Monday, September 1, 2014

Transforming a little piece of earth.

Those of us who love rootling in the dirt will begin to understand how invigorating it is to transform a piece of bare earth into something that one can call a garden.  

My little bare corner before planting.

  I wouldn't have dared start this project unless I had gotten a lot of preparatory help from Rodica and Monsieur when my ankle was in a cast.  In fact Rodica and I only started the clean-up which took countless hours.  I didn't really dream big until Monsieur took Rodica and I out to the garden center. 

  The soil in our area of the Mediterranean is mostly clay.  There are a lot of rounded pebbles and rocks which keep the plants drained but  there are too many rocks on the surface to look attractive .  Some  Mediterranean plant species do well in this rocky soil but it can get so dry that in the summer I cannot even get my trowel into it. 

 If one wants to go beyond native plant varieties for a garden in the Mediterranean you need to bring in top soil, the more the better.  In the nurseries here we can buy it in bags of 50 l.  We needed about 12 bags for this project which we bought over the course of a week.

 Monsieur's dream was for me to take the corner in front of the Pyracanthus hedge and transform it into a sort of "herbaceous border." like I had done in the front.  I loved the idea and started by checking out what was available from two garden centers.  A lot on show were annuals and perhaps we started too late for putting them in. Usually May is the start date.  We will have to see what transpires in the fall.  I hope I have enough perennials and grasses to keep the basic design in place.

Here is my finished result for the empty corner above:

I haven't finished distributing the flagstones yet. 

And moving in a little closer you can see what I have here: 

The finished corner

In the photo below you will see the right arc of the garden which I had just put in place.   On the left of the big rosemary bush is salvia with purple spikes ... drought resistant and bee friendly.   I also have three magenta celosia with jaunty spikes. 

 When Rodica was here we picked out some Kalanchoe which are the succulents planted in a group here in showy pinks and oranges.  To go with those we chose some zinnias which have lush leaves which look good even when the flowers are not on show.  

 Also you will see two ornamental grasses, a red one and the light green with red tips.  And in the foreground is a pelagorium and a few irises. This new planting is to the left of a small tulip magnolia tree and in front of two cypresses of different species.  This is the garden to the right of the "empty corner" that I had put in during my convalescence.  

On the other side of the corner completing the "horseshoe" I have clumps of society garlic with sprightly violet blossoms These are so easy to cultivate that I have divided the clumps over the years and spread them about.  Behind these I have several plants of Cosmos which is an annual.  This is another butterfly and bee attractor as are the lavender bushes during the summer. 

That pink blossomed plant is Echinacea or coneflower.  I have 4 of these in various shades of orange and pink throughout the planting .    The cluster of white flowers have not been identified but it is a composition of two plants put together. 

Center Salvia, garlic on right and left, huchera bottom left.

Getting back to my corner, that is salvia again with the purple spikes next to a couple of Coleus with red and green leaves which I have spread throughout.  I also show here a dark purple-green ornamental grass ( to the left of photo) and a crocosmia with the orange blossoms.  It seems to be a slightly different species than the crocosmia which comes up all around my garden in the spring.  In the foreground you see one of 4 hucheras with tiny white flowers on fragile stems.  These are called coral bells and come in variegated colored leaves.

Mallow Rose

This beauty is a mallow rose Hibiscus.  These are rather showy flowers but the color of the leaves was what attracted me.  The flowers are 15-18 cm across or about 7 inches.   They blend in surprisingly well in the border.

In the newly transformed corner I have four kinds of ornamental grasses, one of them is called "angel hair" which seems apt. 

 And there are some red and green cabbages along with the intense chartreuse of the ornamental sweet potato.

 A garden it seems is never static... nature surprises, enthralls and disappoints us.   My new creation is mine now but we will see what nature has in store for me. ... It's all part of the fascination of gardening.   And creating a garden is not at all the same as maintaining one.  Hmmm.


  1. Loved the tour. How nice that you could plant later in the summer.

    Vicki Karen

  2. How Lovely.


  3. Well done, Will you come and do one for me????


  4. "The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul."
    Alfred Austin

    Posted by Colette

  5. so elegant!


  6. Very nice, Mary


  7. Bravo Mary, très joli jardin, un talent de plus !