The year 2010 is one half over. It is time for a performance review of the redesigned lawn, first conceived in August of 2009. Read the history about its conception by clicking here-The Lawn Experiment-Open To Suggestions.
We will travel backwards in time, beginning with now, the end of June view of the lawn area from the street. This is the west side of the property, where the circle drive exits. There is a stand of mature Loblolly Pines, not in this shot, at the property edge with shrubbery underneath. Moving east finds the lawn with the Fairelurie that contains the wide border of pink Muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, not shown, on street side, just to the right of the junipers at the bottom of this photo. The Fairelurie will be the subject of its own performance review later in the season. There is a five foot wide curving gravel path, another garden area, then the garage. Between the lawn and the garden, in a line that is even with the back of the garage is a hedge of Arborvitae for privacy, this you can see.
The latest tweaking has been to allow two of the mowed paths to fill in, letting the lawn grass grow untamed with various wildflower seedlings added as they become available in the gravel paths. So far, Verbena bonariensis, Leucanthemum vulgare, Salvia coccinea and Prunella vulgaris babies have been stuck in the now free to be itself grass.
Six store bought Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’ were added at the front edges to keep people from walking on the newly designated wild meadow type areas while they grow to the same height as the original fans.
Continuing in the backwards groove, twenty Longiflorum Asiatic Lilium ‘Royal Sunset’ were planted in March and have just finished the June blooming. Four each were planted in the lawn fan shaped segments, marked with stakes topped with the little onion finials.
Without the lilies to add much needed color, the lawn looks quite messy, chaotic even. Scads of seeds were scattered in there, but the thick grasses seem to have prevented any germination. A new paradigm is needed.
Going back to mid May, four of these red Celosias, (they look sort of like Amaranthus but the tag said Celosia), no cultivar name on tag, were added along with eight Celosia spicata ‘Flamingo Feathers’. It should have been four hundred, or maybe forty, or even twenty, for these two are the stars of the season. Next year we
will might remember to add more of these if they can be located for a reasonable price.
In early May, just before we left for England, the Allium ‘Mount Everest’ proved to be disappointing. They reminded me of giant dandelion seed heads, there were too few, a recurring complaint, and just did not stand out well against the green grass. About the grass however, we had no idea how tall the lawn grass of Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue would be in bloom, or how it would appear. It turned out to be about eighteen inches to two feet tall and quite attractive to our eyes. When the lawn experiment was begun last summer, the bloom period was already past for the grass and the growing season was nearly over so there were questions about how unmown lawn grass would behave.
In mid April the flowering period of Tulipa batalini ‘Apricot Jewel’ was beginning. This endeavor should be considered a success. The height, color and bloom time were perfect. Of course more are needed but we think it best to see how these return before spreading these about or ordering more. Two hundred and fifty bulbs were placed in twelve holes along the wide edge of each fan, three holes per. It was the effort of digging that guided this design. I was tired.
Before the tulips opened, the Anemone blanda ‘Blue Shades’ were a delight. There are no complaints at all about these except that we need more. They have been spread about some right after the bloom was over. After seeing how they fare next year, more might be added. The bulbs are small and easy to plant. The cost is less than the tulips and the return should be more reliable. I love the blue with the brilliant green of the young spring grass and there was overlap with the yellow tulips blooming.
We end with the beginning, January. The lawn fans are freshly mown, ready to begin anew. In this shot, the pine trunks, shrubs, the neighbors house, the gravel path, the Arborvitae and even the corner of the Fairelurie are in view along with the four lawn fans. Imagine the two side paths with taller grass and just the middle path shorter, as it is now. It seemed that the fans were too small and the grass was flopping over the paths, making mowing troublesome, as was dragging the extension cord around the finial stakes for the electric mower. They can be mown short again if that seems a good idea in the future for there are no bulbs in those areas. Yet.
Overall, the plantings of bulbs were good, even if not enough of them were put into the ground. Digging holes to plant anything has proved to be daunting. Under the layer of compost that was spread at the time of lawn seeding is the old gravel driveway of the house next door that was purchased, torn down and the garage built in its place, slightly closer to the main house. Compacted from years of vehicular traffic, this area will never be a fertile bed of loose, light loam. The grasses are doing well and tough daisies and the tall Verbena look good. Scattering seeds was a total failure however, unless some of them germinate next year when the grass is again cut short in January 2011. The bulbs add some zing and more could be added, but the expense, not to mention the poor soil might prohibit that. We look forward to seeing what the second half of the year will bring.