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Going Downhill From Here Part 2

Nov 18, 2020All, Garden

In Going Downhill From Here Part 1 it is clearly evident that our side yard hill is quite steep. (Understatement!) Putting in a retaining wall and a small patio was a good first step toward solving this challenge. But, of course, that left the rest of the hill to be dealt with. So we had our property surveyed, and then put in a split rail fence, appropriate for our ranch style home. Fences make good backdrops for borders, so we began planting evergreens along the fence. Primarily these were small evergreens, usually Emerald Green Arborvitae, that had been planted in our winter window box. When we planted the window box for summer, we planted these along the new fence. So that was the start of our downhill border. Since we had the fence and the evergreens, what makes more sense than a path, right? So I began to design a meandering downhill path. (If you haven’t guessed by now, I love love love designing!) We bought bushes and perennials on sale when we could, and found places for them along the path.

This photo shows the path after it had been in a few years. The path was fun to design and put in, and a pain in the neck to keep up. The main thing I needed, and I didn’t realize it at the time, was divider strips between the black mulch and the brown mulch, and steps to help ease the downhill transition. It took a lot of work to keep up, but pretty for awhile. The center photo is some of the iris that we added, and they are still there. The first photo here shows the path going downhill, and the last photo here shows the same path, but going uphill. It really was pretty while it lasted!!
This photo is the same path a few years later. The plants and trees are bigger, and the golden smoke bush was, and is, very outstanding. We love butterfly bushes, center photo, and just planted another one along our side yard path. The first photo here shows the path going downhill; the last photo shows the path going uphill. In it’s heyday, this path was lovely to wander up and down. The reason this path isn’t here anymore is because the trees and shrubs gobbled it up!! I neglected to leave enough room between mature shrubs and trees for a path—probably a common mistake for “beginners” to make. A lot of the trees and shrubs are still there; all they need is for me to design another pathway with more room. And this is a project I am very much looking forward to!!
This is the very bottom of our border; the plants in the foreground are Blue and Gold Tradescanthia. They are perennials and we still have them. I have some in the backyard border, and some are still as shown in this photo. As you can see in the second photo, they are really pretty when in bloom. They are very easy care: after they are done blooming, I just cut them back by about two thirds, and they come back golden and bloom again.
This is the very beginning of our path. Probably a year or two after we started it. Pretty beginnings but not much here. Still it was a pretty place for a peaceful walk on a sunny summer day. The plans I had for this pathway are still swirling around in my mind; they just need to be tweeked a bit and implemented when we have time.

Final thought: This pathway with border was the dream of an amateur with a lot of “book learning” but not a lot of experience. Some things I got right: long sweeping curves with strategically placed bushes and trees to make the pathway seem longer, and with pretty surprises around the curves. And some things I got wrong, and it was a big “wrong”: planting big trees and bushes too close together. But I think it is better to have tried and only marginally succeeded than never to have tried at all.