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Michael J's Garden

Michael J's Garden, a 7 year project that's still a work in progress

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    We bought this house 7 years ago and at that point, there was very little landscaping and a really rotted wooden deck on the back of the house. First project was to rip off the termite infested wood boards, regrade the earth across the rear foundation to get drainage away from the basement wall and then I installed a larger blue stone patio. On the back side of the patio, I poured footers and built two small blue stone capped knee walls for interest and something to sit on. On the yard side of the walls, we put in perennial gardens filled with Shasta Daisies, Coneflowers, Ajuga bugleweed, Blue Star Sapphire Hens and Chicks and moss between the randon cut blue stones on the patio. I ran low voltage landscape lighting to highlight the wall at night.
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    For Screening around heat pump/air conditioning condensors that we installed on the outside of the corner of the house, we planted 3 ft tall Skip Laurels. Thick, shiny leaves that don't flinch in cold weather or hot, in shade or sun. More astounding, deer ignore them completely. This is what they look like after 3 years. They grow about 12 -18 inches a year if fertilized and watered. They are perfect for creating privacy. Now 3 years in they are over 9 feet tall.
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    Here's a picture of what a Skip Laurel plant looks like at just over three feet. I planted these last year in another spot where we want to screen. You can buy them in larger sizes if you want immediate height but you'll pay lots more for bigger plants and like I said , they grow fast.
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    Another shot of perennial plantings by the other patio knee wall. In addition to the cone flowers and shasta daisies on this side we also used some Foxglove which I love because of the 5 foot height and pink, red, purple, white, and yellow color of the flowers.
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    The pre-existing dogwood trees were filled in with more Skip Laurels 6 years ago. They are now 14 feet. Interspersed between the Laurels and a couple of different Viburnum. Viburnums are a vast group of large, deciduous shrubs that are relatively troublefree and attractive for their flowers, fruits, fall foliage, and shape. We used traditional Vibernum on the front and a Waxy shiny leafed version called the Leather Leaf Vibernum on the side. Vibernum maintain about 60 -70% of the foliage thru winter even though they are not an evergreen. All of these plantings were used to screen and create a berm effect.
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    It can be a stretch to get Magnolia to grow this far north but I think it's worth the trouble. The flowers that bloom by mid Summer smell so sweet and the Shiny leaves look really pretty.These two plants were 4 footers when I planted them 3 years ago now. They grow slow and got hit hard with that bad winter we had a couple years ago. They don't like cold AT ALL. Fortunately they are starting to recover. If you plant Magnolia, the more wind protection you give them, the better!
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    Look even a little bit a Spring and the Tuilips are ready to pop!
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    This is a bed of Bearded Iris' that will bloom much later this Spring. Great purple flower!
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    If you are looking for an ornamental, flowering tree of medium size, the flowering plum may be the tree for you. We planted a 8 Footer a few years ago and it's really filled out already. It will bloom in a few weeks and I'll take more pics. Love the Color in the Spring with the flowers and the Purple leaves right up to November.
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    Camellia Japonica are great plants. We planted three of them. They don't have much, if any fragrance but they kick off Spring with BIG BEAUTIFUL Flowers.
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    Another shot of the Camillia plants in front of the neighborhood bird house.
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    My favorite tree of all that I've planted. This is the second Weeping Kwanzan Cherry tree that I planted in this spot. Not sure if I had over watered or not properly prepared the root ball on the first one, but it didn't make it. So I yanked that one and tried agin. This tree has really taken over.This birds love to use it for nesting. It supplies lots of color in the yard and it gets much bigger. Will end up 18-24 feet in a few years.
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    Close up on a Camellia flower in the sun.
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    I couldn't plant gardens and not include a big splash of Rudbeckia. Otherwise known ase Black Eyed Susan, the Maryland State Flower. I always laugh when the Preakness is televised nationally, If you watch this year on May 18th, you'll see Pimlico covered with Black Eyed Susan. If you know anything about these flowers, you know they don't even begin to bloom until late July into August. That's why my plants look so small now. So how do they get the fully bloomed flowers in May for the Preakness. No Lie, they HAND PAINT THOUSANDS of Hot House grown Yellow Flowers with BLACK PAINTED centers to look like Black Eyed Susans. Somebody sure has gone to great legnths to make Maryland look good on tv for years at the Preakness!
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    The Bark peeling White River Birch tree gets huge here. I planted this at 14 feet and it's taken off. It fully leafs out a little later than most other deciduous trees but when it does it provides great shade and the trunk is always interesting to look at with its peel! The downside of this tree is that it's a bit messy dropping thin branches that die for some reason and the roots like to stay near the surface of the turf as they stretch out seeking water and they can pop out above the dirt creating spots where grass won't grow. No worries as long as you bed around the base. We have done that with lots of purple Ajuga plants which stay green most of the year. Further we edge and mulch all the beds with two inches of wood mulch which covers root growth from the Birch tree as well.
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    May First and the Dogwood Trees are blooming.
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    If you look close at the Dogwoods, you'll see that even in the sunshine with beautiful flowers, the trees are still really struggling. Dogwoods over all have a very tough time as they age with diesease. It's called Dogwood anthracnose, caused by the fungus Discula destructiva, is a serious disease of flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) andcontinues to make an impact on the vitality of Kentucky landscape and forest dogwoods. Where is Dogwood Anthracnose? Dogwood anthracnose began in the northeastern U.S. about 20 to 25 years ago and during the last several years has moved down the Appalachian mountains into many of the southern and mid-south states, including Kentucky. The disease is different from previous anthracnose diseases we have seen, and is sometimes referred to as “Discula anthracnose,” named for the fungus that causes the disease, and also as “lower branch dieback,” the most common serious symptom seen. Prune out and destroy dead twigs and branches as they occur. Rake up and destroy fallen leaves in autumn. If the tree is valuable enough, fungicide sprays may be warranted.
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    I planted two types of Viburnum shrubs. My favorite is the "Leather Leaf". I t flowers now and keeps the majority of it's deep green shiny leaves year round
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    Here are a few more pics of my two Leather leafs in Springtime!
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    Too bad they don't have much fragrance but they add lots of color to the yard screening.
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    Hostas - There must be a million different varieties. They'll grow pretty much anywhere. They like to be watered, prefer the shade and come back year after year bigger and bigger. They are fairly easy to transplant and look good in groupings. I have several different types around my gardens. These are "Blazing Saddle' hostas.
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    I tried to group a solid group of all of the same Hostas under this Dogwood tree.
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    One of my favorite smells in the Spring air is from the blooming Lilac Bush. This shrub explodes with color in the next few weeks. I wish I could make these pics 'Scratch and Sniff".
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    Here are a couple Skip Laurels, side by side. I've been talking to my kids about how there are boy and girl plants just like people. Can you tell which one is which here?
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    Under the River Birch tree with the awesome peeling bark, the ajuga is beginning to flower. It will fill back in too a lot in by the beginning of June/
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    Cheryl has everything to do with these plants and she knows them by name better then I do. She likes to intersperse Herbs like Oregano, Thyme and Basil in between the Coneflowers, Foxglove, daylillies and dasies. It will be several more weeks before these all bloom but I wanted to show you how they are growing.
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    Just as the Camellias in one part of my garden are dropping their blooms, the Rhododendrons are getting ready to pop. These will have HUGE flowers a little later this Spring.
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    Right next to my Rhododendrons are another one of my favorite plants. The Peonies. These also get beautiful large fragrant flowers. Ants love them and actually help the bloom so don't freak when you see little sand ants all over this plant. They help it pollinate.
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    Under the Birch tree pictured previously, I have a large area of Ajuga (bugle weed). Here's what it looks like close up flowering. In a few weeks the blooms turn darker purple. That's it for May 1. More pics to come by mid May! mj
 
 

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