Friday, September 30, 2011

Strawberry Take Over in Evergreen Garden?

Evergreen Garden Site 2006.  Project began 2007.
       This spot in my front yard looked cool, green and inviting, but in reality wasn't used for anything.  Just more lawn to mow.  I decided it was the perfect place for an Evergreen Garden, which would eventually provide both a sound and visual screen between the road (on the right) and the house.  I visited a local greenhouse for plants, expecting to choose between a half dozen or so trees and shrubs.  I found both more plant choices and more help than I expected and came away with pacific juniper, old gold juniper, dwarf Alberta spruce, Bosnian pine, Holger juniper, eunymous, birdsnest spruce, weeping Alaskan cedar, sea green juniper, Wichita blue juniper, blue rug juniper, American holy, white pine and a few other selections, totalling about three dozen plants.

Evergreen Garden, Fall 2011.  The tallest tree, in the
center of the cedar path, is the Weeping Alaskan Cedar.
       My husband helped me dig holes and set the plants. I figured on enlarging the mulched areas around each plant as they grew until the entire area was grass-free.  That proved to be more digging than I wanted to do each spring.  I tried laying out pool liner (left over from the water feature project) to kill the grass, but I didn't have enough to cover the entire garden--not by a long shot.  Reluctantly, I gave up being Green and used Round-up. 
        Then I struggled with the question of what to use as a ground cover.  Buying mulch for the entire area was way outside my budget.  Luckily, during my search for plants for a Master Gardener volunteer project, I discovered a local nursery that specializes in wild plants.  They recommended a combo of wild strawberries and common cinque-foil.  I planted flats of these in late July of this year, plus a few wild strawberries that I grew from seeds.  I used cedar mulch to mark paths through the garden. I even expanded the garden area, eliminating the grass between the two sides of our U-shaped driveway and the western edge of the garden, visible to the left in the photo.
Front yard of wild plant nursery owner. 
This mass of wild strawberries and cinque-foil is
what I envision as a  ground cover in the
Evergreen Garden
       The strawberries I planted here look very little like the stunted ones I see in the wild.  The ones from the nursery are well established already and are sending out lots of runners.  The ones in the foreground are the plants I started from seed.  They were less mature at planting time and that shows now.  I tried some sweet potato vines as ground cover too.  What the rabbits didn't get are doing well.  The garden's west side is edged with a few hundred daffodil bulbs.  I've read that they'll serve as a block against grass. 
       From the outset, the goal here was a pretty barrier against the traffic on the road in front of the house.  I probably won't live long enough to see this garden reach maturity, but while it's getting there, I hope to be enjoying the view and eating lots of wild strawberries.  Yum. 

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