Tag Archives: creeping jenny

Impulsive Erosion control

I may have made an overeager mistake yesterday. In an act of “That’s it, Im doing something”, I began some impulse landscaping on a part of my yard that has started to experience some significant erosion.

IMG_2535Its not that my intentions are misplaced, I just should have given more thought to what I was doing and how I wanted to solve my problem. Especially given that my problem is a short, steep hill in the front of my home. Landscaping on a slope is one of the most challenging landscaping nightmares of all time, so if I mess it up, I will wind up with a mudslide during every rain, and a large, cavernous hole in my front yard by fall.

It started with some “innocent” snow sliding during the winter. Tiny bottoms eventually wore off the snow and found contact with the ground beneath. It started to wear away. Eventually all of the children in the house began to kick at the naked mound of dirt. I have no idea why, or who started it, but by spring a small crater had developed. This crater was slowly getting larger with every rain, leaving a moderate sized muddy patch on my driveway. I needed a child deterrent.

IMG_2561That afternoon I divided a whole slew of Iris. It was the only other thing, besides a ton of creeping jenny and daylillies, that I could easily multiply without making the rest of my yard suffer, or purchasing ready to go plants (I can’t afford to bust my budget on this). I also decided to lift a few daffodils, as well (they needed to be moved) since this “quick fix” would likely last a few years, and I wanted some color for spring interest.


The result is a little pathetic I am sure my neighbors think Ive lost it again, but it does seem to have stopped my sons in their tracks. They already know mommy doesn’t like them to step on her plants, so they are mostly avoiding the new iris location, with occasional relapses.

Im not so sure the creeping jenny will make it on that small hill, because moneywort (another name for creeping jenny) is not fond of dry areas. But that is my quick solution. I plan on gently watering the area for a few weeks until the moneywort establishes, and then reevaluating my options. I need to make a landscape design. Something involving pavers and creeping phlox.

IMG_2563But, for now, my plan is in place. And so is a little regret. That spot was ugly before. Now its just ridiculous, and the wind is more brutal there than I realized you can see how the Iris have broken under the force. But . . . it is doing its job-keeping the adorable little erosion promoters in their place. And that is really the point. I just wish I could make it pretty this year. Terracing this area is something I don’t have planned for at least another 2-3 years. Blech! It is so ugly!


DIY Landscape: Forsythia corner Part 2

Cont from Part 1.

I am so glad it rained last week! Had it not, I would have made a major error in my fruit tree placement. It turns out, the spot I had all set up for my Plum tree totally floods when it rains. Those tree roots would have rotted out in a matter of months!

I moved the designated spot up about 18”, and over by about 2 ft. This way the tree roots would be removed from the floodwaters, but still have access to constant moisture.

IMG_2507This is yet another prime example of why I have so much natural stone in my landscape design. Dug this baby up while bringing my curve around to accommodate my changed space.

To date, it is the largest one I have found. It was only 2 inches beneath the grass. My husband had to move it to our discard pile when he got home-I just couldn’t lift it. That sucker must have been a nice, solid, 50 lbs.


That little boulder came in handy! It allowed me to finish the third “terrace” on the sloped landscape I have created by the southern exposure of our house. It was just tall enough for a significant gap that kept eroding with the rain.
IMG_2532After finishing the sod removal and relocation of my designated Plum tree spot, I also transplanted this forsythia I got for free last year from the Arbor day Foundation. It had been in that “third terrace” location, heeling in. Since I never wanted that to be its original destination, I decided it was time to move it. Forsythia can handle a fair amount of water logging, so it was the perfect shrub for the flood zone, slightly behind and to the left of the plum tree.

IMG_2533My Plum tree is supposed to have pale pink-white flowers, which I think will be a great complement to the yellow flowers of the Forsythia. I just don’t know when the Plum goes into bloom. They may miss each other by a few weeks.


I also found time to divide some of my creeping jenny and place it around the paver path that goes around the Forsythia in the corner. I am learning I need to be proactive about erosion control. Mud-valanches are a headache. This area had previously been protected from erosion by hundreds of out of control daylillies, so I replaced the invasive daylilly with the equally invasive (but much lovelier) creeping jenny. I am hoping they will fill in fast enough to mitigate any muddy disasters.


Don’t you love it when free plants find their way into your garden? This Grape Hyacinthe is my first official volunteer! I found her hiding amongst my onions. She has since been relocated as a ground cover beneath the corner forsythia. Attached to the mother bulb were four baby offsets. I separated and replanted those, as well. If they grow as quickly as the mother bulb (which can’t be more than a few months old), maybe by next year I will have four times the amount I have now? I guess I will find out. In addition to the bulbs, this subtle pop of purple will also spread seeds (I’m sure that’s how it wound up in my garden to begin with-one of my neighbors has a broad patch of this in a corner near my yard).

IMG_2363I also seeded wildflowers and giardia, planted some Liatris corms, Acidanthera bulbs, 4 Rudbeckia, two Peony roots, two pink hollyhocks, and some phlox. With the exception of the Liatris and Acidanthera, all of these were purchased from Wal-Mart.


The phlox are already coming up. I don’t expect my hollyhocks to present for some time. The peonies, though, are also coming up, much to my surprise. They are in better shape than last years crop, and I suspect that may be because I planted them in March instead of April. Peonies need a period of cold in order to really take off, and this years new Peony roots got nearly 4 weeks of cold weather before warmer temps set in.


I am curious why the first peony, the pinkish one, is a different color than the second one. They are both supposed to be the same type, “Bowl of Beauty”. Maybe its location? Soil type? I placed the same amount of decomposing organic materials (tree bark, leaves, etc) into the planting hole. I guess, in a few years, when they bloom, I will find out if the color difference in the leaves is indicative of a different variety! But at least I know, by now, that they are actually peonies. Last year I hadn’t a clue.

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Based on the placement, I think this grassy emergence must be the Liatris. They have been coming up at regular intervals, so I’m fairly certain they are the Liatris Corms. No sign, yet, of their companion, the Acidanthera. Unless these are the Acidanthera? I don’t think so. Based on the online description, this is more than likely the Liatris.


I am now waiting on the Arbor Day order, and after those trees arrive, everything will be in its place. I can’t wait to see how it all works out!


DIY Landscape Part 6: Plants

Cont from Part 5.

Now for my favorite part-the plants! I LOVE flowing plants! The boxwood were possible all I thought I could take of non-flowering plants. And though I had a “basic” landscape design, I didn’t know exactly which plants I wanted to use. I had thought out some of my plant selections, like the Iris and the Peonies, but not all of them. And like most people, I am susceptible to the catching disease of impulse plant buying-and found out many of the reasons why a well thought out garden is preferable to a garden driven by impulse.

I had purchased some Peony roots, Gladiolus corms,  and some packets of seed for Lupine, Shasta Daisy, Forget me nots, and Sunflower (for the kids to have fun with). I was in a bit of a hurry for flowers and foliage, so these went in while the path and yard were still “in progress”.


The Peonies probably took the longest to grow, even though I planted them first. I dug holes in the grass and surrounded them with stones so I would know where they were. They went in the first week of April, and I just can’t remember when the buds started to emerge, but I was also in a hurry since my neighbor mowed down one of the emerging peonies. This was what inspired the brick border between the lawns, something that became a priority at the time.

Here is the “damaged” Peony at the end of May, sending up its second shoot, with pictures of the other two that were planted at the same time. Obviously they had more time to develop.


And here are the same Peonies almost a year after initial planting (the damaged peony is reflected in the last two pictures).


I planted the glads behind the boxwood. It seemed a good idea at the time-they were supported by the house, they had a vertical space to enhance-and for the most part, they did bloom. But I discovered the first of my many impulse buying errors-not all “perennials” are perennials in my zone. Glads happen to behave like an annual. The frost and winter moisture kills them. If you want them again the next year, they must be “lifted” in the fall. I didn’t do that. I want a low maintenance garden. Lifting corms in the fall is anything but.


The Lupine didn’t make it more than a few months. Im not sure what I did wrong, because they germinated fine, but I decided that if they needed more maintenance than I could give them, they weren’t appropriate for the spot, so I won’t be trying them again.


The same went for the hollyhocks and the astilbe, both of which I planted bare-root.

I also planted seeds for forget me knots and shasta daisy. The forget me knots did great, but I think I accidentally pulled up the shasta daisy (a common theme with me-everything looks like a weed until it flowers).


Here are the baby alyssum that that were spot planted. They worked splendidly as erosion control, and I will probably plant them again this year if they didn’t self-seed.


At a local greenhouse, I purchased 3 containers of Hens and chicks (mainly to go between the borderstones for the path). I also received some for free from another neighbor a few blocks. He had advertised at the local nursery that his “little poultry farm” was “growing too large”. He sent me home with a large cast iron pot smack full of them.


Another impulse buy-Peruvian Daffodil. I have a sneaking suspicion these are also annuals in this zone.

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The rains were eroding my path. After some research, and some investigation into my slope, I realized not only did I need a low, creeping filler plant between the pavers, but I would most likely need two different kinds. One plant, at the top part of the path on either side, needed to be tread resistant, and tolerant of well drained and dry soils. The other would also need to be tread resistant, but tolerant of wet soils since it was in the valley of the slope.

Hence the creeping thyme at the top . . . (the first photo is from last year, the last three were taken a few days ago)

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. . . and some creeping Jenny at the bottom of the path. The creeping jenny spread fast and far in very little time. I have split it up and moved it to many different locations in the yard. I love how quickly it grows, and am not deterred in the least by its potential to take over everything.


My order for Hydrangea Ruby slippers hasn’t arrived yet, but it should be here in April. I also have some purple sage plants (between all the Peonies and the future hydrangea plant) . . . they are starting to come up . . .


Tulip and crocus . . .


Glory of the snow . . .

IMG_2349. . . and Agastache Raspberry summer (to replace the Hollyhocks).

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Behind the Agastache I planted some impulsively purchased purple globe allium. These suckers may be too big for that small patch (they now have a 5” circumference), but I am still excited to see how they look.

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I purchased some Sunbeam Coreopsis last year, having been informed that they were a perennial and would come back. This year, in spite of my doubts, I found that there did appear to be tender buds beneath the plant, covered in leaf mulch. I planted them in front of the future hydrangea site both to “heel in” while I prepare their future location, but also to help with erosion in that site.


I had some lobelia, but I think I killed it. The greenhouse informed me it should do well toward the bottom of a slope where there was a lot of moisture, but I am not so sure now. They died out pretty quickly. I suspect root rot. I’ll keep an eye out for growth from the area where I planted them, but I have very little hope.

Cont to Part 7.