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The Lane


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 two-year-old way.

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 stones...

... 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

Acaena myriophylla (cadillo)
Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)
Achillea filipendulina 'Cloth of Gold' (fern-leaf yarrow)
Agastache rupestris (sunset hyssop)
Allium cristophii (star of Persia)
Allium sphaerocephalon (drumstick allium)
Allium tuberosum (garlic chives)
Amsonia illustris (Ozark blue star; shining blue star)
Anemone baldensis (Mt. Baldo windrose)
Aquilegia kareliniana (Afghan columbine)
Arabis alpina 'Snowcap' (mountain rockcress)
Arabis blepharophylla 'Spring Charm' (rose rock cress)
Arabis ferdinandi-coburgi (alpine wall cress)
Asphodeline liburnica
Aubrieta deltoidea (purple rock cress)
Baptisia 'Twilite Prairieblues' (false indigo)
Baptisia australis (false indigo)
Baptisia lanceolata (gopherweed; lance-leaf false indigo)
Barnardia japonica (squill)
Calendula officinalis (pot marigold)
Callirhoe alcaeoides (white-flowered poppy mallow)
Campanula 'Sarastro' (bellflower)
Campanula alliariifolia (ivory bellflower)
Centranthus ruber (Jupiter's beard)
Ceratotheca triloba (African foxglove)
Clematis integrifolia
Clematis ladakhiana
Colchicum autumnale 'Alboplenum' (autumn crocus)
Coreopsis auriculata 'Zamphir' (ear-leaved tickseed)
Cornus amomum (silky dogwood)
Cornus mas (cornelian cherry)
Corydalis lutea (yellow corydalis)
Crocus vernus (and hybrids) (spring crocus)
Daphne retusa
Dianthus deltoides (maiden pink)
Dianthus pinifolius
Dianthus spiculifolius
Digitalis lutea (straw foxglove)
Echinacea paradoxa (yellow coneflower)
Euonymus fortunei (winter creeper)
Fibigia clypeata (Roman shields)
Fritillaria meleagris (guinea-hen fritillary; checkered lily)
Genista tinctoria (dyer's broom)
Geranium psilostemon (cranesbill)
Geranium sanguineum (cranesbill)
Geranium wallichianum 'Buxtons Variety' (cranesbill)
Hemerocallis 'Pocket Change' (daylily)
Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' (daylily)
Hibiscus 'Purpureus variegatus' (variegated rose of sharon)
Hibiscus syriacus (rose of sharon)
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Cityline Paris' (bigleaf hydrangea)
Hydrangea quercifolia (oak-leaf hydrangea)
Hymenoxys hoopesii (orange sneezeweed)
Hypericum androsaemum 'Albury Purple' (purple St John's wort)
Hypericum calycinum (creeping St. John's wort)
Hypericum sp. (shrubby St. John's wort)
Iberis sempervirens (candytuft)
Iris (intermediate bearded hybrids) (intermediate bearded iris)
Iris domestica (blackberry lily)
Iris reticulata (reticulata iris)
Iris xiphium (Dutch iris)
Juniperus sp. (juniper)
Liatris ligulistylis (meadow blazing star)
Lilium formosanum (formosa lily)
Lunaria annua (honesty; moneyplant)
Narcissus 'Obdam' (daffodil)
Nepeta grandiflora 'Dawn to Dusk' (catmint)
Pennisetum glaucum (ornamental millet)
Penstemon caryi
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage)
Phlox paniculata (garden phlox)
Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant)
Pinus heldreichii (Bosnian pine)
Poncirus trifoliata (trifoliate orange)
Potentilla megalantha (strawberry cinquefoil)
Potentilla thurberi (scarlet cinquefoil)
Pulsatilla vulgaris (pasque flower)
Ranunculus repens 'Buttered Popcorn' (creeping buttercup)
Rosa x rehderiana (polyantha rose)
Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' (black-eyed susan)
Rudbeckia laciniata (cutleaf coneflower; tall coneflower)
Rudbeckia laciniata 'Goldquelle' (golden glow coneflower)
Rudbeckia triloba (brown-eyed susan)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Salvia nemorosa (meadow sage)
Salvia subrotunda (hummingbird sage)
Salvia verticillata subsp. verticillata (hardy ornamental sage)
Sambucus racemosa 'Sutherland Gold' (European elder)
Scutellaria incana (downy skullcap)
Scutellaria orientalis ssp. oreophila (skullcap)
Scutellaria sevanensis
Sedum 'Purple Emperor' (stonecrop)
Solanum aethiopicum (scarlet eggplant)
Taxus cuspidata 'Capitata' (pyramidal yew; clipped yew)
Teucrium chamaedrys (prostrate and upright germander)
Thalictrum chelidonii (meadow rue)
Tinantia erecta (widow's tears)
Tulipa humilis 'Violacea black base' (tulip)
Tulipa hybrids (tulip)
Valeriana officinalis (common valerian; garden heliotrope)
Veronica peduncularis 'Georgia Blue' (speedwell)
Veronica spicata 'Red Fox' (pink spike speedwell)
Viburnum dentatum 'Blue Muffin' (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum x pragense (Prague viburnum)
Vinca major 'Variegata' (variegated periwinkle)

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Last modified: October 02, 2011
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