Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

giganteus! oh my

Monday, October 17th, 2011

I’ve been known to stalk plants. This year, Miscanthus ‘Giganteus’ (Giant Chinese Silver Grass) has been my prey. I came across it last summer when I was stuffing my yard with other grasses — unfortunately, I only came across it online…

miscanthus giganteus photo by marcia sofonoff

miscanthus giganteus photo by marcia sofonoff















Wowza. Giganteus! More info here. You may have come across it while ogling Margaret Roach’s garden via A Way to Garden

miscanthus-giganteus-fall via

miscanthus-giganteus-fall via (best garden blog ever)


Gorgeous. But try to find it at a nursery. Impossible! Actually, that’s not exactly true. In July, I finally stumbled across it at Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingstown, RI, far toward the back in their display garden…

miscanthus giganteus at farmers daughter



















To look at, not to buy. But get a load of that stature! And I’m very impressed at how it stands up to the wind…

miscanthus giganteus vs. the wind












So after a little more research I found that you can easily pick it up on eBay (in season). That’s where I got mine this summer — cheapcheapcheap. Little known fact: apparently it’s been grown in Europe as a source of biofuel since the ’80s and it’s finally making its way stateside for the same purpose.

I really wanted to see this monster at work in a real-life garden — in person and not just online. So when I saw that Duncan Brine was opening his Hudson Valley garden to the public for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days schedule, I was psyched. We were sooooort of headed in that direction anyway last weekend for a visit to NYC. It was worth a jog to the north to see what he’s done with six acres.

This stand of giganteus greets you on the way in (click to biggify)…

brine garden giganteus hedge












So what secrets lie on the other side of that 12′ hedge?

brine garden giganteus on the other side












Twisting gravel paths and naturalistic plantings. I love the way the giant miscanthus contains this garden.

And how about a zinc bench ringed by giganteus? Cozy…

brine garden bench in giganteus












I can so make this work, even in our urban garden. My eBay plants are still mere spindly stalks at around 6′ or 7′. They’re eager to get into the ground before winter…

my giganteus




















Can’t say as I blame them. Maybe this week?

Thanks to the Brine Garden and its lovely host, Duncan, for encouraging my obsession. And for not making fun of me for my stalkerish tendencies.

two weeks later

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Misty, foggy days are ideal for baby grass…

grass at two weeks, closeup




















Starting to look like a lawn! Click to biggify…

grass starting to look like a lawn

















160 hours later

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

My friends, we have achieved grass. One week from planting.

baby grass

urban jungle

Friday, October 7th, 2011

So I drove to New England Bamboo in Rockport, MA on Labor Day Weekend to pick up my newest garden addition: Phyllostachys nigra ‘Hale’ black bamboo. Three hours of driving. I was home by 9 am. That’s how much I had to have it.

Over the last few weeks I’ve debated a few different spots around the yard but have decided to put it here…

hale black bamboo... testing how it looks












Once it fills in, it should help screen the patio from the street. In the shot above (click to biggify if ya like), they’re still in the pot. But when the crew was here last, I had them dig a good-sized bamboo pit about 2+ feet deep for me…

the bamboo pit from above



















My bamboo barrier just arrived. It weighs more than 70 lbs. Between that and the yards of loam I’ll have to shovel, it sounds like I’ll be getting a workout soon.

136 hours later

Friday, October 7th, 2011


no grass yet

followup: how’s that hillside?

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

This is for you, Shiva, my dear!

MARCH 30, 2010

hillside: march 30, 2010 a disaster after historically heavy rains












APRIL 3, 2010

hillside: april 3, 2010 reshaped with new soil













APRIL 5, 2010

hillside: april 3, 2010 biodegradable erosion control added











APRIL 6, 2010

hillside: april 6, 2010 brand new planties












OCTOBER 4, 2011

hillside: october 4, 2011 first view












hillside: october 4, 2011 second view












hillside: october 4, 2011 third view/closeup of sweetfern




















Not completely filled in but looking fabulous. No more erosion issues. Yippee!

If you’re interested in the plant choices, check this out. FYI, we ended up putting the Cornus canadensis (creeping dogwood/bunchberry) at the top of the slope in the shade instead of on the slope in the sun.

69 hours later

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Nearly constant showers since the day the seed was put down. Prime temperature range. Anybody want to wager on when we’ll see green?

69 hours later

42 hrs later

Monday, October 3rd, 2011


grass watch: day 1

ocd grass planting

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Let’s review: Last spring, we planted a lawn. This spring, the lawn got torn up to make way for the  new patio and koi pond. And now, I’m planting a lawn.

The last of the steel edging is finally in where I drew the boundaries between the future lawn and beds, and the composted topsoil is all raked out. Perty…

steel edging border the lawn












I seeded the lawn yet again, using the same grass seed mix as before…

seed bag












sunny mix












shade mix












As you can see, the seed is from last year. Hope it’s still viable. Fingers crossed. Did I add lime? No. Fertilizer? No. I want neither washing down into the pond.

Because we’re on a slope and lost seed in the past each time it rained, I wasn’t taking any chances this time. Burlap to the rescue! It looks like I’ve got a Martha Stewart complex and went and quilted the whole backyard…

burlap view from house












Half of it I rolled and stapled down in a mad rush during yesterday’s rainstorm. The burlap is biodegradable — so I could leave it down and let the grass grow right over it. Or, from what I read, I could decide to pull it up when the grass is at least 1/2″ tall. We shall see.

This project is Bambino approved.

burlap with cat




Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

gophers!! okay, not really




















Okay, not really. Those are piles of new loam that the crew is laying down today so we can finally have a little bit of grass. Yay! No more dirt washing into the pond! We hope.

The last of the steel edging was put in to separate the grass from the planting area…

more steel edging




















Before the screened topsoil and compost came roto-tilling — better aeration for fledgling grass roots…

rototilling the lawn area




















The border around the house is finally complete. It went from this…

border before




















To this…

border after




















Mexican beach pebbles from The Stoneyard now top off the crushed stone. Picture this up against siding with a dark grey stain instead of light sage…

border with pebbles




















Looks great, right? Better shots when all the soil is in.