WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on May 29th, 2012

Long Island Garden

May 29

Last thing I remember was hunting wildflowers back in April. Hard to believe it’s the end of May and I haven’t been back. Busy, busy, busy. Oh, I shouldn’t forget extremely sore and tired too. The Long Island garden is finally underway. Looking back to March 2010 you can see the beginning of the destruction that lead to 6 years of gardening being wiped out.

To see more, check this out – Holey Moley

Tearing the house down

April 2012, time to start over. This is one of the few times I have taken ‘before’ photos. I really don’t like seeing them, they make anything ‘after’ look better.

The new house is beautiful but needs something besides the ‘contractors just left’ look.

new house

The future secret garden. A fence will block the view to the area at the end of the house where the master bedroom is.

future secret garden

Doing an about face, the view looks towards the street. There’s gong to be one long narrow flower bed running along the property line. Over time it will gain more depth. Right now I have to limit the size of the planting areas. Even limited space is going to require 1000’s of perennials.

long bed

The old straight driveway is gone, replaced by a curved drive that leads to a large parking area. Yet to be finished, it will be done in crushed stone.


I couldn’t help myself. All the owner needed to say was he wanted to see a striking display as he drove in. There’s going to be one massive flower bed right off the bat.

Big plans turn into a hard-pan nightmare. Two full days of roto-tilling clay ‘concrete’ got me down about 3 inches. I wanted 6 but even with a rear tine self-propelled tiller I got pretty beat up. The tiller bucked and bounced more than a rodeo bull.

large flower bed

20 yards of ‘manufactured’ compost added another 3 – 4 inches of depth to the bed and made tilling much easier. The ‘topsoil’ is now mostly ‘compost’.

compost added and tilled

It comes as no surprise. Dig a hole in compacted clay and you end up with a pond after a heavy rain. Add loose clay and compost and the down slope section of the bed becomes soup. A thick pea soup like mess stopped my planting activities. I’ve changed my plans for the area not yet planted. There’s going to be a pond at the point instead of a huge boulder and Astilbes will be replace with Yellow Flag and Japanese Iris along with some Ligularia.

one sopping wet flower bed

I said it was big. There’s already over 600 perennials in the bed. Astilbes make up a major portion in order to get one big mass of color. Other perennials are Bee Balm, Black Eyed Susans, Bug Bane, Joe Pye Weed, Ligularia, Siberian Iris, Sweet Woodruff, purple leaf Coral Bells and I’m sure there’s something else I forgot.

one huge flower bed

I did start planting the narrow flower beds around the perimeter of the property. I’ll get back to those later but here’s one quick view of a small section that’s adjacent to the secret garden area. The small lawn cutout is my sitting area. Behind the chair are 3 blueberries. What was I thinking when I told the kids what they were? Now I’ll have to see just who gets to them first.

narrow bed

This was pretty much the view in mid May. I came home for a week to plant a shrubbery then returned for another week to do some more planting. So far there’s over 1000 perennials in the ground. It’s a good start.

So if you were wondering what happened to me, now you know. I’ve been playing.

5 Responses

  1. Becky Says:

    I was wondering. It’s nice to see you are out doing your thing. I like what I see so far,

  2. Randy Says:

    Looks like you have been really busy! What an ugly house though. The garden sounds lovely, should have been more blue berries so everyone could enjoy them. Hate porta johns….

  3. Marguerite Says:

    What a garden! The owner is going to be pleased as punch (as long as he doesn’t have to weed it?). You have obviously been going full tilt. My flower garden is similar size or slightly smaller and I’m going on 2 years working on it so to have accomplished this in a month I’m quite impressed.

  4. Carol Says:


    Love your work, style and humor.


  5. Carol Says:

    One of the most widely grown irises that has been reclassified is ‘Sans Souci’
    (Van Houtte, 1854), one of the many sports of ‘Honorabile’, a variety with proven
    hardiness and a penchant for throwing out sports of its own. ‘Sans Souci’ had been
    classed as a Tall Bearded variety originally, but is now listed as a Miniature Tall Bearded. Oddly, ‘Honorabile’, to which it is identical in all respects but color expression and tone,
    was originally classed as an IB. All the sports in this family are now classed as MTBs.

    I tried to cut and paste…what happened?