From the front, my house looks like it is a one-story ranch, but actually it is a three-level split. Past the house in back the ground begins to slope gradually down to a small lake, but in the center, directly behind the house, the land slopes sharply down to a bluestone patio that’s behind the doors of the lower level.
The garage sits on the main level, along with the living room and kitchen. Three bedrooms, all opening out onto the balcony, are on the upper level, and the family room on the lower level.
The west slope has a lovely shade garden under a huge honey locust tree.
The east slope is a wreck.
It looked nice enough when I first toured the house in September 2008. The next spring, though, I found that the slope had a lot of very boring plants in it. Tons of tall pink perennial phlox, magenta peonies (I think magenta is my LEAST favorite color), a rosebush that hadn’t been pruned in years and flowered only sparsely, and numbingly dull hostas. Only the stand of Siberian irises and native cornflowers were eye-grabbing, but as you can see, they were so much smaller than the peonies that they had little impact.
It was a few years before I gave much attention to the sort-of rock garden on the east. And that’s when I found out just what I was dealing with: idiocy.
On the top, a thin layer of soil over landscape fabric over gravel. Midway down, a little soil, mostly gravel. And at the bottom, maybe an inch of soil over a thick layer of gravel.
I did what I could. I pulled out phlox, I dug out the useless rosebush, I dug out the plain hostas. I cut out as much as I could of the landscape fabric and planted several interesting hostas. Not having the money to put in any kind of water feature, I planned to make a waterfall out of plants. (I have no pictures of these plants, so you’ll have to wait and see this when it’s finally grown.)
In 2012 I was ready to put new plants into the bottom of the garden, and I found – wait for it – buried stepping stones. I’m not kidding. Whoever turned this slope into a garden buried a row of stepping stones instead of moving them.
After an immense amount of labor (I’m not as young as I used to be!), I managed to dig out one of the stepping stones. But the gravel defeated me. It was impossible to plant anything at ground level.
This coming Tuesday a landscaper is coming to talk about various issues so he can work up estimates. I have a purple-leafed plum (prunus cerasifera) that has to be moved to a place where it will stand out. Shrubs need to be moved, and I don’t know where to put them. And my guess is, the entire eastern sloping gravel/rock/stepping stone garden will have to be remade.
Whoever created this so-called garden was a moron!
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