We got a new shrub!  It is the first element for the alley renovation.  Hopefully it will grow nice and big and be a screen for the garbage can.  It is a Little Lamb hydrangea.

I should have taken a close-up, but wanted to give the feeling of the alley overall and its progress.  Shrub is up by the garbage can.

I should have taken a close-up, but wanted to give the feeling of the alley overall and its progress. Shrub is up by the garbage can.

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I am researching a shrub to plant in the alley that would screen the garbage can.  Last year we had someone report us to the city for having a sink sit out next to the garbage can.  We worked backwards and figured they would have had to call it in after one day. So anyway, a screen has been the back of my mind for a while.  I think if we hadn’t been on a corner lot, that wouldn’t have happened.

So I went through the book Landscaping with Native Plants of Minnesota for ideas (shrub chapter).  Then, I made a list of all the native shrubs that will tolerate dry conditions and part shade.  Berries or some kind of wildlife benefit is a plus, as well as a proper size.  More than 10 feet tall sounds a little big for where it’s at.  6-8 is better.

That list produced:

  • Common elder
  • Bladdernut
  • Snowberry
  • Highbush Cranberry
  • Nannyberry
  • Canada Yew
  • Wild Grape (a vine, yes, but would screen effectively if we build a support)

Then I went online to see where I might actually be able to buy some of these.  I found this KICK-ASS plant finder at Halla Nursery out of Chanhassen.  That one turned up a few new ideas and made me think twice about some of the ones on the initial list, like Canada Yew (says it’s high maintenance).  Then what’s nice is that they have their little description with a lot better layout than the book – i.e. they use little symbols!  I love little symbols!  But, I do take a nursery’s advice kind of with a grain of salt.  I mean, I am not saying they are liars, but if I read in a book that a certain plant will do well only in shade and then I read from a nursery (whose goal is to sell stuff) that it will do well in all kinds of light, I am skeptical.

Now I have narrowed/morphed the list to (in no order)

  • Isanti Dogwood (Woo!  Isanti!  What are the chances?)
  • Highbush Cranberry (would need to pick the right cultivar)
  • Snowberry
  • Bush Honeysuckle
  • Summersweet (tolerates environmental salt – good on an alley when everyone’s sidewalk salt will wash past in spring)

Still need to investigate where to buy or if they would be good to use:

  • Nannyberry
  • Bladdernut
  • Common elder

The tomatoes are ripening, thank God!  It’s only been three weeks since they formed!

The site of our future mini raingarden

The site of our future mini raingarden

I have been thinking raingarden.  My last post was about ideas for where to put one.  Well, today I got a call in to Gopher State One Call to mark the utilities in the little triangle at the corner of our lot.  We are going to try a mini one there.  That way I can learn about how to do the infiltration test, etc. and do the whole thing on a mini scale before proposing a big fat huge grant project to the watershed district.  It will be a trial.

The space between the fence and the retaining wall will become a perennial garden

The space between the fence and the retaining wall will become a perennial garden

We got our fence!!!!  Yipppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  Now we get to think of what to plant in the annoying section between the retaining wall and the fence.  We knew we wanted the fence higher up on the yard because of the dog’s unpredictability.  We didn’t want some small hand to become lunch.  But now it creates a planting opportunity.  At first I thought shrubs, now am thinking perennial garden because of staining issues.  That way when we need to stain the fence we can get at it in the spring before things start to grow or even tramp it down in the fall when all is done.  With shrubs, we won’t be able to get in there.  But I do want to incorporate some shrubs somewhere, especially berries for birdies to munch on and maybe for us to munch.