I'm gonna ramble about my garden design. It might not be elegant, but since I have to be smart next week as a teacher again, I'm feeling a bit, oh, je ne sais quoi. Grrrr.
1) Next time I start planting a garden, shrubs are the first priority. This is made obvious by the fact that for 4 months in the spring and summer my garden looks more like a field of dandelions. I'm talking height here. Even texture. It's most disconcerting. Blah blah blah. No structure or interest. (I do have around 20 shrubs out there, mind you.)
2) As a play off of one, I want to add a yellow twig dogwood in a position now occupied by the most slowly-growing 'Isanti' red twig dogwood I've ever seen. It's sibling 20' away gets less sun and is easily three times as big--both were planted on the same day. Deal is, any yellow twig dogwood, even some of these smaller varieties, are just too big. At least, too big in the summer. Come winter, the garden--being overly perennial--looks like a desert of brown vomit. So, in the winter, it'll work. But perennials are neater in the late summer and fall--my fall garden is heaven. The 'Isanti' began to get crowded out this year by wild bergamot, iron weed, eupatorium....
A person just can't go plugging shrubs back into a nearly established perennial garden. It's like putting a baby back into its mother.
3) Trees. More trees. Charming, different, butterfly and bird attracting small trees that grow. See, I got this 'Coralburst' crabapple I rescued for half off from Home Depot. Deal is, it grows slower than the 'Isanti' dogwood. It's even refusing to root well. So I made the mistake of planting a ninebark by it. Already I am envisioning what 2010 will look like in this corner of the garden--crabapple in a ninebark. Maybe it will be a new design fad. Did I mention a 'Snowbank' boltonia is on the other side, and that I hate to cut it back because I like those puppies tall? Crabapple sandwich.
Tall perennials are like a strong narcotic. Low perennials are like sugar in a stick.
4) A higher fence. Much higher. Say, 30'. Neighbor's dog toys shall not bombard my garden like meteors. Better, yet, a moat. A 5 acre moat.
Machine guns that sense movement, zero in, and blast tennis balls out of the air seem appropriate. I've seen these on Ebay.
5) The garden is too small. Not really. But it is. To have shrubs I need fewer perennials. This won't happen. I had so many more insects this year as my perennials matured. Butterflies galore, honeybees en masse. I am becoming entangled in the web of my perennials.
I need more shrubbery to detox me. Ni!
6) Machine guns that also target rabbits. However, I am getting some winter trimming done on my willow 'Nana' don't you know. However, the trimming is becoming most over the top--as in, where did that half of the willow go that was there yesterday?
Ratta tatta tatta rabbit shrapnel.
7) A divine number. What I feel most stupid about is basically a design quandary. Most designers say that in a smaller space like mine (is 1500 feet small?), you should go for repetition, use swaths of the same plants, or at least similar textures and colors. Whatever. I don't think my garden--or most prairies I've seen--look like cottage gardens, so what do I have to fear? But, I do have repetition in plants around the garden, just not together. Is it cohesive enough, or too chaotic to the eye? I'll find out for certain this year, barring a hail storm.
A private backyard garden cannot be a prairie. I'm learning this painfully slow. Native plants or not, I have a manicured garden like those English uptight snobs who have poisoned this country's sense of its natural and ecological self. You can check me on this if you want, because I'll agree with you tomorrow. Hate mail from England in 3, 2....
But I worry too much. I think about my garden late at night when I can't sleep, thus making me stay awake longer doing calculations and line drawings and doodles of shrubs in my head. Let it go. If you love something, just let it grow.