Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pulling the thorn out of my side and creating a focal point

For the entire 4 years and 11 months that we’ve lived in this house I have hated the view as you walk into the back yard/garden. You see the peeling white/grey paint on the side of the neighbor’s garage and (for the 11.3 months that it isn’t in bloom) the wall of green that is the Rhododendron. It was finally time to do something about it. Here is the view the day I got started on the painting project. Oh … yes, that actually was the view. I came outside already to start scraping peeling paint and there was a pair of Scrub-jay’s in the yard. They couldn’t have cared less that I was there, just letting me go about my business while they went about theirs. Here is the view of the project, after I had spent a few hours scraping paint.Day two of scraping and sanding below. Why is this picture important? Well if you look at the above picture vs. this one you’ll see the large blob on the left, a perfectly nice Hebe, is gone (where the black step stool is). I got brave and just tore it out. It was a nondescript mass of tiny leaves that sucked up light and did nothing for me. Gone! It felt so good to get rid of it.
Finally after scraping, sanding and painting primer (and this isn’t even my garage!) I got to put the first coat of paint on. Color! But…here comes all the second guessing of my color choice. Did I choose the right one? So many factors went into choosing this color, too many to bore you with here… and now I hated it. Maybe it would get darker with the next coat? Oh and the Hebe in front of the Palm container…that’s the last time you’ll see it, it's gone too! It’s so liberating to get rid of plants that you don’t like anymore!
Painting project done (and I’m starting to warm up to the color) and it’s time to plant the palm in the ground! Poor thing had been in the container way longer than we planned. I thought we were going to have to break the pot to get it out but miraculously we didn’t! Lila is so proud of the effort that she needs to pose with the empty pot.
Look at those roots! This palm is going to be so happy to finally get in the ground.
Done! Such a difference. And in case you are wondering about (or irritated by) that warped board to the right of the Palm…me too. But there is only so much you can do when it’s your neighbor’s garage, not yours.
Since I planned on working this planting area after painting I had been accumulating new plants to fill it in, combined with a few I had dug out before painting. It was so nice to get them all in the ground. And be happy with the end result! And yes some would consider it ‘over-planted’ but that’s my style.
Some of the plants…Globe Thistle Echinops sphaerocephalus 'Arctic Glow'
Plume Poppy, Macleaya cordata
New growth on 1-yr old Callistemon
Eryngium agavifolium
Close up of its wicked teeth
More teeth on the Honeybush, Melianthus major
Echium wildpretii
Trachycarpus fortunei
Trachycarpus wagnerianus and Plume poppy
Yucca 'bright star'
But there was still one more thing to do; I wanted to create a focal point as you enter the back garden. The wall of green from the Rhododendron and Privet needed to be broken up. Since this is the danger garden what better than an agave, right?
So my sweet husband, who thought he was finished placing the 89-lb slabs we built the patio and path from, agreed to place 3 more of them in the lawn. Giving me a place to set a trio of agave containers! Well, 2 agaves and an aloe. Here is the “after” shot…
Nice that the Rhododendron cooperated and turned out in full bloom for the after shot huh? Project (almost) done, I’ve decided the silver square container (which is planted with a red/brown aloe) needs to be round, and colorful…to break up the metal squares. So a replacement is in order. Then the project will be done! Thorn gone and focal point created!


  1. I like the colour, but moswt of all I like the overcrowded bed! I like squishing the plants in too! Yay for loving your plants, and creating space for more treasures by getting rid of the meh plants.

    I also have a thing for the way you layed the pavers, very nice!

  2. Great job at working the Rhododendron into your plan! Some folks just rip them out without considering how to use them. My friend is trying right now to hide her's so I'll have to show her what you did. Beautiful work!!! It is so pleasing to the eye.

  3. Looks great, nice colour on the garage, I like it. Also love your pavers (I think I've commented on them before).

    The trio of pots and that Agave really pull the eye to the far corner of the yard. I'm not really sure how colourful you'd want to go with the third container though, don't want it competing with the Agave too much.

    Also so jealous of how well Rhodos grow for you guys out there!

  4. Danger Garden is looking superb!... nice planting. Is that Yucca Rostrata in the far left?
    I like your photo of the chipped palnt, but the wall does look much nicer now.

  5. Looks great! I'm so glad you ripped out the boring hebe. Always rip out plants you hate! I learned this a couple years ago, and went on a delightful bender destroying hideous magenta azaleas and replacing them with bottlebrush buckeyes. SO satisfying.

  6. AnonymousMay 21, 2010

    What a great transformation! It looks fantastic.

  7. Patricia C, Portland ORMay 21, 2010

    How I envy your planning sensibilities. No wandering around the yard for your wondering where on earth to plant all this stuff you just bought.

    I'm pretty sure I need a Trachycarpus fortunei, but didn't see any at Means yesterday. They always have them, except the day I decided I absolutely must have one. (Not that I know where I'm going to put it.)

    Your yard looks great; a most excellent color choice.

  8. Laura, I can't say enough good things about those pavers, they really are worth every cent (and pound).

    Ficurinia, thanks! When we bought the house both Rhododendrons were on the 'must go' list (there is one out front too) but then I realized their huge size really added to the garden in a positive way and I needed to work with them. I've grown to love them.

    Andrew, very good point about competing with the needs to be the star! I've been rotating a few through the spot to see what I like. Currently a black and chartreuse number is in the lead. We'll see.

    linda, yep! That's our Yucca rostrata...Sammy.

    Greensparrow, omg..."a delightful bender destroying hideous magenta azaleas" had me laughing so hard! Why do I hate azaleas so much? We had 2 large ones when we moved in the house. Both gone, first the daisies...then the roses...then the azaleas.

    myimaginarygarden, thanks!

    Patricia, oh give me too much credit. I wander all the time! It's these moments when I get to plan that are the rare ones. Usually it's wander until I find a place or just give up and put it in a pot. Right after we bought our Trachy at Cistus I saw them CHEAP at Dennis 7 Dees (Cedar Mills right off hwy 26)...and I think they give HPSO discounts too!

  9. That paint job makes the whole bed look so much better, even if you hadn't changed a plant. But you did, and it's 100% better now with that signature Danger Garden style. And then you went and created a fantastic agave-centered focal point! Wonderful editing job. I'm envious of your garden.

  10. How satisfied you must feel! That's a beautiful job on all counts, Loree: the paint color looks just right to set off all your yellow/green/gray foliage, the pavers create a fabulous focal spot that you can easily edit, and the plants you added (and removed - you're so brave!) finish the look perfectly. I envy your design eye!
    And how smart of you to start with your neighbor's garage in committing to a paint color: if you decide you want a slightly different shade on the house, it will be fine since it's separate from the garage.
    I hope your t. fortuneii does as well as your neighbor's and ours have - they're so rewarding. Is the big agave in the pot a. americana? If so, I better be planning a bigger pot for mine!

  11. That is almost exactly the color we ended up with after much experimentation with more exciting choices. It really does show off plants to great advantage. It won't be long before the plume poppies alone will camouflage the warped board (which I kinda like, by the reminds me of the Indian custom of weaving in imperfections so as not to compete with the Gods).

  12. Pam, thank you! I didn't think I had a signature style...but I like the idea!

    MulchMaid, welcome back to town! Yes you are correct...the paint job was a tentative step toward the big leap of our house in the fall. And I am enjoying how it warms up the planting areas. Yes...Agave americana variegata. But this is a BIG one that I bought at Rare Plant Research a couple of years back. Here in cool went Portland I find they don't grow all that fast (unfortunately).

    ricki, that was exactly my plan! There are 2 Plume poppies planted right under that board. I was at Cistus this weekend and found myself jealous of how big and healthy theirs are.

  13. Great job! And I would hardly call the garage area over planted, it's just right!

  14. Doesn't it feel good to get rid of something you hate looking at? Good makeover, I'm impressed with how established it looks. Overplanting is definitely the way to go.

  15. Looks great. And your Rhodo is so full. I wish there were cold hardy palms for a Chicago winter :) This is the first season with my new Musa Basjoo (hardy bananas) so we'll see. Keep it up.

    Well Done!


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