When my back yard was cut in half (see post about it here) and the amount of space I had to garden was therefore reduced, I turned to the side yard to expand upon my garden. I had a couple of bushes and some leftover daylilies there, but it was just a means to travel from the front to the back.
Last year, however, I dug out a small bed on the side in the hopes of starting to realize my vision of a curved bed where you can't quite see around the corner, and then eventually and suddenly, you're in the back yard and a whole new "room". I even have an entire Pinterest board named "Jardin - Paths" (see how I Frenchified the name?) to inspire me.
|Summer of 2012|
As you can see in the photo above, I only dug out about 2 feet. It was enough to put my free Eastern redbud tree and the new plugs I had bought with some neighbors. It's difficult to tell in the photo but there's quite a downhill slope. It's very, very gradual at the beginning (lower right corner) but gets significantly steeper at the end (toward my neighbor's car). I was concerned about water runoff and wasn't sure if this would be a runny, muddy mess. The slope also poses a challenge because the pathway has to be pretty narrow, unless I send visitors meandering on the hill.
Luckily, last summer showed that the new garden bed wasn't a mess but it clearly needed to be expanded.
|Back to front: You can see me using the hose to outline where to dig|
|Front to back|
And so I worked on it, little by little, foot by foot, starting this summer. The process was very slow due in part because I insisted on hand digging everything (like an ass) and there was also minimal room in which to throw away my sod piles. I kept imagining that the garbage men were going to turn away my garbage cans for being too heavy!
|Early summer 2013. Slow.|
|Mid-summer 2013. Still slow.|
It was roughly around the time that the photo above was taken that it came to me - what to call this garden! See, after reading this great post by Laurrie, I'd been pondering what to name my gardens. I mean, Front, Back, and Side Yard are all super creative and memorable names but I felt like there was a little something missing. Well, on my hands and knees digging out sod I noticed the incredible number of bees on the flowers, particularly the St. John's Wort and the Nepeta siberica. In French, bee is "abeille". And though an allée is often, in the gardening world, a straight path with tall trees on either side, it also means "pathway" or "walk". Abeille allée just came together perfectly and with little thought - it had to be the new name for Side Yard.
The project was abandoned during the high humidity days of July and the frenetic busy-ness of August. Luckily, last month Neighbor M brought home a small rototiller. Realizing it would take me until 2017 to complete this project by hand, I went to town digging out the rest of the grass. It took me all of 30 minutes, and that includes the 6 times I had to restart the machine. With all of that new space, I then went on a shopping spree at my local garden store - they finally put their buy one, get one sign up AND they had a whole table of $3 plants that looked sorry but just needed some TLC.
|Hooray for autumn sales!|
|Pre-planting spree. The path is (mostly) complete.|
Finally, when J and I went to visit my parents in New England a couple of weeks ago, my mom and I took a little trip to the very helpful Cranesbill Nursery, where they helped me pick out three different shrubs that would not grow too wide (a problem in a narrow garden). I also came home with another peony and a bunch of divisions from my mother's garden. Within twenty minutes of getting home from that trip I was planting everything in the ground. Who needs to unpack luggage? I have bushes to save!
|Back to front: The new bushes and plants are in the ground.|
|Front to back.|
The curve of the path is not at all as dramatic as I'd hoped, but I'm pretty limited by the slope of the hill in places. I still need to define the path's edges and then lay out some stones or add some pavers, but that will have to wait until after marathon season is over. I'd also like to finally replace the old, rotted arbor that we took out in 2009-ish to define the entrance to the Allée at the front, but that too will have to wait until J feels like helping me install some concrete post supports.
I have hope that by this time next year, some of the plants will be overflowing on to the path and the bushes will be a lot taller, making it more of an "oooh what's around that curve?!" situation.
(I do intend to make a separate post about all of my new plants, if for nothing else than so I can remember what I have and where!)