Fool’s gold

Yesterday, an hour was spent pruning the vigorous Winter jasmine that borders the koi pond. I cannot recall why this was planted in such proximity to the waterfall, which it frequently grows to obscure, but often this seems to have been a mistake. Branches of yellow blooms cascading into the water seems such a grand idea, but as I teetered precariously on damp stones at the pond’s edge, the error was confirmed, and more than once and again on this day I considered how to extricate the jasmine which has become hopelessly rooted between stones.

Winter jasmine and paperbush (Edgeworthia) cascade over the pond’s edge. Irises and sweetflag (Acorus) are planted between boulders that line the pond.

The conclusion, again, was that this is a near impossibility without resorting to herbicides that would almost certainly contaminate the pond. So, it appears that my just reward is to suffer this chore until the day the garden is turned over to some unfortunate soul who believes they are able to manage maintenance of this acre and a quarter plot. Good luck.

Trees and shrubs cover much of the garden, with gems such as this purple leafed sedum planted between hydrangea and spirea to cover the ground for ornament, and to minimize weed growth.

How is it possible that a gardener can claim to enjoy maintenance, and particularly weeding? Certainly, I do not, and this brings to mind the fool’s gold that is the low maintenance garden. Perhaps there is some such sterile environment that is not only gravel and concrete that can still be considered a garden, but the best that I can imagine is to attempt to minimize labor in this garden.

Sun King aralia, Winter daphne and a variegated hosta fill this shaded area.

Perhaps, progress has been made as the garden matures into its twenty-eighth year, but the balance also shifts as my enthusiasm for labor wanes. By this age I should, of course, be working smarter and not harder, but it appears such thinking is beyond my capabilities, though I’ve taken a stab or two at the target.

Camellia, Cinnamon fern, barrenwort, Peacock moss and a hellebore seedling fill this spot beside a stone path.

Photos of snippets of the garden deceive the viewer to believe that most parts of the garden are covered, and how could a weed possibly make its way through such dense planting? A neighbor claims he never sees a weed, and probably from across the street that is correct, but from this vantage there remain too many spaces that are open and prime for weed growth.

Toad lily (Tricyrtis) and Angelina sedum spill over between stones and gravel.

In recent years, I’ve planted to fill edges between the lawn and garden, and if a sufficient budget was allocated all at once this could resolve much of the weeding problem. But, the garden winds for a considerable distance, and I hold out to try a bit of this and that as plants catch my eye. I’ll keep at it.  Perhaps, someday the edges will be covered, and the worst of weeding and maintenance will be eliminated. Probably, just in time for somebody else to take over the garden.

Carex and hosta cover the ground beside the driveway with a purple leafed violet filling any uncovered space.

Liriope fills the space beneath Dorothy Wycoff pieris.

Hellebores spread to cover ground up to this gravel path.

Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) spreads slowly to fill spaces beside hosta and seedlings of Wood poppy in this area of dry shade.

This dense clump of ‘Samurai’ toad lily prevents all but the most determined weeds.

Japanese Forest grass slowly spreads to cover this partially shaded spot beside a stone path.

Sweetbox spreads slowly, but its evergreen foliage eases maintenance.

Coneflower, carex, toad lily and violets planted along the edge of the driveway.

A low growing sedum borders this stone patio.