When we moved to this 1895 townhouse in 1998, the back 1000 was basically 8 cleveland pears, 4 to a side, a nice back deck, and dirt (& rocks, glass, yetch, etc.). I remember Steve’s brother driving his camper through the back gate and parking under the trees. But the house was such a deal (under 100K) that we couldn’t worry about the state of the garden. Since that time, first Stephen, and then I, have been putting that dirt to work big time. But always we have been struggling with making a shade garden … until three years ago, we just had one of the trees removed! That created about a 100 sq. ft. patch of ground next to the back walk where there are at least 4 hours of direct sun every day. Two years ago, we planted an ever-blooming rose, some menarda, iris and day lilies. Last year, we planted a white cone flower and a black-eyed susan. There is also a clematis on the south fence. These were all perennials, so they all came back. And then a few days ago, I put in a few herbs, such as a dill plant, chives and a Mexican sage.
For the last two (cool and cloudy) days, I have been doing a final shaping up of things in our sun garden. My dear old great grandmother, Eva Noe, always had both smaller and dinner plate dahlias, so in honor of her, I selected a couple of deep magenta dinner plates, and some pink and yellow smaller dahlias for cut flowers. But first I had to prepare the soil. I read that dahlias like a very acid soil, and that peat moss can be mixed in to the existing soil for this purpose. I dug my cultivator out of the basement, and worked several shovelfuls of peat moss into the patch along the west fence. Then I raked and smoothed the soil and planted the five dahlias about 5″ below the soil line, marking them carefully with stakes. Especially the dinner plate dahlias will need to be staked as they grow.
One other final touch to the sun garden was to add a couple of vines on the west fence. Last year, we had a moonflower vine there, and the results were spectacular. This year I planted a purple morning glory and a black-eyed suzan vine (thunbergia). I even bought a neat trellis for the morning glory. We had one already.
Oh, and one other feature about this sunny spot. Years ago, a friend of ours, Cheri Asa, donated some gray flagstones to us that she had left over. Stephen painstakingly constructed three walks out of them, including one to the basement and one to the back fence. They look great, but they need to be cleaned and dug out almost every season. So today I was able to get the walk in shape, as you can see from the picture. We have some nice paniculata hydrangeas that bloom in the late summer.
The mulch is almost in place, and now I just have to make sure to water enough. The sun garden should display its many colors and varieties of plants and flowers really until November.