn't have enough liner left over and we were going to have to buy more.

I'm sort of inclined to let the heucheras grow and spill over the edge of the pond, plant other things that will do the same, use a few rocks, and see if we can't cover the edges of the nasty tub that way.  Water lilies and other aquatics will cover most of the plastic on the inside, I think.

Right now, I just try to cope and tackle this step by step.

In the meantime, Frank has been banned from mulch duty.


  1. What a great vignette, Wendy! Love the water feature too. I would love to see it on a more grand scale. You know me, go big or go home, money no object! Something 10x10, with a moderate rock water fall feature, surrounded by rocks, with tall grasses behind and your Father's plantings in front... Whatever you decide is going to look great!!

  2. Hey Audrey,

    I hear ya. We did the massive freaking 3,500 gallon koi pond in the front. This little thing was just supposed to be for my froggies and my dragonflies. The shadiest part of this garden is brimming with hostas, astilbes, bleeding hearts.... it will be very full and very lush, I think. My head is sort of stuck on the mulch and you now how I can be... OCD = Stuck and Can't Get Past It.

  3. You'll appreciate the mulch depth when you see how much it compresses, but the hills and divets have to go - water catchers & ankle busters! OCD to the rescue!!

  4. I don't think it looks bad at all. I thought you were going to say you got bad mulch then that would indeed be a disaster. The cool thing about your mulch is that it will decompose and add to the soil-though this takes time. That is what I think your garden needs. Of course it won't help you prior to Father's Day this year but by next year it will be super nice. Maybe you could add some stones or concrete chunks around the pond edges to hide the edges and give it a finished look? I love stones but they can be pricey so free concrete is all about in my gardens.

    On the J. maple give it a few more weeks or even a month or do the scrape test. Just cut out the dead parts and reshape and it will recover. These things happen to J. maples and other small and newly planted shrubs and trees. Nothing to worry about it will recover. Usually this will happen if a tree is in place less than a year or so. After the first two years the tree is adapted and able to stand up better to the elements.



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