Step 5: See Step 1.

Having finished the first segment of the rain garden, I turned this past weekend to the second chunk.

First, I strung a new line to mark the soil grade, because this segment of the garden has a different slope than the first. Also, this new segment abuts a small patio made of bricks we recycled when we took down a masonry chimney two years ago, and that edge has to be worked into the design with some thought.

I dug up the existing plants, which will probably not thank me this year because they’re just about to emerge from dormancy. I am really getting it under the wire here.

earth laid bare

Here’s the carnage.

plant carnage

One challenge I met in this new segment was the Baptisia australis I planted some years ago. It gets less sun than it would like, but it flowers well enough, and I love Baptisia’s form. I have several of them scattered throughout the garden, and the one in question was planted just a few feet from the patio’s edge.

Baptisias develop very long, thick taproots and absolutely do not like to be disturbed. I had hoped to be able to work around this plant, much as I had done with the tree roots. But it was simply not going to be possible. So I held my breath and plunged in the spade.


baptisia roots

Those roots truly are massive compared to its typical above-ground growth and digging it out was not an easy task. Immediately afterward, I felt an irrational sense of guilt at what I’d done. I confess to being a sentimental person (guess who can’t bear to thin carrot seedlings?) but this sensation was inexcusable. Time to move on.

I added back the manure-grit mixture with a layer of native soil, and then it was time to plant.

rain garden second planting

I added back in rue, a yellow daylily, three dwarf foxgloves, Stokesia laevis ‘Peachie’s Pick,’ a volunteer Aquilegia, a green Rudbeckia that I grew from seed but has never bloomed (too much shade; maybe it will do better here), Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon,’ and a heavy smattering of crocus, daffodils, scilla, and grape hyacinths. And, of course, Ajuga.

segment 3 replanted

The nursery pots in the midground of the photo are there as placeholders for some plants I hope will succeed from my winter sowing project. Otherwise, I’d absolutely forget to leave space for them and would have to rearrange the furniture yet again in six weeks’ time.



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