Backyard Priority Project #3: Behind Yews & Along Fence (Walkway + Screening)

You can't swing a gardening blogpost around the Web these days without people warning gardeners like me (beginners!) to be VERY careful of plantlust and Spring Black Friday mania.  That means...don't fall in love with plants and then 'find a home for them'. That's what I've done far too often. Instead, all the gardening bloggers/experts (dare I say....ummmm..."influencers") will tell you that having a plan is the KEY to a garden design.

In an effort to reinforce this notion with myself, I'm publicly committing to trying to stick to my priorities this year.  We have a large yard that is NOT anywhere near done.  We need so much plant material.  But, we also have a professional plan.  And, instead of winging it, I'm going to try to stick to it as best I can.  And, because I did some "winging it" over the past two Summers, that means adapting the plan to incorporate some of the existing materials.

This is the third in the series of backyard gardening priorities.  The first one featured a section of our south fence line and includes the addition of a series of Oak Leaf Hydrangeas, Summer Beauty Allium and some Fanal Astilbe.

The second in this series featured the 'bridge' between our row of Frans Fontaine Hornbeam trees and a large Oak tree that we have a tree swing hanging from that is fairly close to our patio.  This 'bridge' is the key to connecting our Hornbeams to the rest of the yard.  That section calls for the addition of a series of hostas, ferns a Viburnum or two and some Spiked Ligularia.

This third priority section is a part of the yard that I've covered many times before.  It is around the area where I removed this medium-sized Buckthorn (invasive) tree last Fall.  I featured a part of the plan all the way back a year ago - in January - where I called out the three Hemlocks (and the Buckthorn removal).

In our first season in the house, I planted two trees in this section.  One lived (the Crimson King Maple) and one died (the Corkscrew Willow).

I also stuck some 'teardown' plants back there including a few hostas (you can see them in the photo of this tree post) and a neat fern that came out of Nat's sister's lot.

For Earth Day in 2018, we planted a couple of trees back here including a Red Valley Sun Maple and a Weeping Cherry (lost).   this past year, we planted three small Canadian Hemlock trees back in the corner and then later in the Summer, we added a non-called-for-by-the-plan row/hedge of Hicks upright Yews.

The concept of the 'walking path' was part of my yew hedge planting, but the real inspiration was this photo of Bunny Williams' sweeping hedge which I think was itself inspired by Jacques Wirtz cloud hedges.

So, now that I've set the foundation with what we're working with, we can turn our attention to what is new here.

Earlier this month, I mentioned the idea of planting a Pussy Willow (instead of a Viburnum) in the far backyard.  It would provide a screen, some Winter interest AND provide some material for a wattle fence.  Love that.  You can see that I've called for that shrub on the middle-left of the image at the top of this post.  Companion with it is a Chicago Lustre Arrowwood Viburnum on the other side of the existing Catalpa tree.    Next to those - kind of in front of the back gate - is a set of Oakleaf Hydrangeas.  This is certainly deep shade, so that's likely why the Oakleaf variety.  These three hydrangeas seem to be a lower-tiered priority that I can look at next year.

Then, in front of the Yews, the plan calls for the use of a series of Lenten Roses and Hadspen Hostas.  And some planting of ferns and hostas around the trees in the back - which I've gotten started already as mentioned above.

For shopping purposes, here's the key (priority) items on the list:

1 Chicago Lustre Arrowwood Viburnum
1 Salix Capre Pussy Willow
10 Lenten Rose
6 Hadspen Hostas for in front of the Yews
8 Ostrich Ferns
1 columnar tree (that tolerates shade)
Potentially transplanting some additional Ostrich Ferns

Not on the list:  3 Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas

The overall plan calls for 10 Viburnum around the backyard.  Minus one for the Pussy Willow replacement means 9 overall.  There is one in this part and two more on the 'bridge' priority section - for a total of three Viburnum this season.

Similarly, this section calls for six (6) Hadspen Hostas.  The 'bridge' section calls for nine + three Guacamole Hostas.  15 total Hadspen.  3 Guacamole.  Seems that once I come across a good deal on Hadspen Hostas, I'm going to be filling up my cart this Spring/Summer.

That is the last 'priority area' in terms of planting full sections of the plan.  I do have a few more 'priority areas' that I want to consider, but they're further down the list here.

#4 would be adding a tree by the side gate - behind the 2nd largest Oak
#5 would be figuring out the 'walkway'/entrance to the backyard on the north side
#6 would be adding some front yard tree(s)
#7 would be a Belgian Fence - either on the south side of our house or as part of 'Priority Area #2'
#8 would be to remove the turf between the Linden Espalier and the bed outside the kitchen windows and add some 'steppers' in there

Look at me:  doing exactly what I set out not to do:  not having any focus.

I hope I have the fortitude on the day that I pull into the garden center's parking lot to pull up these three posts and remind myself:  Focus, Jake.  Focus.


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