Oh Alison, what have you started!?! Encouraging us to share the ugly bits of our garden...people are going to discover this gardening thing is hard work, that gardens aren't always "tour ready"...that nature is, well, messy!
Today's truth—if you can handle it—involves the area to the west of our patio...
There are three oblong stock tanks full of bamboo. Bamboo was our quick and dirty solution to losing the green wall of laurel that was there when we bought the house. The neighbor behind us cut it down (we thought it was ours, but it turned out to be hers) and built a hideous fence. Then she sold her tiny home, it was torn down and a pair of towering three-story replacements went in. But that was then...
Now there's tall bamboo that flops when heavy rains and wind hit, as they've done over the last few weeks.
Draw an imaginary line straight up from the edge of the patio, see how far the bamboo is hanging over that line? I've got some major cutting back to do.
The Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' and M. eurybracteata 'Indianola Silver' are both looking nice, even though they're under an overhanging bamboo canopy.
On the right, in the photo above, is the Tetrapanax which almost pulled out of the ground a couple of years ago, forced down by the weight of ice built-up on it. I braced the trunk with a piece of Arctostaphylos wood and never have gotten around to taking it out.
Up top the inflorescence is still budded up...
Okay enough stalling, it's time to go behind the bamboo...
Some people have expressed surprise there's so much space back here, what can I say? We placed the tanks in early 2006, I really had no idea how precious every inch of space would eventually become. Back then we hadn't built the patio yet and just arbitrarily chose placement that seemed appropriate.
Looking north along the fence you can see there isn't much open space past that first bit. And it's not always this chaotic back here, you can usually see the side of the second tank. Wind and rain have downed a few otherwise upright culms,
And caused the Sasa palmata f. nebulosa to lean at an unfortunate angle.
Although fact it only gets sun from the east and directly above —never from the west—certainly doesn't help. (I'm looking up at the neighbor's laurel, they did a wonderful job of pruning it last year, we just need to keep up with it).
Looking north towards the second tank: broken bamboo and Mahonia x media 'Marvel'...
Filling out (hopefully, eventually) the "empty" space behind the first take is Aucuba japonica ‘Longifolia’...
Another Aucuba japonica ‘Longifolia’ and a long forgotten grass...
The cement wall section seen above is the end of the wall at the south side of the patio, the one which runs in front of the shade pavilion. I have to say taking photos for this post has been a great reminder to get out and trim that low-hanging laurel now, when my yard waste bin isn't overflowing, after all that poor variegated Fatsia (that's the long bent trunk emerging from the stock tank, above) deserves to stand upright!
This is the first year the Mahonia x media 'Marvel' has bloomed.
Between the first and second stock tanks, just behind the Tetrapanax you saw at the beginning of this post, is an old metal IKEA planter with a Daphniphyllum macropodum in it.
How did such a cool plant get shoved in such a lame place? It's a long story. I keep meaning to actually get out here and dig a hole in the ground for it (that way I could trim even more bamboo and still have green), but haven't done so yet.
Although there are a few rocks. I keep forgetting I used to pile them back here. I should start digging them out and use them.
On the far end of the tank, looking south, towards where I came from. (those bars at the back to the tank are long pieces of rebar I drove into the ground to help tie up leaning culms after the neighbors trimmed their laurel)
And north, towards the NW corner of our property.
Aucuba himalaica var. dolichophylla, this plant is a trooper! It's in deep shade and gets no summer water, none! Still it lives on.
The back of the third tank...
And peeking around the edge of the second, back towards the first. There's a whole lot of Aspidistra elatior in there, along with a couple of small Tetrapanax and the large one's trunk (and another Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress').
Let's venture all the way to the fence shall we? It's really ugly back here since I haven't done a thing to clean up after the leaves fell this autumn.
Dried Paulownia tomentosa leaves in the Fatsia polycarpa ‘Needhams Lace’ and bamboo.
And there are more Paulownia leaves and a nice layer of Doug Fir needles over the gravel mulch. At least when it's thick and a little wet I can lift up chunks of leaves and needles, revealing the gravel below. A little raking of the gravel (mostly with my gloved fingers) and the remaining needles will sift lower through the gravel, now I just need to get back here and do it!
Here's the corner and the Eriobotrya japonica and a random bit of Sambucus. I pollard the Sambucus every spring when it first starts to leaf out.
More Eriobotrya japonica and Sambucus.
A random Doug Fir branch at the base of the Paulownia. Notice how clean my neighbor's gravel is, on the other side of the fence. They have a mow and blow crew come through every week. We've caught them blowing stuff through the fence to our side. Nice eh?
Time for a beauty shot! The variegated Daphniphyllum as it looks right now ...
And a reminder what this area looks like from the patio side, when all the foliage knits together, photo taken last May...
The Paulownia was freshly coppiced back then, just beginning it's growth spurt.
The non-variegated Daphniphyllum and Sambucus are both looking lovely.
And the Fatsia was showing off it's dramatic new foliage.
But let's get back to dreary, messy, January as I retrace my steps behind the tanks...
#tellthetruthtuesday is a garden bloggers meme that Alison (Bonney Lassie) created to help keep it real, to show the reality that our gardens aren't always perfect. I think I've delivered!
I'll end with a photo I dug up from 2006, showing the tanks shortly after we placed and planted them. Things were a little different back then, like you can see the old, tiny, house behind us, the one that was torn down. Oh, and look, there's Clifford (our big-leaf Magnolia) on the left, with just five or six oversized leaves...
Weather Diary, Jan 21: Hi 50, Low 37/ Precip trace
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