Over time, gardeners learn to accept change. Plants die in a severe drought, but some come back the next year and surprise us. A beloved tree is hit by lightning. But after we mourn its loss, we see new opportunities for growing plants that like sun.
Usually, as the garden matures, it becomes more beautiful as plants fill in and we slowly learn the quirks of the soil and climate and patterns of the sun. Sometimes, though, the garden seems to go backwards. Here is the garden edging the front walkway three years ago.
The previous owner had planted illiciums under the front window. The illiciums LOVED this spot and overgrew to the point where it was impossible to keep them from blocking the windows. With regret, we cut them down.
'Sum and Substance' hostas flourished for years along the walkway, with the aid of a covering of deer netting propped up with wooden stakes. But this year the deer figured out how to eat the leaves through the deer netting. Or they pulled up some of the numerous metal stakes holding the netting down at the ground. (How un-deer-like. I thought deer were gentle and passive, incapable of this kind of aggressiveness and persistence.) A couple of months ago I found the hostas looking like this.
The front garden stayed in this embarrassing condition for the rest of the summer, as I was unmotivated to work outside in 95-degree heat. Plus, I knew whatever I planted would die unless I watered it three times a day, which is not my style. Garden plants should not be pampered, or they become dependent and needy.
A cool front came through yesterday, and I decided it was time for a garden makeover. I went shopping in the garden for plants that could be divided or moved. The plants had to be disliked by deer, preferably evergreen, able to take partial to mostly shade, and survive in clay soil. I decided on three autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora) and a Japanese plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Prostrata') that seemed to be getting the worst of a competition with spreading green-and-gold.
Here's the final result.
Now's the part where I practice patience.