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The Meditation Walk
Challenge: When we bought our home three years ago, one of the nice features was a pine garden (a Meditation Walk, if you will) between the rear patio and garage. Dominated by a tall pine at the corner of the house and a flowering dogwood, the Walk also had other types and styles of pines sprinkled about (including, I believe, an old Christmas tree). A gravel path lined with stones led around the large pine and back to the patio. In full Summer, this was a lovely, peaceful spot.
In Summer 2007, we had the deck and patio completely redone and expanded.
With the new staircase, the terminus of the Meditation Walk no longer made sense.
I bent the path to the right (below), so that it comes to the patio at the high point of the stairs. And, to the right underneath the deck, we are putting in a hot tub, so the path now meets the patio at the only point that makes sense. Forgive the many Hefty bags of yard debris - they'll be picked up in a couple of weeks. A couple of the low-lying bushes to the right (photo above) had to come out.

The photo on the right (above) shows the view from the hot tub's vantage point. For privacy, I thought I'd plant at least two rhododendrons between the path and wall, with two more at other points along the walk for consistency. I believe that rhododendrons get along well with pines, but I'd also like to plant a few perennials along the walk. What perennials can co-exist with pine needles and mostly shade?

Near the patio, I came across (what I think are) some lilies, so I aimed the path around them, rather than try to replant. It seems only natural that this small area would be perfect for a flower garden, perhaps a three-season rock garden, from early Spring through late Summer.

Tulips and lilies for the Spring, perhaps a different kind of lily for June, mix in a few ferns? What would you plant here?

 

Brought home three new rhododendrons and two Aucubas (that I was talked into) for contrast. Still need two taller rhodos along the house wall, but these will be a good start. In theory, the Aucubas can go to 5' tall, 4' wide. And they like shade.
Amazingly, all three rhodos and the two Aucubas fit inside my Mustang hatchback (the ultimate sport utility vehicle). For the 6' rhodos, I'll have to borrow Jean's truck... Also, you can see (right, above) the new hot tub, which is the impetus for this project. The tall rhodos will block the view and provide privacy. Year-round, I hope.
Some store-bought pansies and petunias are a decent start to the rock garden, although very temporary. A little shot of color in a green-and-brown world, while I mull over a more permanent planting.
May 8, 2008 The rhodos are all in, and (surprise, surprise) the ferns - which I'd have sworn I killed off - are back, filling in nicely along the new fence. There are at least two poison ivy plants in the photo below. Click for a larger version and see if you can spot them.
Better view of the new ferns:

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