Monday, May 24, 2021

Unexpected new planting space in the SW Corner

If things look immediately different in this photo it's probably because we got new patio furniture...

I wish I could say I love it, but I don't. I mean I like it, and I like it a lot more than what we had before. I was head-over-heals in-love-with that original set when we bought it, in 2007. But after thirteen years, not so much anymore. I hunted for something that made me giddy when I saw it, but never could find it, thus another IKEA set will do—for now.

New planting space though, that's what we're talking about today. I wish I had a before photo, but since I didn't know it was happening until it was happening (and really I was still asleep) there are no "befores"...

There was some strange police activity on our street the night before this all happened. I spent an hour—a very late hour—up watching the action (and I'm still not sure what I saw), once I crawled back into bed I wasn't able to fall right asleep, which meant I slept a little late the next morning. About 10 minutes after I poured my first cup of coffee there was a knock at the door, our neighbor across the back fence was trimming the laurel and wanted to know what I thought about the possible changes.

Let me just say, I don't function until I've had at least the first cup of coffee. It was very kind of her to come over and consult with me, but I felt in a daze. I was not awake. AT ALL. There were lovely draping branches of laurel that sort of fell over the fence and created a green back drop to the area below. I liked them. A lot, now they're gone. I've never seen that meeting of fence styles before, it was always hidden.

But I also knew she really wanted to cut them, they are her shrubs and I needed to just go ahead and rip off the band-aid. Let it go. Not my plants. It's always better to control the green and plant on your own land rather than rely on the neighbor's plants—and so now this is my view.

We'll make our way over there eventually, to look at it in detail, so you can see the new space. But first I want explain what's going on in this area, which you may have noticed in the first few photos. Last summer my Sasa palmata 'Nebulosa' (wide-leaf bamboo), in the stock tank, suffered a mite infestation. I cut it all down to try and stop the mites from infecting the other bamboo.

I was good timing as the ice storm we had in February would have flattened that bamboo anyway. I just got ahead of the game. New shoots are doing their thing and it's filling in nicely.

Behind the bamboo tank there are a few mahonia and aucuba finally starting to fill in.

And a vine climbing the fence, Holboellia angustifolia var. angustifolia.

Mahonia x media 'Marvel' from the Sunset Western Garden Collection. You might remember I just picked up one of these when I spotted it at Pomarius Nursery a couple weeks back. Little did I know I was going to have an empty corner to plant in!

So, there it is. The empty corner.

Here's my quick sketch to try and help you understand why this used to not be at all visible. The neighbor's laurel just draped over the fence and provided a green screen to an area that—I'll admit—was kind of a dump for heavy, wet, rain gutter cleanings and never really got cleaned out back when we put those stock tanks in; after building the patio and before installing the shade pavilion. 

In other words... untouched for YEARS.

And now there it is, a scar for all to see.

And it's not small...

If you're wondering why we placed those tanks so far out from the corner to begin with, well, so am I. I think perhaps back then I never dreamed I'd run out of garden space. 

The poor variegated fatsia took a beating in the February ice storm, new growth has begun to pop out of the lower trunk, it will be interesting to see what it does now with more light.

This corner—the SW corner—was my last really dark spot...

...after the big reveal last September of the previously shady area behind our garage (the SE corner), which I wrote about here. A large potted daphniphyllum is helping me to feel better about that spot (please pardon the galvanized tubes/pedestals that have not had their planted tops/trashcan lids put in place yet)...

I thought I should dig up a couple of old images to at least give you an idea how dark the newly revealed SW corner used to be. This is August of 2019. You're looking at the space to the right of the shade pavilion, that just sort of fades out of sight...

And here's the view in September of 2020...

And now...

So, I've got some scheming and shopping to do!

From the patio it's not terribly obvious, unless you know to look for it.

But it's there, and empty. I don't do empty. Any suggestions? It's a partially shady area. I'm considering a tree, or maybe another stock tank...

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Found space! It always feels like a minor miracle to me when I "find" some. The first question that came to mind for me in viewing your new space is what's the soil like? If its full of roots reaching over from your neighbor's side, it may be a challenge to plant a tree - unless you bring in top soil and build up a berm, which is also an option. I wouldn't feel comfortable making plant suggestions as your growing conditions are so different than mine. I look forward to seeing what you do, though.

    P.S. I think the new patio furniture looks great.

    1. The soil... I'll let you know when I find it! After years of leaves and fir needles (and branches and cones) falling, there is very thick layer of fluff on top of any actual soil. In fact I had to rake/scoop it back to get it off the bottom of the fence. Right now it looks like there is already a berm there!

  2. AnonymousMay 24, 2021

    This is most definitely not a scar. This is an opportunity. This is prime gardening real estate. Woo-hoo!

    Sometimes ideas spur other ideas so I'll just throw suggestions out and perhaps you will spring from one of them...

    Ginger? Too mundane?
    A viburnum of some kind? Many varieties enjoy shade.
    How about a laurel of your very own? You liked it when it hung over the fence.
    Carolina Spicebush? It might be too shady for this plant, but to it's credit, it is dangerous as it is poisonous.
    How about a HUGE fern? A tree fern? Okay, that's not a spiky plant...Or what about a super spiky acanthus?--They do shade and are wicked with spikes.

    Go forth and plant!!! Can't wait to see what you come up with.
    FYI - I, too, like the new furniture.

    1. Oh how I would love to be able to plant a couple of tree ferns there... that would be AMAZING! Unfortunately they aren't hardy here. But I agree, throwing out ideas that can be built upon is always a good thing. Wheels turning...

  3. God I wish my neighbor would cut the laurel that overhangs our back fence. I hate it. It does provide a nice screen, but I could plant stuff myself to give privacy. That is a lot of space! So exciting! I also just found myself with a bunch of new square footage to plant in our front yard; not by accident though. We finally tore out four pampas grasses that had to go in order to get our Backyard Habitat Certification.

    1. Yes pampas grass does take up a lot of real estate doesn't it? Congrats on your new space!

  4. It was nice with the dark laurel corner before, but I know in no time at all you'll make it even better with the Danger Garden touch. Still, having lost plants unexpectedly in the Texas freeze, I know firsthand it's a bit of a shock when change is thrust upon you.

    1. Yes indeed it is, no matter the cause.

  5. Leucothoe populifolia

    1. That's a new one for me, and I appreciate your specificity! I do grow Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Rainbow' and love it.

  6. A fun problem to have! I'm sure you will do something brilliant.
    I like the new furniture, I think it suits the patio very well.

  7. Being the one-trick pony that I am, I immediately thought “what a great place for a palm tree.”

  8. My 20 year old standard lilac died and I am ok with it. A wonderful plant in a visible spot. I am suddenly able to cope with changes in my garden and the three that abut me. It seems to be my post COVID attitude . I’m trying to see all of it as positive.

    1. Interesting that you bring up COVID, no doubt it's changed the way I think too.

  9. Jeanne M DeBenedetti-KeyesMay 28, 2021

    Oooh, nice space, Loree! I like that idea of tree ferns in that area. Can't you have Andrew make a new arbor/cover for them???? You could put some more passiflora over it???? Ok, what tree, large plant have you been wanting but didn't think you had the space for?


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