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The New Pollinator Bed

June 12th, 2020

Three years ago I started developing a garden on a slope by the driveway that was difficult to mow. The soil is very sandy and dry, with no organic matter to speak of. It was also infested with quack grass. I laid down cardboard and covered it with mulch, then I let it sit over winter.

This garden bed is filled with things just for the pollinators, I’ve working hard to plan for blooms throughout the season.

Currently, there are sages, spiderwort, persicaria, spurge, cushion plants, scabiosa, iris, veronica, and geranium,

I recently added a few shrubs as well, ‘Miss Kim’ lilac, a ‘Coppertina’ ninebark, and a ‘Quick Fire’ panicle hydrangea that came with us from Ohio and has been living in the potager. I also added a Kousa Dogwood that I scored at the home improvement store last fall for $7. It overwintered in the basement and was planted in this bed in the spring.

A friend made me this lovely sculpture from old tools, it was a birthday gift last summer. I’ve been looking for just the right spot for it in the garden. After finding two large black rocks that were nicely square, it is gracing the pollinator bed.

There’ still more to add to this bed, I have plants in the nursery area that need moved. I also have plans to add a few more clematis to grow up the shrubs and fill in with even more blooms. Stay tuned for photos of this new garden as the year progresses. If you have any great pollinator plants to recommend let me know in the comments.

What’s your favorite pollinator plant?

It’s Coming Together

April 25th, 2016

If you remember, I posted about moving my boxwood hedge to its final resting place. It’s creating a garden room of sorts, setting apart a section of the garden for something special. Whenever I create a new garden area, I always plant it with annuals the first year, sometimes cover crops and sometimes vegetables. The following year I plant perennials. The main reason I do this is the get ahead of the weeds. I find in doing this I have much less weeding during the second summer, which means I don’t have to worry about disturbing perennials or having invasive weed roots get into my perennials.
boxwood hedge 3
Yesterday, I dug up my ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint that I brought from Ohio. I brought one plant, which I divided two years ago. I divided them again yesterday and ended up with about 20 plants. It’s not quite enough, this summer I’ll take starts and get the rest of them. See my post on starting catmint from cuttings here.
walkers_low_catmint 1 (1)
The plan is to have the entire garden area filled with catmint (a low growing variety) and giant globe alliums. In the fall, I’ll cut back the catmint and plant decorative kale for winter interest. It’s a fairly large garden area, I’m guessing it’s about 300 square feet. I think the mass planting focusing on one color will create a stunning display. More photos to come throughout the summer as things fill in and grow.

Do you have any garden changes in the works this summer?

The Triangle Garden

April 23rd, 2013

If you remember, last week I introduced you to Dailon and mentioned that he was already working on something.  I also mentioned that the rock wall I was building was going to enclose a new garden space.
Triangle Garden 1
Triangle Garden 3
Triangle Garden 4
The new garden will be a triangular shaped garden right across the driveway from my kitchen window, which is why I wanted to put a garden space in this spot. It’s a nice space, with good soil and an old outhouse (that is currently being turned into a small chicken coop).
Working in the Triangle Garden 1
We started by clearing out a pine tree. It was planted in the middle of the space and was leaning.
Triangle Garden 7
Working in the Triangle Garden 3
There was also a raised bed made of railroad ties, that also went away. Mr Chiots was more than happy to get his tractor out for this chore.
Working in the Triangle Garden 5
The plan is to put some chickens in there to clean out all the weeds. Then I’ll figure out what sort of design I want to use. I’ll continue building the walls to surround it, and hopefully one day it will be a beautiful space that I can admire from my kitchen window.

Do you have any exciting garden projects for the summer?


April 14th, 2011

“Wow, those are some big trees” Dan from Steiner Painting said when he showed up yesterday morning. “That’s what I said on the phone” Mr Chiots replied. I suppose he’s used to most people describing a 30 ft tree as a “big” tree. We’re surrounded by old growth trees, most of them well over 100 years old I’m sure. It’s too bad some of them had to come down for the safety of our little cottage.

On one hand it’s sad to see them go, but the ones we had cut down were in rough shape, not healthy trees by any stretch of the imagination. The people that built this house scraped away the soil around the trees to make a flat driveway and they haven’t been doing well the entire time we’ve lived here. We’ve been wanting to have them taken out, we’ve just been waiting to save up the money to do so.

The giant multi-stem maple growing beside our house collects water in the middle of it’s three trunks and made us nervous during every wind storm. It’ll be nice to sleep through a stormy night without wondering if we’ll wake up to the sound of a giant tree coming through the roof.

After four hours of cutting we have four fewer trees at Chiot’s Run, which is a small percentage of the big ones. We still have a nice grove of 20-25 maples in the back for tapping and a few very large cherry trees as well.

The giant 100 ft tulip still stands as they need a taller bucket truck to take it down. We also have 3 more large oak trees that might come down some day. Of course I can’t be too sad about losing a few trees, they’ll be replaced with apples, pears, peaches, nectarine, pear, crabapple and cherry trees. All that wood won’t go to waste either, we’re getting a wood burner so all of it will be used to keep the cottage here at Chiot’s Run warm and toasty during the winter.

We now have a lot of work ahead of us as all the limbs need cleaned up and chipped for mulch. The big logs will be cut up and stacked in the back for firewood. We’re hoping to use some of the smaller logs for stairs in a few different spots around the gardens. I also really want to make this bench with some of the branches, I’ve saved out a few from the maple that was right beside the house. I found this bench in the book Garden Ornaments : A Stylish Guide to Decorating Your Garden.

I love big trees, it’s one of the things we really like about our house. We’re surrounded by woods on 3 sides (well, now 2.5 sides). We still have many many acres of old growth woods behind us that will remain that way since it’s owned by the home owners association we belong to and it’s not allowed to be built on. I can’t wait to see how our little orchard comes together to fill in the spots left by these old trees.

Do you have any big trees on your property? Have you ever had to take down trees?

Playing in the Dirt

March 29th, 2009

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up
until your back gets used to it.

~Author Unknown

This past week I’ve been putting in a new flowerbed in the front yard. I’m liberating about 100 square feet of lawn along with part of the woods on the side of the property. This bed is going to be about 8-10 feet wide by about 30 feet long. It’s going to be a beneficial border of native plants and flowers for the bees and humming birds. I’m also hoping to have a few spots to tuck in some herbs and veggies.
It sure is hard work digging up sapplings and tree roots along the edge of the woods. I don’t mind though, one of the things I like most about gardening is the manual labor. I like that I don’t have to worry about going to the gym to get my exercise, I get it in the front yard while doing something constructive. It feels good knowing that all of my hard work will have a beautiful reward later this summer.

Do you like the manual labor of gardening? Or do you prefer the easier tasks?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.