Archives For -Stacey’s Garden

Stacey is still hard at work on her garden. This fall she has planted a bunch of new shrubs for the large back planting bed and we are still discussing which grasses she should plant in the spring to help create some volume for her garden. She has spent a lot of this gardening season working on preparing the planting bed and starting to get some plants in the ground so next year will be a big year for starting to fill out the beds. Which leads to one of the hard parts about starting a new garden, being patient while waiting for the plants to grow and fill in! For a little inspiration I put this rendering together to show her how the planting bed will look once the plants have filled in and we add some grasses and a new tree. I think it will be quite lovely!

Garden Rendering, addition of new shrubs, grasses & a tree

Stacey's Garden from Last Week

The good news is that after all of her hard work the planting bed is ship shape and ready for more plants in the coming year. We also now have started to develop a plant list to work from. I think by next year at this time the garden will really be coming into its own.

View from the Driveway. Isn't the planting bed shape nice?

Here are a few of the pretty details from the garden. I am loving the use of red/purple plants, especially the blueberries (plus they are good to eat!) and the purple smoke bush.

New Arbor!

Stunning Blueberry Bush

Crabapple Tree

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Siteplan from back in April

Stacey has been hard at work on her garden this spring and summer. The planting bed has been laid out, cut, amended and mostly mulched. And she has been carefully adding plants to the beds as well as putting up an arbor. I went to go see it this past weekend and unfortunately forgot to take my camera! Unfortunately it is raining today, but I will go take some photos very soon.  But, we did discuss some options for the main planting bed. Currently she has a number of perennials, but there is a LOT of space to fill and it is still feeling somewhat empty (although this is where you need to be patient as the new plants start to grow).

Stacey's Yard Back in April

I think that some grasses are an excellent choice to fill in the back and middle part of the bed (we are concentrating on the area in the red dashed shape above). These will add height quickly but not be a barrier, as a large evergreen would. I think it would be nice to pair them with some medium size shrubs though to mix up the texture. I picked out a few that I thought would be a nice addition. These won’t get planted until the spring but I think it will be helpful to have a game plan now. I also think we will go with smaller plugs, since most grasses will do well this way and it really keeps the cost down. We are looking for 3-5 varieties (1-2 tall and 2-3 medium) in varying heights and colors. I am also looking for ones that don’t mind clay soil and are somewhat flexible about sunlight. Does anyone have any recommendations?  Photos are from Bluestem Nursery unless noted. Here are my picks so far:



Malepartus Maiden Grass, Flowers are 60"-80" Tall

Feather Reed Grass 'Karl Forrester', Flowers are 60"-80" tall


Korean Feather Grass, 32"-48" tall. Full sun to part shade.

Tall Moor Grass, 32"-40" tall. Sun to part-sun. I like the wispy plumes. These could be planted further forward since the actual grass is smaller.

Decotah Switch Grass, 36"-48" tall. It has a nice green and yellow color mix. Flowers are up to 54" tall.

Pink Muhly Grass, photo taken by my friend Kelly at a local park, 36-42" tall

Tufted Hair Grass, 24-32" tall. Soft plumes. Native but does self-seed.


Rheingold Globe Arborvitae: This could provide a nice contrast to the grasses. Tends to form 3'-5' globe shape. It is soft to the touch and a nice golden color. It is currently on clearance at Home Depot. Photo from Evins Mill Nursery

Evins Mill Nursery


Stacey's Garden from last week. Look at how far she has come!

Marked out Garden from last month.

Original Site Plan from March with adjusted shape in red.


Stacey has been hard at work removing sod, loosening the soil and picking out plants. She is going to start planting today!  There are 1700 sf of garden to fill! Go Stacey Go! For a more detailed description click here. I also have started a pinterest board of the current plant selection. The kids and I are going to try and ‘help’ this morning. We will see how that goes!



Sorry I didn’t post on Friday but Saturday was the Plant Exchange at Scott Arboretum (on the Swarthmore College campus) and I was trying to frantically divide some hosta (and spend some time with the kids). If you live in Delaware County and like to garden it is worth joining Scott Arboretum for the Plant Exchange alone (they also offer some great gardening classes and lectures)! There are a bunch of detailed rules but the general idea is that you bring your extra plants to share. For every 3 you bring you get a ticket. With those tickets you can buy plants. Then all of the other plants are $1 (excluding some larger trees and shrubs). There is lots of lining up and rushing around, but I find it very exciting! Plus I get to see many of my gardening friends and neighbors. If you want to see an old woman fight you for a plant, this is the place. ; )  It is not good for those who wish to ponder about plants (although there are experts there for helping to describe different plants). For those with new gardens to fill it is especially excellent!

This is the first year that I wasn’t trying to fill a new planting bed, so I ended up with less than I have previously brought home (29 plants for me, 3 for my mom). But I was also there to help Stacey find plants to fill her new (1700 sf) planting bed. I think she ended up with about 70 plants, including some large shrubs.

Some plant highlights:

For Me: Ostrich Ferns (there were lots and I snagged 5 for the side yard), Shasta Daisies (a childhood favorite of mine), Aster (a shorter purple variety), Magenta Cranesbill Geraniums (to go with some that I got last year), Jacobs Ladder, Jack-in-the-Pulpit & Japanese Irises

For Stacey: Shrubs including Bayberry, Sweetspire Itea, Plum, hydrangeas and several evergreens. Perennials including Cardinal Flower, Shasta Daisies, Asters, Variegated Crane’s Bill Geraniums, Japanese Irises, Variegated Honeysuckle, and Redux.


Although Stacey’s plant list is still in progress I thought I would share a few of the selections and some pretty pictures.


Shasta Daisy


Japanese Iris



Autumn Joy Sedum



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Updated Plan. The red line shows the modified location of the Phase 1 bed.

The red line and green show the proposed bed. The orange line shows the original location from my plan.

We are still working on the final plant list. In the meantime, Stacey is working on clearing the ground. She has a hand sod remover tool and has been slowly taking the grass away.  She is considering getting the big guns out and renting a big sod remover.  Gotta love big power tools! The grass will soon be replaced new beds of wet newspaper, good soil, possibly more newspaper and finally mulch in preparation for the new plants.

I headed over to finalize the shape of the circle for the back bed (Phase 1). The original plan shows a 20′ diameter half circle. Stacey had done some preliminary markings with a 15′ diameter. In the end, we went with an 18′ diameter centered on the future patio. In addition to aligning with the patio, this will allow her to leave an existing post and use it for a bird house.  This does leave the area closest to the driveway a little in flux (maybe a gravel edge) as the planting be might be too wide in this area.

One thing I have found with landscaping as opposed to other forms of home improvement is that you often have to tweak the layout a little bit on site until it feel just right.


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Terrain at Styer's

Lots of Evergreens!

Today I thought I would share some of the interesting and pretty plants that we saw while at on Terrain visit on Saturday.  We were looking mostly for shrub options for Stacey’s garden (both medium and smaller size) to mix with a couple that she has already selected. So far the shrubs that are on the list include:

Already Selected:

Purple Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria) Info: Zones 5-9, Full Sun to Part Shade, 8'-10' tall. Known for its purple leaves and giant "smoky" flowers.

Red Twig Dogwood (cornus alba) Info: Zones 3-8, Full Sun to Part Shade, 8'-10' tall. Known for it red branches in winter and its varigated leaf.
















Some New Considerations:

Larger Shrubs/Bushes:

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) Varieties vary from 5'-10' tall, evergreen leaves. White flowers in late spring.

Cryptomeria Japonica variety elegans viridis. Grows 10'-20' tall and wide. Beautiful soft feathery green foliage.














Magnolia Grandiflora variety 'Little Gem', Beautiful glossy evergreen foliage with soft brown underside. 15'-20' tall. Large white flowers in summer.

Burkwood Spice Viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii), 6'-8' tall. In spring pink tipped buds open to fragrant white flowers. 6'-8' tall w/ semi-evergreen foliage.


















Smaller Shrubs/Bushes:

Arborvitae variety Mr. Bowling Ball (Thuja occidentalis bobozam). Forms a perfect dense ball without pruning. 3'x3'. Full to Part Sun.

Pieris Japonica variety 'Little Heath". Variegated evergreen foliage. 2'-3' tall and wide. Part Sun to Part Shade.
















Stay tuned for a few interesting perennials that we spotted!

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Backyard: From rear of property

Backyard: From the back entry

Backyard: From the sunroom

Stacey lives in the most charming house! It is a Tudor style cottage built in the 1930s. She has lived there for several years now and has been busy working on the house. She has also started to work on the yard, but she was lacking a cohesive plan. So we met and did a detailed analysis of her yard. We also looked at a number of garden books to help define the general style she was after.


-Create a county style garden with a more formal lawn in the center of the yard, while minimizing the lawn elsewhere.

-Create several garden “rooms” to help define the yard.

-Minimize the view of the neighbors.

-Maintain the existing trees where possible.

-Maintain the sunny vegetable garden.

-Provide a location for the apple trees, a water feature and a swing.

-Locate future patio/deck and steps from the sunroom.

The Design:

The Garden Plan!

The Design Elements:

Element #1:

Create a large curved planting bed that will divide the main lawn from the veggie garden.  This will incorporate a number of existing trees and shrubs. This will have 2 zones. The front zone will be for smaller perennials, shrubs and annuals. The taller zone behind will be for taller shrubs, perennials and grasses.

Element #2:

Locate a Patio at the rear of the house.

Element #3:

Locate a new tree opposite the existing crabapple tree to help balance the yard and create some symmetry. This will also minimize the view of her garage from the house.

Element # 4:

Locate the apple trees at the rear of the property. These will also provide a visual buffer to the ugly garage on the adjacent property.

Elements #5,6,7 & 8:

Locate the major architectural elements throughout the yard to provide multiple points of interest. This includes a water feature, bird bath, swing, and arbor.

I will be describing these elements in more detail posts so stay tuned!