Gardening IS an Adventure!

After 26 years of gardening in the Willamette Valley, I have the opportunity to build a new garden close to the Oregon Coast. Two years ago, my husband and I bought a little piece of heaven along the Siletz River just south of Lincoln City, OR. Being close to the ocean (as the crow flies about 5 miles) the temperatures are mild and we do get some of the marine influence of the cool, foggy mornings. We are also set inland enough that, during the spring, summer and fall months, the fog typically burns off by mid morning and temperatures in the summer reach into the mid 70’s. We are also protected by a low mountain range so we do not get the winds that pick up along the coast. We call it the River House.

This was the condition of the house when we first saw it…notice along the front there is a patch of blackberries

After two years of owning the house, we have done a tremendous amount of work on it

Seems ideal really. And, being the smarty pants gardener I am, I thought, “This should be easy, I can grow anything here!” Well, as I am quickly finding out, that is not the case…

My style of gardening for myself is eclectic only because, I usually have plants left over from working with clients or plants that are left over from the Portland Home and Garden show displays. We use a variety of beautiful plants in our garden displays for a week then, most of them are left homeless. This year, I decided to use some of the plants to create the beginnings of a garden at our River House. I began by drawing up a sketch:

The drawing doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I measured out the space and used graph paper to get the area to scale.

I took the front bed areas I wanted to plant with the inventory I had available. I included Edgeworthia, a “Lemon Cypress”, a Hinoki Cypress, 2 Saucer Magnolias and an Evergreen Magnolia. I also had several Carex’s, a few Cordyline which I usually use in containers but, decided to use them in the landscape. I have also had a Lions Head Maple in a container at my home in the valley that is very root bound so I wanted to include that as well. My focus was to, first, layout the “bones” of the area using the plants that would give the garden structure. So I placed the Maple by the driveway, the Edgeworthia next to our stairs so we could benefit from it’s flowers in the winter and the evergreens I placed so they would help hide the not so attractive underside of the deck. The Magnolias I used on the corner of the bed by the grass so it can get large and spread out.

In the spring of 2016, I cleared the area of all the weeds and dug up blackberries to make room for new plants. Then we brought in many yards of good composted soil. I soon found out that there is a lot of sand and silt in our soil  which is great for drainage but, lacking in organic matter so I needed to add a good composted garden mulch and worked that into the existing soil. I added more local sandy loam to create berms to the landscape. Raised areas in a planting bed create interest so you don’t just have a flat piece of dirt to work with.

Just after planting the evergreens you can see the mounded soil and good organic mulch that I added to the existing soil.

Once I was done with the placement of the plants and planting I added a drip irrigation system. Since we are not here all of the time, I wanted to give the plants a good chance to thrive. I have the drip tubing attached to the hose bibb with a self timer so it runs every day for about 5 minutes. So far, all of the plants have taken hold and are very happy in this front garden.

This is the middle of summer, you can see how the plants have added new growth and are doing very well.

Until next time…

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