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Bonnie Spann - Plant Sale Committee

HARDSCAPE, by definition, is the non-living or man-made fixtures of a planned outdoor area. Obvious examples are stone walls, brick or concrete patios, and wood decks. However, anything that is not SOFTSCAPE (plants) such as fountains, sculpture, lighting and arbors are also considered hardscape elements.

Ideally, the hardscape installation precedes the planting process as these fences, structures, etc. help shape the overall de-sign, forming a permanent framework for the more ephemeral planting. Every site as its own particular challenges and the solution addressing both functionality and beauty create the atmosphere one desires.

In our particular case, the initial plan included the driveway, front entrance walkway and a large wooden deck with three different access points from the house. Over the course of 36 years, we dramatically enhanced the basic plan while addressing three major issues: drainage, need for lower maintenance and a sloping site. Aesthetically our style is modern and our choice of hardscape materials has continuity both with the house and the entire yard including natural periphery.

Because our lot has a steep drop off at the site of the garage, fill dirt had been brought in to allow for the drive and turn area. The driveway was reinforced with a RR tie retaining wall and highway granite. At one point, a day lily bed was tried but the soil was poor and the bed was not in the sprinkler system. It was replaced with gravel and a metal sculpture, which lessened the amount of weeding and added dramatic impact.

The remainder of this fill dirt slope received a different solution. An aggregate ramp was added for the lawn mower's access to the back yard. On either side of the ramp, shallow steps were built using rusted steel for the risers with loose pea gravel on one side and paved aggregate on the other. Taking advantage of the irregular shape of the slope, the aggregate set of steps flared out in a fan shape with areas for two planting beds.

The larger of the two beds is quadrilateral In shape and is one level down. Rich soil replaced the clay fill and careful thought went into the selection of the plant material. The black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii Goldstrum) was the ideal choice. It is perennial, long lasting (flowers from midsummer to fall), takes full sun, is drought tolerant once established, doesn't need regular feeding and is not troubled by disease or pests. One last bonus is that is does not need dividing regularly. Dig the in the spring of fall when needed and share plants with Birdsong's Old-Timey Plant Sale. In the winter, the dark green foliage provides a sea of green in which our three stainless steel fish "swim".

(Ed. Note: Many people think of native plants in the context of wild-flower meadows or woodland gardens, where everything is loose, free, and slightly out of control. But many native plants do very well in a more controlled landscape, like the rudbeckia and oakleaf hydrangea in the garden described here. Plants from this very garden will be for sale at Birdsong's Old-Timey Plant Sale Saturday, March 21, 2020. - June White, Plant Sale Chair)

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Listed below are several of the "Old Timey Plant" articles. We will be adding to the list so please check back here again!