I think I could use a bit of help

I’ve been working – off and on – on the gardens and landscaping since we arrived here. Mostly it’s been piecemeal, a bit here, a bit there. Largely it’s been destructive – plant removal. Not necessarily because they were ugly or sick, but because they didn’t fit overall with the feel of the place.

So here’s a nice little rendering (no laughing at my art skills people!) of the layout of the property – back when we were planning on adding a pergola and a workshop (amongst other things)
labled plot plan

As you can see it’s mostly wild and forested. We liked it that way. The horse yards and it’s accompanying swamp were separated from the house and drive, and the house is well hidden from nosy neighbours or truck drivers.

Essentially there are 4 main planting beds, and 2 minor ones.

front bed
One under the front window…

front side bed
One along the side of the garage.

bed by the forest
One at the front running along the forest edge.

driveway bed
There’s a small bed on the far side of the driveway

the day lily bedday lily bed out back
And the bed I made for the daylilies in the backyard under the kitchen windows

We never much liked the bushes and the peonies and the rhododendron that were planted along the driveway – the dogwood etc are perfectly nice bushes, but there’s no rhyme or reason to their placement and they look out of place.
driveway bushes

I always thought the front gates needed something to soften them up – a couple large lilacs on either side maybe.
front gates

It didn’t look bad when we moved in – it just didn’t look right. I didn’t love all the pea gravel, and I’m not fond of hostas, and the juniper bush was out of control.
front vistaview from front door

We never did plan on changing the layout much. We just wanted to make sense of the spaces that were there and tie them in with the natural forest that surrounds us. So we moved a couple awkwardly placed rose bushes, took out a young japanese maple that was badly planted. Then we cut down some trees at one end of the yard last year to enlargen the front lawn and brighten things up a little. We took out a small stand of scraggly pines along the forest edge, and one large maple that was killing all the light.

tree stump removaltree stump removal
Finally in November we rented a digger, and managed to pull all the stumps. This left a great gaping hole in that end of the yard and one more enormous planting bed.

While we had the digger here – I took advantage and dug up all the beds. With the sheer volume of rock in Newfoundland soil it was the only way to get any kind of a decent planting bed.
digging the bedsdigging the beds

As usual, we were dreadfully late getting going on all this and after it was dug up all that rock had to be sorted and cleared. James got 2/3 of the trench to drain the swamp dug and I got the worst of the rock out of the planting beds but it was slow nasty cold going and in the end no new bulbs got planted, and I was even too late in the year to get a load of topsoil in.

So as the snow starts to melt – I’ve got about 4 to 6 weeks to plan what to DO with these great empty beds once I get some fresh soil in them. (we have a great compost heap of lovely dirt but it’s at the bottom of a gully where the digger can’t go – I’ll have to buy a truckload)

Without any bulbs planted last fall there won’t be much early colour, but my Spring Garden catalogue arrived today. http://www.springgarden.ca It’s time to start ordering plants, but I’m overwhelmed by the choices and my own lack of any kind of experience in planning a garden.


The juniper is gone, I moved the 3 small peonies to the spot under the window but I don’t know if they’ll take. I got a couple nice gigantic landscaping boulders, a large blue hydrangea I moved to the corner by the garage from out back, a couple of the hostas left and a handful of columbines that seem to want to run rampant have been divided up amongst the beds.

I need ideas. Hell I need a PLAN – not too expensive (planting budget is no more than $500). I just need it to look neat and tidy and not empty and colourful and fit in to the forested lot – nothing too formal. I need a PLAN that will do well in shade and wet and rock and fits into zone 4 and just make the front yard look NICE again.

Surely someone out there has some gardening experience / ideas they could help a girl out?

… and I still think I’ll do a couple lilacs by the front gate.

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