Friday, April 27, 2012

A Yard Grows In Brooklyn



It may not look like much right now, but the side yard is about to find itself this year. Thanks to my landlord's decision to move his utility poles, we decided to revamp the messy and overgrown plot. I curved our pathway around the building, sending us to where the poles used to rest. Now we can plant in the area we used to use to step over the fence. Farther down is a gate, a broken gate, but a gate. We plan on planting the strip nearer the fence, leaving the side near the building (always under threat from landlordian ideas) as a walking path.

I moved all the iris (the reblooming iris) to the back side of the poor man's patio, intending them to keep the sleeping cats at bay and support the leaning monkshood and phlox that dwell so well under the remaining yew tree. A stump is all that remains of the other yew tree cut after heavy snows two winters back. It is the fulcrum of the planting against the wall, where most plants were divisions from the front yard garden. The dirt patch, where the iris used to reside, will be filled with low to medium height, drought tolerant perennials like the coneflower, lily, yarrow, thrift, tickseed, solidago and ironweed that are already growing here. I removed the 10-foot-tall-growing maximillian sunflower, banishing it to the beach farm fence line. This move I call a 'happy neighbor.'

There are many volunteers, including asters, bachelor button, cosmos, borage, and allyssum that self-seed every year. In between the stones are a variety of sedum -we just bought three quart-sized varieties at Gowanus the last rainy Sunday morning. We're thinking of blue flax for the new strip, a plant admired by both Betsy and I, a western plant, not well known or understood here in the northeast. We asked the nursery if they would carry it so we don't have to mail order ridiculous little pots for the price of a gallon from High Country Gardens or some such place.

We concentrate on drought tolerant because we both know prairie and desert plants well, but also because we don't have easy access to watering and like to leave town on occasion, never having to worry about finding a watering neighbor with a 100 foot hose. The creatures seem to dig them too. The asters become a bit weedy, but they are so easy to dispose. Roses are incredibly drought tolerant and the same for our irises, dicentra, and monkshood. But that doesn't mean if it shouldn't rain for weeks on end, I am not out there with my water can, hoofing the distance forty times. Very little (that anyone actually likes) can withstand all-out drought. This season we are short about 8 inches of rain, but then, that could change in a moment. I wouldn't feel uncomfortable predicting a cooler, wetter summer than usual, but either way, the garden should be up to it.


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