Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gardening on the Dark Side

One of the good things about having a blog is keeping track of bright ideas that didn't pan out. Ah but hope springs eternal here at the Mexican Chalet.
This is our hill, in April '09, aka the Dam which is adjacent to the pond. It is in shade most of the day. Last year I planted liriope which is supposed to grow anywhere and 18 Pampas Grass plants. I totally forgot about planting those. As far as I know, not one Pampas Grass survived more than a few weeks. The liriope is more or less still there, but not what I would call thriving.
Sewcatherine wrote:
I spent the last 6 years pulling english ivy out of my woods that the previous owners let wander later in life. Please reconsider planting the ivy if it is not in a strictly contained area. Your woods are so beautiful. Anyway, hate to sound negative b/c I love your blog and all that you do but I have a personal vendetta against ivy!!

I feel your pain Sewcatherine, but I planted a few English Ivy plugs last year and they THRIVED. I need more thriving, and so I am going to try English Ivy here on the damn Dam.
I am hoping this time my efforts will be rewarded and erosion, weeds, and voles will be thwarted.

Heuchera, tiarella, hosta, peonies and lilies, all planted last year or in '08. I cleaned up this bed yesterday and found most of the perennials had made it, despite being completely overrun by self seeding impatiens, nasturtiums and weeds. I vow to keep a eye on volunteers this year, but I have to say I am pretty darn happy that so many of these have triumphed and flourished. This bed is 90% mushroom compost and mostly shady, except for morning sun. Not in this picture is a really happy Knockout rose. It is already 3 feet tall and has leaves. So in my book, that is a big success.
  The other front garden, which is now double this size is showing promise, but I foolishly planted echinacea, phlox, and coreopsis here and the weak amount of sun caused them all to get leggy and messy. Out they come and will be moved into containers in a sunnier location. So much of gardening is transplanting poor decisions. We live and learn. I have to say that the peonies in both beds are looking really enthusiastic and may actually bloom...if I am lucky.

 On the not so lucky side is the demise of 75% of the euonymus that Dave planted along the edge of the shade garden. The voles ate their roots right off. Since this picture was taken last Spring, we have a big pink Magnolia planted at the entrance.

We are hoping to see blooms like this (from our house in Cary IL 2006).


  1. Good luck with your planting. It's so much fun to see things grow.
    I need to get started on my garden but alas it hasn't happened....yet.
    Take care.

  2. You may want to try some vinca vine. It loves shade and is meant to keep soil erosion down. It has covered our back hillside the little blue flowers are just starting to bloom.

  3. I agree with Jackie regarding the vinca vine. Little blue flowers are a plus and here in SE Pennsylvania it spreads nearly as quickly as the ivy. One tip I can offer if you do decide to plant the English ivy, however. In order to contain it, in EARLY Spring just after the initial thaw, I pull up the stragglers that have wandered into my hosta garden (which was also infested with voles at one point). It will continue to grow back, but I find I can get most of the roots by simply tugging on the vine and cutting it way back. Also, no NASTY VOLE problems with either the vinca or ivy.

  4. Vinca yes! Ivy--Oh dear. We fight the intruding ivy on all fronts. We hate it, even though it is pretty. It is choking the life out of our Oregon forests.

  5. Carol3:24 PM

    Don't you just love digging in the "DIRT". It is such good therapy. Everyday is a challenge to plant, move, sort and replant to find the ideal place for everything. In my raised bed I built this year the onions, garlic, and spinach is standing some at 2 to 3 inches now. Keep Digging.

  6. I'll bet you've tried this - but what about shaping fine-mesh over the outside of buckets - including folding it over the top, pushing the bucket into your planting hole, then removing the bucket - leaving the mesh in the hole, then planting your precious plants and folding the mesh over the edges so the nasty little beasts couldn't easily dig in from the top . . . would that defeat the little beggars?

    Happy Easter,


  7. I planted spearmint outside a window once and it was wonderful to smell on the did take over completely, so be careful using that one. It's very hardy and thrives on neglect. My kind of plant!

  8. Anonymous6:20 PM

    I maintain that at the end of the world there will be two living things and cockroaches. Happy gardening!

  9. This can't have effect in actual fact, that is exactly what I consider.


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