We’ve had some serious rain, which is good for the garden. It also cooled things off somewhat. Before it rained, I added three wheel-barrows of old horse manure to the lower part of the front yard. I also moved a lot of the astilbe from the front yard to the new Thelma-rock-walled bed under the pine trees.
The astilbe were unhappy in the front yard because the soil there was too dry. The two giant maple trees suck up a lot of water. I also suspected that the soil there was in need of more amendments. So I laid the manure on pretty thick. I plan to add a layer of moldy hay as well, to really hold in the moisture. I took the time to re-set the slumped low rock walls, and beat back the spreading gooseneck loosestrife patch to re-claim a path. I did some weeding, and also moved a ligularia that was in too dry a spot. I’ve been moving a lot of hostas around. They’re amazing –being moved doesn’t seem to bother them a bit. This is the very bottom of the front yard, near the road. I loosened the heavy, clayey soil, planted some very large hostas from other spots where they were crowding other things, and then added a layer of old hay to the top. There is also a bleeding heart and a columbine there. This is part of the low rock wall (well, barely a wall–just a row of rocks, really) that I re-set. The rocks on the lower tier had completely sunk into the ground. Along with the ferns the ligularia are on the right, a small astilbe front and center, and the cimifuga uphill from the ligularia. I think you can see the manure I added. It is two-year-old well-composted manure, so I put it on very thick without worrying it would hurt the plants. The manure was full of critters–wolf spiders clutching their white egg sacks, pill bugs, earwigs, ants, worms, centipedes. I kept thinking of my sister’s garden which she is working to make more hospitable to worms. Her garden soil will look like this someday soon! I also thought of her chickens–they’d love scratching through this soil! You can see that I rely a lot of ferns and hostas. In this lowest and darkest part of the front yard I also have astilbe, one massive cimifuga, three ligularia, some dwarf goatsbeard, chelone, and solomon’s seal. There’s a lot more variety in the top and northern side of the front yard because it’s quite sunny there. I think this is an astilbe (maybe a dwarf goatsbeard?), and next to it a ligularia. Neither have been very happy in the last two years, so I’m hoping this new manure dressing will retain moisture better for them and feed them better. Beautiful hostas! That light yellow-green one is wonderful in the shade. I bought this hosta as part of a collection five years ago and have now divided it into probably ten plants. That other one near the rocks could be divided into at least five plants–if I had space for more!I used to dislike hostas–now I love them and have them all over the garden. This morning the raindrops gleamed on this blue-green hosta in the “below the kitchen window garden”. Here is a pretty white and green hosta on the left, along with a patch of chelone that is spreading here nicely. Here are some astilbe just starting to bloom. These are on the sunny side of the front yard. All around them are columbine that self-sow in this whole area, to my delight. There is also a blanket of sweet woodruff and a kind of ornamental strawberry that wants to take over the world. This is standing in the shady part of the front yard, looking north down the path I just reclaimed from the over-enthusiastic gooseneck loosestrife. This is a photo of those loosestrife from last July. Last July was brutally hot and dry, so in a usual year these are even more impressive. With all this rain we should have a good loosestrife year!