Front Garden Makeover 2020 (3)

Much of gardening is about improving the presentation. We remove some plants while adding others. We amend the soil and mix in a heaping dose of pruning and trimming. And all the parts of our labor combine to give us the confident feeling that the end is an improvement over the beginning. Garden satisfaction comes when we can pronounce over that new arrangement, “It is good!”

Joy comes from gardening and from making progress in the garden. The First Gardener, God, took joy in His own work. Here’s the scoop from the creation narrative…

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:11-12 ESV

God took His design a step further by establishing the original display garden, Eden.

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. Genesis 2:8 ESV

God gave man an assignment in that garden—to work it and to keep it. Adam tended the garden with all that entails. He watched over the garden, and I feel certain he added his personal touch to the layout. “These plants can move there. We’ll add a new path here. I want less roses and more salvia. Oh, and I’ll install a garden pond just over the rise.”

Isn’t that what all of us do in the garden?

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Genesis 2:15 ESV

The view from our porch rockers has been limited by the trunk of the huge maple standing eight feet from the foundation. Year after year we’ve attempted to garden in the 200 square foot rectangle bounded by our sidewalk, the driveway, and the porch, but Mr. Maple controls that territory. The plants we’ve installed, even those in containers, have eventually succumbed to his aggressive growing habits. In our garden conversations we’ve returned again and again to ideas for improving the spot around the tree.

The prophet Hosea penned these words centuries ago. I wonder if he had observed a farmer turning a field overgrown with weeds in preparation for a new crop.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12 ESV

Break up the fallow ground! Good advice for garden improvements indeed. We determined to remake that garden.

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Use a garden hose or rope to mark the new outline. Spray paint will persist when the digging begins. Cut to the line just like in elementary school. The conduit serves as a tree placeholder.

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Though I have removed several stumps I was not prepared for the quantity of roots we found below this maple.

I’ve written a separate article outlining our decision to remove the maple tree. That was the start of our work to reclaim this fallow ground. The tree and stump went first, and for those activities I had only to watch the professionals and write checks. Next we began soil preparation which required hand digging more than 1000 pounds of roots from 200 square feet of land! Hosea never said that breaking up fallow ground would be easy. We uncovered debris from the house construction (1987!) as well as a generous collection of rocks that can be used elsewhere in our gardens. Our goal was to provide decent soil for the new plantings rather than expect them to find their own path through the mats of leftover roots and exhausted soil.

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I’m a big fan of emitters which offer a way to channel water away from trouble spots.

One of our gutter downspouts drains onto the garden space and though that water flow was not a problem with the maple tree I did not want washout in the new garden. To address the issue I installed a drain pipe and popup emitter to channel roof water away from the garden. Hiding the popup under a stack of quartz rocks disguises it and adds interest to the garden. We added a similar stack of stone at each corner to catch the garden hose during watering exercises. I’ve inadvertently drug numerous hoses across tender plants.

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Place the plants but leave them in the containers for a couple of days to verify the arrangement.

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God blessed the finished effort with several days of rain to water in the plants and get them off to a great start. I added three inches of leave mulch and compost between storms. The drain design worked as planned with no washout. And we are enjoying the new look from the comfort of our porch rockers.

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The front view with no tree!

God’s blessings never cease. Great is His faithfulness.

Front Garden Map Labeled

A map showing the plants we added.

A. Sassafras tzumu

B. “Pardon My Purple” Bee Balm (monarda)

C. Salvia “Pink Preference”

D. Karalee Petite Pink Wand Flower

E. Sparkle White Gaura

F. Some kind of dianthus?

G. Salvia gregii “Cherry Queen

H. Arizona Sandstone agastache

I. White Swan coneflower

J. Lobelia Starship Deep Rose

K. Salvia Skyscraper Deep Purple

L. Coreopsis “Little Bang” red

M. Lobelia Starship Deep Rose

N. Several species of dianthus

O. Pink Microchip dwarf Butterfly bush

P. Verbena bonariensis