The Lane came into being in the autumn of 2003, after being planned in our
minds for a few years before that. This garden area
connects the front walkway to the side garden: one stone path with a few
steps down is flanked on both sides with raised garden beds. Since it's in
prime view from the street, I had orders from Amy to keep it on the tamer
side – an objective that was perhaps not fully attained...
First, the story of its creation. Ever since making the mistake of not
properly preparing the soil in the front perennial
border, we take garden construction seriously. Many neighbors asked me
afterward why I singlehandedly moved a big mountain of dirt from one end of
the area to the other. I mumbled something about double-digging and
mushroom soil – they wouldn't understand.
My boys helped me with this construction project – Max by riding
his bike across the aforementioned mountain and knocking the soil down (he
was only four, after all), and Ben by clambering about in his jolly
We started by planting a few shrubs and small trees, along with a few
bulbs and perennials. By late the next spring, the new lane was showing its
promise - it is still rather empty, but all the new plantings were coming
into their own, and were being joined by new friends regularly. But the view
into the neighbors' driveway was still wide open.
And this is what it looked like after a snowstorm the following winter.
By 2006, the plantings have become more established and exuberant. The photo
above shows late-spring-blooming perennials along the walk connecting with the side garden.
You can see how catmint has started to colonize the cracks between the walkway
... while looking the other direction, the view into the front yard is just
about obscured by all those shrubs and small trees that have put on a growth
spurt in the previous few years. From left to right, there's a rose of sharon,
a Viburnum x pragense, a katsura tree (now sadly departed, courtesy of a
long summer drought), a Washington hawthorn (which is actually behind the lane),
and a pussywillow. Also in there, but hidden in the mass, are a Blue Muffin viburnum
and a fothergilla. The combination of all those now do a good job of screening
the view into the neighbors' property, making a shielded corridor into the
garden areas beyond.
A few years further down the road, the lane is still evolving. The big
yew in some of the pictures above had to come out, since it was obscuring
too much of the window. The demise of the katsura tree is hardly noticeable,
since its neighbors have leaned in to fill the space. A few perennials have
taken on huge proportions, most notably a centrally planted Amsonia
illustris that explodes into a huge mass of slender-leaved stalks topped by
soft-blue flowers by mid-spring.
Meanwhile, a bevy of informal and self-sowing biennials and perennials,
including the brown-eyed Susans and Agastache rupestris in the photo above,
along with Salvia regalis, Geranium psilostemon, and Centranthus ruber, toss
about, creating a mess of color and wayward stalks, not always to Amy's
delight. So expect further edits in years to come.
A partial list of plantings in the Lane
October 02, 2011