My First Sight of the Gardens at My New House – Back Yard

Earlier I wrote about how the front yard looked when I was first thinking of buying this house. When my realtor and friend Wilma and I saw the back yard, it was goggle-eyes time.

The view of the lake and dock were simply stunning.

Dock on Valley Lake

My dock on Valley Lake, October 2008

(More about the dock in a future post)

Shady garden in back yard

Shady garden in back yard

The shade garden under the giant honey locust tree was somewhat messy, but many plants were still identifiable: hostas along the front edge, ligularias around the birdbath, a huge aruncus (goatsbeard) in the back behind the lamppost. You can also tell from this picture how much the fence darkened over the next 7 years (see Powerwashing Magic).



From these two pictures, taken from the balcony at the back of the house, you can see most of the back yard. There’s a lovely stand of arborvitaes along the left edge of the property, with gigantic hostas to their right. In the righthand photo, what I think is a staghorn sumac is clearly visible, along with an – at that time – unknown shrub to its left and a barely visible corkscrew willow behind it.

Unlike in the front yard, though, the surprises in the back were mostly going to stay hidden for a few years. For one thing, all of the perennials I had brought with me from my old gardens had been planted helter-skelter in the street border, so it was instantly apparent when existing plants came up and collided with them.

In back it was different. I didn’t realize the problems in the sloping garden until I started putting in new plants at the top and hit the be-damned landscape fabric a few years later, and it was even longer before I found out the unbelievable shallowness of the soil on and at the bottom of the slope (see Whose Great Idea Was This?). I also didn’t know then that the sumac would send suckers out up to 15 feet from the tree. I didn’t know then that ligularias self-seed everywhere.

But then, I also didn’t know that in the unknown shrub I had a star magnolia.

Star Magnolia

Pièce de résistance – the Star Magnolia


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