Just outside our back door was a muddy area with no plants. I covered it with leaves for the winter.
The soil there was compacted and held water so I knew I have some work to do.
Loosening the old soil, I added expanded shale, and acidified compost as preparation for a hydrangea.
The new planting has impatiens, holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum), a dwarf pittosporum (P. tobira 'Wheeler's Dwarf), Mahonia fortunii, Hosta 'Summer Music,' lamium (L. maculatum 'Beacon Silver'), one little painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum)...
... and a lovely silver blue variegated hydrangea (H. macrophylla 'Mariesii Variegata')!
There are many iris rhizomes that I inherited with this house. They are in every area that one could consider a flower bed. I love iris and I happily anticipated what might bloom from this seemingly large collection — perhaps another wonderful gift from the previous gardener?
The first group bloomed in the backyard. White. Not my favorite color, but certainly pretty especially with ivy as a backdrop.
I began to worry that they might all be white. Or not bloom at all!
Then another backyard group budded. Surely, they'll be a different color, I thought, since they have a different bloom time. Nope. More white.
Apparently over time, if an iris bed is not maintained, the stronger white flowers can dominate and choke out other colors. From my understanding, it has been many years since my landlord's gardening mother lived in the house so the white clumps seem to have taken over. Or perhaps she loved white... ?
A big group bloomed a little later in a front yard bed. Arg! More white!
Finally a large separate group in the front yard long border bloomed — yellow!
Two more, which I neglected to photograph, bloomed purple in the backyard. This fall I'm going to move them to a sunnier spot in hopes that they will become more vigorous. Some of the whites might get moved to my mother's garden.
I'm happy to report that my star jasmine a.k.a. Madison or Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is alive and well. Planted late last fall, this little one gallon plant was hard hit by severe winter temperatures. I spotted these badly damaged vines all over town and was afraid mine had croaked.
Holding out hope, I cut everything back to a little stump and applied root stimulator. It was very exciting to see tiny green leaves breaking from the stump.
Two windows of our house look out to this narrow and mostly empty section of the back yard so I'm slowly working on making it a little more interesting. Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica), another affordable one gallon planted last fall also looked doubtful after the winter freezes, but recovered quickly and is now thriving.