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2010 Living Fence Expansion

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Project by Radicalfarmergal posted 07-04-2010 02:21 PM 1541 views 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This spring I expanded our living fence garden to cover the entire width of our property along the street. Part of the expansion I had planned during the winter. I knew I wanted to expand the garden to include one of our crab apple trees, eliminating a difficult place to mow and improving the living conditions of the tree. Around the apple tree, I put down a thick layer of newspaper and cardboard and covered it with a generous layer of hemlock mulch. Around the sunny perimeter, I planted Lupine, Yarrow, Sage, Holly and I tucked a very young Colorado Blue Spruce into the shade. I am hoping the spruce will become a Christmas tree in about seven years time.

The rest of the expansion was unanticipated. Through a tremendous barter, I acquired some beautiful young hemlock trees, so I expanded the living fence on the other side of the yard as well. It was a great deal more work than I had planned, but I am very happy that I did it. As they grow, the hemlocks will offer an attractive privacy screen from the road and may also block some of the cold winter winds coming from the north. One of the best parts of this expansion was that all the plants (except for the Holly bushes) were basically free, either gifts from neighbors, bartered for chicken eggs or new plants I have propagated from our existing ones.

None of my garden projects are ever completely finished, but at least I have reached a stage of completion until the fall when I plan to add bulbs and perennials to help fill in the gaps until the trees become huge.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout



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Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1900 days
hardiness zone 5b

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living fence zone 5

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20 comments so far

View jroot's profile

jroot

5063 posts in 2268 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-04-2010 02:41 PM

This will look wonderful when it matures. Already it is looking good, but gardeners always forecast into the future. :-) It is good to cut back on the hard places to mow.

Well done.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14682 posts in 2638 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-04-2010 02:58 PM

dang that is NICE
I have SO much work to do around here.. wish I had bartering possibilities here …

fantastic job, Robin and great planning

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2417 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-04-2010 03:36 PM

What a nice area you have created Robin.Looks good.Now you just need a lot more flowers in there. :-)

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1616 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 07-04-2010 04:54 PM

Well, that is a pretty scene you have created there Robin. Is it the Hemlock that is so red? I know, or at least think I know that the hemlock is poisonous, or maybe just some part of it. My keen interest is aroused because I was just wondering if snails would steer clear of hemlock mulch. Also I want to express my envy of your crab apple tree. We don’t have any here that I know of, but we had lots of them in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We used to make a pork rib rolled to the shape of a crown and served with red (Food colored?) crab apples around it skewed onto the rib ends at the top, and the center was filled with corn dressing to finish it off. A royal treat for the eyes and it tasted pretty good too!

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3807 posts in 2267 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-04-2010 06:56 PM

Robin, that looks so nice…..and what a lot of work you have done. These projects you get into are so big, it exhausts me to just hear about them. But you did a fantastic job here and it looks wonderful. In a few years it is going to look even better. Now, as Bon suggested…..a few more flowers. Bulbs are a great way to go as you usually don’t have to worry about them growing and they come back year after year so nicely.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1900 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-04-2010 09:15 PM

Thank you. I am happy with the way it turned out and my husband appreciates the fewer circles required when he mows the lawn. It took most of the spring to complete this project because I was trying to squeeze it between all my other projects, but as Jroot said, I can already imagine what it will look like when it matures.

Iris and Bon, I like your suggestions to add more flowers. Remember learning about the olden days, when people would all come help out for a barn raising? Everyone came, helped out and then ate and enjoyed good company. If I have a flower planting, will you two come? I do have some flowers in my more established living fence sections, I am just not very good at taking pictures of them.

Stefang, that is the natural color of the hemlock bark. It fades in the sunlight; you can see the contrast between the mulch that is several years old off to the right in the first photo. I don’t know if it deters slugs. It is so hot and sunny where that garden is, no slugs could survive there long.

I am surprised no one noticed my mischievous little tree dweller. He often helps me with my GT projects and sometimes makes my photography task more difficult. You cannot really see him unless you “Zoom” the photos.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1735 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 07-05-2010 01:23 AM

Hi Robin,

You spoiled my fun. I was going to ask you what that funny fruit was growing on your crab apple tree!

Nicely done – it does look like a lot of work but the great thing about tree planting is that (hopefully) you only need to do it once in a very long time.

Things look lusciously green there and I’ve seen that it is quite hot this summer, so that might explain your early ‘fruit’ in the shade of your tree.

Happy 4th!

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1940 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 07-05-2010 03:26 AM

Looks like a nice job. I saw the little tree dweller:-) I was wondering what he is up to ?

I worked on my living fence today too. I had set out some cheap fall clearance honey suckles and roses a couple years ago. I weeded them, deadheaded the roses and pointed the honey suckle through the chain link fence they are by. One of the 4 roses is doing great, 2 marginal and 1 coming back from “0”. I had about 5 honeysuckles, only one made it thorough the first winter. It happened to be the first time we had freezing weather that actually froze the ground in about a decade ;-(

View davidc61's profile

davidc61

417 posts in 1671 days
hardiness zone 4

posted 07-05-2010 01:13 PM

Very nice, you say none of your garden projects are ever completely finished, is there a gardener out there that ever completely finishes a project, I know I don’t, it gives me an excuse to do some more…...... Good job.

-- David, Adelaide South Australia. Every day I wake up breathing is a good day!

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3807 posts in 2267 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-05-2010 07:30 PM

LOL I can’t believe I missed that little bloomer in the tree. :) But he thought it was great fun to ‘trick’ us. :)

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View Weedwacker's profile

Weedwacker

297 posts in 1564 days

posted 07-07-2010 07:44 PM

What a cute little tree gnome you have there. He will be a strapping lad by the time that Blue Spruce become a Christmas tree. Those are picky rascals so beware of the old growth. There will come a day when you will have quite a fine looking tree in that space. That’s what is fun about kids and plants, watching them grow.

-- Margaret, Eagle Creek, Oregon. A garden is never finished.

View Greenthumb's profile

Greenthumb

2287 posts in 2457 days

posted 07-07-2010 11:55 PM

As always

Beautiful.

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2417 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-08-2010 04:55 PM

I can’t believe I missed that gnome in the tree.(lol) Cute shot.
I am honoured that you would want me to come and help you plant flowers.Thank You.If you lived closer I would definitely come and help.I have some beautiful rudbeckia and echinacea this year if you would like me to send you some seeds this fall for winter sowing.I will blog them sometime soon so you can see what I’m talking about.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1900 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-08-2010 09:46 PM

Thanks everyone. My youngest son spends quite a bit of time climbing trees. He also likes to get into the photos I take, which increases the challenge of getting a shot I can use. But he is very fun to have around so I don’t complain. : )

We are having a tremendous heat wave. Many things I planted this spring are dying from lack of water in this intense heat. Nothing looks green anymore and there is really no rain in sight. I am trying to bring water to the newest trees, bushes and perennials that haven’t had time to establish deep roots yet, but it has been tough. I have lost many of my winter sowing flowers. The sun is too strong and the soil is too dry; I just cannot keep them going. Even the leaves of my tomatoes and potatoes are curling up to reduce their water loss. On the other hand, the zucchini, cucumber and popcorn are loving the hot weather and our popcorn is already over our heads. Bon, at least the Amaranth and Bachelor Buttons I planted in the gardens have survived but I think I have lost many of the others. If I plant flowers, I guess they have to be tough.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3807 posts in 2267 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-09-2010 12:24 AM

We are getting a little shower just now as I type. But if it doesn’t continue all night, it won’t be enough. The temp. has dropped from 98F to 74F. Ah-h! relief.

I’m sorry you are having the same heat problems, Robin. I hope you get this relief coming your way too.

When it gets this dry and hot, keeping the veg garden watered takes priority over flowers. And , of course, you’ll want to help the new trees to survive the drought. As you build an established perennial garden, you’ll find they are more resistant to drought. Like grass, perennials can go into a dormancy and when the moisture comes back the plant recovers, although you may have lost the blooms for the season.

Like Bon, I would love to come to a flower-planting bee for you. :) If there is anything you see in my pictures that I could share with you, just let me know.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View Weedwacker's profile

Weedwacker

297 posts in 1564 days

posted 07-09-2010 06:08 PM

The East Coast is really getting blasted by the heat this year, really odd. Now the Pac. NW got the heat lamp turned on, great for the farmers that are cutting and baling hay like there is no tomorrow, but all the Rhodies that pushed quantum amounts of new growth with all the rain are like cats on a hot tin roof. You can almost hear them shrivel. Last year was so hot the flower buds on the Rhodies toasted, but on the 4th of July jst last week I noticed a couple of single flowers sprinkled about the bushes. These bushes are so confused. I’ll be suprised if I get any blooms next year as well. But they are hardy and they will survive. They bloom wild up on the mountain sides where some years there is no water and other years they are buried in snow until July.

Iris is spot on those perennials will take a couple of years to root in and then all you have to do is dead head or cut them back in the fall. I just whack mine off after they are done blooming. After awhile you start to treat them like old relatives instead of new friends. Try to throw a little water on them at least in the evening. Don’t need to spoil them they’re tuff.

-- Margaret, Eagle Creek, Oregon. A garden is never finished.

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2417 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-09-2010 06:49 PM

Robin lots of times the hardy perennials seem to die off in the heat when they are small but usually the roots survive to sprout up again once it rains and cools down a bit.Don’t pull them out just yet.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1900 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-09-2010 11:06 PM

Thank you for your support, Iris, Bon and Margaret. I am not pulling anything out and I am watering things when I can. I think I might have lost an elderberry and a persimmon tree. Both were newly planted this spring in a very hot, exposed area that I am trying to change from dead, dry lawn into an edible forest. These days in the high 90s/100s have just been brutal on the plants that don’t have close neighbors and/or shade. I keep watering them when I can and I hope they will bounce back. When I was watering today, I noticed that more flowers survived than a thought. The love lies bleeding flowers look ragged but are definitely alive and many of the little hollyhocks and others with names that I can’t remembered look like they might come through. I will just have to be patient and see what comes.

And thank you both for your kind offer of seeds. I have been thinking about what flower seeds I might gather in my garden to share. If my red penstemon survives (It should, it is tough) I can collect some seeds to share.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Vallyncia's profile

Vallyncia

84 posts in 1512 days
hardiness zone 8

posted 10-19-2010 09:53 PM

Beautiful! When I finally have a yard of my own I will use this as inspiration. Excellent job, and awesome to see you working with nature instead of landscaping against it like so many people try to do.

-- Gardens are a form of autobiography. ~Sydney Eddison

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1900 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 10-20-2010 02:07 PM

Thank you, Valyncia. I lost one young hemlock tree in this hot, dry summer, but I replaced it with a little red cedar. This fall, I am trying to rake some of the leaves that blow onto the lawn up onto the mulch to add extra nutrition to the growing plants. Now that the plants are a bit bigger, I am hoping they will hold the leaves better in the wind.

Based on your beautiful community garden plot and balcony, you will make any place of your own a wonderful piece of nature. How is your organically-waged battle against the slugs coming?

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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