This post is my response to The Patient Gardener's monthly meme suggesting we step back from our flowers and look at an area of the garden in its entirety. I am focusing on the sloping curve that surrounds our Tea House as that is an area I want to work on in the coming gardening year. I finally got started last summer after waiting years until Mark finished all the exterior work on the Tea House. (The side of the Tea House you can't see is still off limits as he has more to finish before I am allowed to plant anything).
This first photo was taken on March 6th standing at our back door at the edge of the deck. I never posted these so I decided to pair them with the end of the month view of the same area to show what spring is like in the Upper Midwest. The garden was obviously snow-covered with not much to see at the beginning of March. But you do get a sense of the rocks and evergreens. This snow had all melted until we got hit again about a week ago. That snow should disappear by the end of the day today.
This pair of photos (below) were taken at the edge of the deck. You can see some winter burn on the shrubs and the whole top of our bamboo is dead again as the result of freezing temps with no snow cover in the early winter. It was just beginning to recover last summer from the winter of 2013/14 so I am hoping it is OK after another rough winter. The tree in the foreground is a Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus Alternifolia) which almost entirely hides this view in the summer.
This last pair of pictures were taken on the west side of the garden where the path splits: You can take stepping stones to the left and go to the deck through a gravel garden or you can bear right and take a pine needle path up behind the Tea House to the little pool at the top of the stream.
I want to make this a low maintenance garden so I'm using plants that I've had good luck with; things that do OK with little attention and never seem to have pests or problems. So there are three tiny trees (Korean maples), lots of ferns (Maidenhair, Fish bone, Japanese painted fern), Hellebores, Arum italicum, Hostas on this side of the Tea House. On the front side with the steps are Yews and Boxwoods, groundcover Irises and Ajuga 'Caitlin's Giant'. Squashed Hellebore leaves, cages around the infant trees, and stakes marking plants to watch for (like Arum italicum which is making its first appearance this year) are all that's visible at this stage of the gardening year.