Cotoneaster

Pretty much the only thing I’m happy with in my yard is the hedge along the street. It’s a plant called Cotoneaster (Blankmispel in Norwegian), or more specifically¬†Cotoneaster lucidus.

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You can just see the tiny pink flowerlets that are blooming right now. In the fall it turns spectacular colors, and it has a funky, spikey shape that I enjoy. It’s definitely staying.

There are one or two cotoneaster plants in the existing hedge that aren’t doing so well, so I’d like to replace them. I’d also like to wrap the hedge continuously around the corner so that it shields my yard more from the path up to the front door. You can see what that corner looks like currently in this photo, taken from my kitchen window on the second floor:

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The plant currently in the corner is some kind of very strange rose variety that has almost no blooms, blocks my neighbor’s view from her kitchen window, is extremely difficult to trim, and is basically invasive (it’s starting to expand into the cotoneaster hedge, and seems to be killing it off). It’s actually much larger than it looks in this picture — well over 2 meters tall. The idea would be to take out the rose and replant the corner with more cotoneaster plants all the way to the gravel walkway and then along the walk for a few meters, maybe up to where the small shrub is in the picture.

That small shrub is a jasmine, which I like, except that it’s awkwardly placed and basically in the way. I was thinking that if the cotoneaster hedge were to end there, then the jasmine could just stay where it is, kind of marking the “entrance” to my yard. Perhaps a small, low storage unit could be tucked into that corner? Something like this (from the Bike Shed Company):

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You can also just glimpse a stump (which would probably have to be removed) between the rose and the jasmine, as well as a round manhole cover. There have been major problems with the water line that runs parallel with the hedge through my entire yard. This actually poses a really big challenge for gardening, since I probably should keep that corridor of the yard totally free from plants and structures.

Phase Two

My son and I are essentially completely settled into the apartment now, and it no longer feels new and strange; instead, it just feels like home (though we do still occasionally congratulate ourselves on living in such a nice apartment).

Things do feel a little bit empty, though, in the sense that I miss having such a huge and absorbing project to focus on. I felt like the renovation pushed my creative and aesthetic abilities quite a bit, and that was very satisfying. I spent the past weekend thinking about what to do next, and there are two obvious areas I could focus on. One is rebuilding and then kitting out my balcony, and the other is dealing with the small yard that comes with the apartment.

The balcony will have to wait, as that would be a major construction job and cost quite a bit. I’m just going to let it continue to rot until I can save up enough to do it properly. Neighbors across the street have plans to build a huge addition with big windows that face onto my balcony, and that may affect how I chose to reconfigure it. A balcony renovation will also entail a bunch of interaction with my, er, challenging downstairs neighbor (since I would need to get approval for any rebuild, and it would affect the patio area below significantly), which I’m just not up to facing yet, after all the strife from the renovation.

That leaves me with the yard, which I fully admit is a fiasco right now. It wraps around one corner of the fourplex I live in. It is thankfully almost entirely surrounded by hedges. This is especially useful right now since it is just a huge mess of waist-high weeds (I kid you not; see photographic evidence below!).

You can see most of the quadrant of the lot that I’m responsible for in the photo below; my yard includes the area up to the front door. The open window to the left is my neigbhor’s bedroom window, and the large window to the left of the front door is my neighbor’s kitchen window. See the weeds? I did weed whack most of them yesterday, and will be hiring someone to take care of the rest later this week, but still. They’re awful:

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I spend as little time as possible in the yard because it has no privacy whatsoever from my neighbor, since her windows command a panopticon-like view of the entire area. This is sad, because I grew up in a family of avid gardeners, and I have always wanted to reconnect with that.

This weekend I spent hours and hours perusing gardening websites and Pinterest boards, looking for inspiration for what I can do with my yard. I’m particularly interested in figuring out ways to use hardscaping and plants to create some privacy, so that there are areas in the yard I can putter in without feeling like my neighbor is watching my every move. It’s a pretty big challenge, given the layout of the yard and the position of the windows. I may need to consult with a garden planner or landscape architect in order to work out an optimal plan.

I’d really like it to be a “working” garden as well, with fruit trees and berry bushes and raised beds. I’d like secure storage for bikes and yard tools, and I’d like and outdoor eating and lounging space that is blocked from view. And of course I want to cut down on difficult maintenance issues and increase the aesthetic appeal of the space. Too much to ask? Stay tuned! I won’t be doing anything until next spring, but I think I’ll use this blog for planning throughout the year to come.

Here are some more shots. From here it can only get better, right?

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(from the path leading to the front door, looking toward the  fourplex to the south)

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(from the front steps, showing the hedge separating the yard from the street and the adjacent garages)

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(from my south-facing living room window, looking down on the wild hedges that separate my yard from the neighbors to the south and from my downstairs neighbor’s yard to the west)

Wish me luck!

 

 

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