What’s with that big pile of dirt? and other garden happenings


I am having such a good time in the garden right now. And by right now I mean the past few weeks. My annual Valentine’s Day cut-back of the garden spruced things up and revealed the structure of the garden again, just before spring revs up lush growth. This ‘Queen Victoria’ agave sits below the big ‘Whale’s Tongue’ in the back garden’s raised bed, dapper with white pinstripes along olive-green leaves. That’s a ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda to the left of the sun person.


On the other side of the garden I stopped to admire the Koosh-ball form of the Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Skies’. The big slab of limestone is the Lion King rock, for those who remember the name my daughter bestowed upon it when we moved in.


Out front, the young ‘Warren’s Red’ possumhaw holly, a native deciduous holly, is studded with crimson berries. It’s caged to prevent deer from rubbing their antlers on it or sampling the young branches.


I noticed a mockingbird gorging on the berries yesterday morning. Soon they’ll be gone, but that’s OK. New leaves will appear any day, now that spring is here.


Bigger changes are afoot in the front garden. You may remember that I had nearly all the remaining lawn removed a few weeks ago, and check this out! My darling, adorable family toiled for a couple of hours last weekend to help me move 6 yards of composted soil into the new beds. They were even smiling!


Did I mention that I bribed the young’uns with a boost to their allowance? Yes, I did. It worked too.


Everyone should have a couple of teenagers and a hubby lying around for the purpose of moving dirt.

I’ve been planting all week, whenever I can spare an hour or two from my office. So. Much. Fun. Wherever you are, I hope you too will be planting soon—or already are.

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

12 Responses

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Seeing the pictures of your family helping you in the garden took me right down memory lane. This is a beautiful sight. In my garden it is covered with snow this morning. Not much happening here yet. I can’t wait to see your new planting.

  2. My planting juices are flowing, and I have a gift certificate to the wonderful native plant nursery Niche Gardens burning a hole in my pocket, but I must hold off for a week or two. I’m contemplating renovating a semi-successful garden bed into a rain garden but need to do a little research first. It’s a complicated area–it feels like there’s a new microclimate every few feet–and those microclimates may change radically if I take out a mature oak as I’m considering. Hoping the arborist will be able to come on Monday or Tuesday and I will be able to plan effectively. My head is exploding with ideas.

    Have a great weekend in the garden!

  3. Alison says:

    I love the more personal tone to this post. Your happiness is so tangible in the words and pictures! It looks like your family is having fun. I’m so glad for you. I should get out and plant every time a rainless window opens up out there, but the temps are still in the 40s most days. I’m collecting quite a backlog of plants already.

  4. “Everyone should have a couple of teenagers and a hubby lying around for the purpose of moving dirt.” Agreed. Like Lisa, still watching snow fall here, but doing a lot of planting in my head.

  5. Scott Weber says:

    Is there anything sweeter than planting a whole new area…well, having willing helpers certainly makes it better, I guess ;-)

  6. Jenny says:

    So exciting to have a beautiful pile of soil and the opportunity for a new planting. Do you think your teenagers would like to come over here and move 6 yards of granite? No, I didn’t think so.

  7. ricki says:

    OK…that’s it…I’m going out there right now. Wonder if there are any teenagers about that would like to be adopted.

  8. Jason says:

    This reminds me of when we moved to our current house ten years ago. I almost immediately build a large raised bed along the front walk and driveway. I then ordered 3 cubic yards of top soil. I also had my kids shoveling top soil, although I don’t remember them being as good humored as yours seem to be.

  9. Laura says:

    So I have to resort to bribery? Looks like it’s worth it if you can move 6 yards of compost in a few hours.

  10. Heather says:

    So *that’s* why people have kids! I knew I should’ve had some. I can’t wait to see how you transform this space!

  11. Cynthia says:

    I love family days in the yard! Looks like yours was successful and enjoyable – the best kind!

  12. Jan says:

    I just bought a new small farm and cant wait for the snow to go so I can see what is under it all! And how I can let my imagination run wild with all these new ideas on what to plant and where to plant..I cant wait! Come on Spring!!