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Getting it Right. . . Next Time!

In gardening there is a phrase that's used a lot.  Right plant, right place.  There are entire books dedicated to this concept.  Basically, the theory holds that if you plant the right plants for the conditions of your particular location/soil/climate, you'll have success -- beautiful blooms, less maintenance, the heavens will part and angels will sing.  I know this concept.  I have the book.  I explain it to newer gardeners.  But, Dangit!  Sometimes I get it wrong anyway.

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We used to live in another city here in Michigan -- in a neighborhood called "Georgetown Forest" . . . with (heavy) emphasis on the Forest.  I had a big yard; lots (and lots and lots) of trees; hostas; no sun.  Ever.  I dreamed of sunny cottage gardens every day.  So when we moved to our current house - six years ago -- and my new yard was half-sun/half-shade, the first thing I did was put in the Cottage Garden of My Dreams.

Big Mistake.  I have been fighting with that cottage garden for five seasons now.  Oh, it looks great for about 2 weeks every year in early June.  (Here it is in it's most promising phase this past June. . .)

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I get seduced again and again and again by The Potential of those 2 short weeks.  I throw more plants at the cottage garden every year about that time.  But then. . . reality sets in.  This is not the Right Place for a cottage garden!  It is too sunny.  It is very dry.  The west wind sends strong breezes.  Deer and rabbits feast.  FEAST!  In short, it is a disaster by the end of June.

I have now, officially, Given Up on having a cottage garden in that particular location.  I cleared out plants this weekend.  (For you knitters out there. . . I'm "frogging" this garden!)

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I'm moving some of the plants to other spots in my yard -- where the conditions are better for them.  I'm packing plants up and sharing them with gardening friends.

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Everything must go!

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I don't know what I'll end up with next gardening season.  I have some ideas. . .  but I'm not going to rush to plant right now.  This will be my winter project:  to figure out what the Right Plants are for this Right Place.  I need to find beautiful plants for this overly-sunny, incredibly-dry, West-windy location that is, currently, a 5-star restaurant for deer and rabbits!  It'll keep me busy while the snow falls.

And, just so you don't think that gardening is all work and no fun, here's a little video clip of Brian and Jenny . . . helping me . . . this weekend.


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Kay - From the Back Yard

Love the video!

And getting the plants right has plagued me for some time, too!

denise copeland

I played the video and three of my girls heard Jennie and started barking...very funny! I think that Brian's ride should be a new olympic event (with a furry companion as a required member of the team).

I love your cobble stones. I have been thinking about adding these. How did you stack them/integrate them?


You are a very hard worker! The yard will benefit from all your winter planning and dreaming.


Sounds like a good place for a prairie garden full of grasses! You'll get sounds, color and winter interest.


Is that the sit-upon garden tool box on wheels? I have one, too, love it.

Some ideas for that too-sunny, too-dry garden: catnip, both the common and other Nepeta species. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa, a close relative of common milkweed). Yarrow (Achillea sp.; besides the common white, there is a native red that is probably hardy in your zone, and a lovely cultivar(?) called 'Summer Pastels'). For low ground cover: bearberry (Arctoxtaphylos uva-ursi) and Artemesia stelleriana 'Silver Brocade'.

I had a 10'x20' garden on a hillside here at the lake -- exposed to every bit of wind, western exposure, soil that is the definition of lean (rocks, sand, and clay -- almost zero organic matter). The above are what I planted and they all did well. The garden is history now. We remodeled and expanded the house, and that garden is now under the new deck.


I admire you. I admire all gardeners. Here's what I know about knitting! If you frog it, it will turn out to be a better thing. I expect it'll be the same with your cottage garden. Oh--and I loved the video!


TypePad HTML EmailWell, the best thing about gardening is. . . you can always try again! :-)


TypePad HTML EmailJenny barks when she hears herSELF on the video! Dogs are so funny! :-)

The stones were already in the bed when we moved into the house, so I can't really tell you much about stacking/integrating. I do like them, though, and hope to use them "better" in my new design. The stones are actually a small retaining wall in that particular bed (there is a much, much bigger stone retaining wall in the front of the house). Part of carving gardens out of a hilly lot. . .



TypePad HTML EmailOh! Exactly what I'm thinking! There are a few grasses in the bed now, and I'm leaving them in. They do very well. . . (should've been a big tip-off for me!).



TypePad HTML EmailYep! That's a sit-upon garden tool box on wheels! I love it, too! I use it all the time! Brian has been "riding" on it and "skateboarding" it ever since I got it -- many years ago!

Thanks for your GREAT plant suggestions! I tried some butterfly weed out there this summer. . . just as a test. It was great! The rabbits left it alone, it bloomed spectacularly, and now has those wonderful seed pods. I'm leaving the butterfly weed and some grasses out there --- but ripping out everything else. (Classic "what-was-I-thinking" moments. . .)


Erin Mulhern

I can't decide what's funnier; Brian with his giant legs crammed onto that thing...or Jenny.

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