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The New Gardens

The only part of the Smug Creek property that had been 'gardened' when we moved here in 2005 was the gently sloping open space to the south of the house. This was a grassy area, not quite wonderful enough to be described as a lawn, with one mature island bed off center containing a hydrangea, some daffodils and some purple bearded iris.

The problem was very, very poor drainage and this is why it has been the last area around the house to be developed. The grass area was almost a bog. There was about two inches of clay soil on top of a layer of dark gray clay that refused to drain because it covered a layer of impenetrable slate. Even in late summer the area was sodden.

We bit the bullet and paid a professional company a huge amount of dollars to lay drains. This has helped but we still haven't got what we wanted or what was promised. The area is still very wet. Raised beds were therefore the obvious and only answer. During the last two summers we have created four new raised beds and augmented the original one. We have lost count of the barrow loads of topsoil that have been pushed across the deck and up the slope.

At the same time we removed several large trees from around the perimeter woods to give us more direct sunshine. These beds have been planted with a variety of sun-loving perennials and shrubs including daylilies, irises and hydrangeas together with more hostas, bulbs and spring ephemerals in the shadier places.