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Natural Landscaping, Part 3

By Brenda Peters

My natural landscaping project came to a screeching halt as we experienced the hottest July on record, and August was a close second. When I was young, I could work through those kinds of days, but not anymore. I have managed to mow the grass and keep the weeds in the flowerbeds at bay, but not much else. Then, like a light switch, our weather changed from desert conditions to that of a monsoon season. For weeks, I could see the water standing in my yard from my window. Now that the waters have receded and the temperatures are cooler, I have gone back to removing saplings from the woods edge around the house.

I have completed clearing the saplings from one side of our front yard and driveway to the clear-cut that was done by our neighbors several years ago. I have left a mixture of oaks, pines, tulip poplar, holly, sassafras, wax myrtle, blueberry and wild azalea. In order to bring the woods edge closer in the front yard to reduce the amount of lawn, I will be planting arrowwood viburnum. It is an upright, rounded, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub which typically matures to 6-10 feet tall with a similar spread. It flowers in late spring and then produces berries in late summer and fall that are enjoyed by birds and other wildlife.

I will be delaying removing the ornamental shrubs and plants in my flowerbeds until the middle of October. I have had monarch caterpillars munching on my butterfly weed and milkweed plants over the last month. After they get their fill, they crawl to nearby shrubs and plants to enter their chrysalis stage before becoming the beautiful butterflies we know and love. To give them every fighting chance, I will keep their habitat undisturbed.

I have decided to replace the hydrangeas with beautyberry shrubs. I have several volunteers in pots that I have been tending over the summer. The ones I planted on the other side of my house have been beautiful this year. I will be replacing the hostas with ferns. There are several different species growing in the woods edge, and I will transplant some of them after I have made room.

I am looking forward to sharing my progress over the fall months in my next column and hope the winter cold doesn’t come too soon.