Saturday, May 25, 2019

Front Rain Garden

We thought it would be interesting to show the progression our front yard rain garden has followed in the last seven years since we installed it.
At the beginning in spring 2012, there was a ditch with tiny plants replacing the flat lawn we inherited. Unfortunately, we didn't keep a good list of the plants we originally planted; they were all Oregon natives. Just from the picture, you can see the Cascara tree, 5 sword ferns, a Red Flowering Currant, a few sedges down in the bottom and there were a few Kinnikinnick. There was a row of Spirea douglasii along the front edge, and then a few more Nootka roses in front of those. (In the early days, Jeff tried weaving together the rose branches into a living fence, but that didn't work well.)
By 2016, you could see things were starting to fill in. (Got out of control?) We had a little vegetable garden between the rain garden and the path.

Another view in 2016. Those plants along the front side got a lot bigger than the plant directories said they would. You can barely see the house through the plants.

Here it is in early spring 2017. Without the leaves, it didn't seem so bad. 
By this point Jeff had dug out the wild roses because they were spreading out of control. The Spirea douglasii was still really tall. Many plant directories say Spirea douglasii grows up to 7 feet. Don't believe them. You can clearly see they're taller than the first story of our house. Maybe they were growing taller to try and find sun, but it won't work. Once we figured out we could prune them mercilessly, Jeff did that. He cut them down to about two feet.
At some point, we got a volunteer birch tree in there. It had gotten really tall and Sharon asked Jeff if he would remove it but he really liked it and wanted to leave it. But about a month ago, when we had a week of unseasonably hot weather, and it did this—which spelled its demise.
When Aaron was here earlier this week, he and Jeff worked to clear out the tallest shrubs. The rain garden is looking a little rough right now, but it's on the road to recovery.
The big hole is from the elderberry root ball they removed
It's definitely starting to look less overgrown.
Now that we have easier access, Jeff was able to weed the interior, and prune the Currant. Now we need to see if we can find any shade-loving plants to replace those that died. And we need to find a couple shrubs that are MUCH shorter, maybe a maximum of four feet. We're thinking about a ninebark, which can also be pruned to the ground if it gets too big.
Update a few days later: We bought a Summer Wine Ninebark for the space. We love the burgundy color. This should fill in nicely over the next couple of years.

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