11 gardening projects for 2011: projects 6-11

The first five of my planned gardening projects for 2011 are described in yesterday’s post. Here are the remaining six.

6. Install a Japanese water basin in woodland garden

Water is as essential feature of a Japanese garden. Our diminutive woodland area is much too small for an in-ground water feature, but I’d love to set up a small Japanese basin. Water would flow into it from a bamboo spout and out into a reservoir buried underneath. The biggest problem is that we don’t have electricity in that part of the yard so we can’t use a regular electrical pump. The obvious solution is to use a solar pump, but since this area is in the shade most of the day, I’d have to set up the solar panel quite a distance away.

We already have a rock with a small hollow on top that would work (see photo below). The other alternative is to buy a granite basin like these, but these don’t come cheap. Unless I can find an irresistible deal on a “real” basin, I’m going to repurpose what we already have. My goal isn’t to create an authentic Japanese garden, just to incorporate elements that work for our situation.

This rock would be turned into a water basin

7. Find a better hose storage solution

I hate garden hoses. I’ve bought cheap ones and expensive ones, and before long they all get kinked and twisted. Storing garden hoses is another issue. Hose reels and carts are cheap and do work, but they are an eye sore. I’ve looked at hose pots but haven’t found one that isn’t overly cutesy or ornate. My wife suggested simply using a glazed pot, setting it on two bricks spaced a few inches apart, and routing the hose through the drain hole in the bottom (enlarged if necessary). Sounds like a good idea to me.

Ugly hose cart in woodland garden

8. Minimize the clutter in the yard

I’m sick and tired of seeing empty flower pots, buckets and bags of potting soil scattered about the back yard. I’m the main culprit here, and I’m putting myself on notice. I hereby vow to minimize clutter in the yard by keeping all the supplies in one place, tucked away in a far corner of the yard or better yet, in a storage bench or box yet to be designed and built.


9. Plant a terrarium with carnivorous plants

This was inspired by a wonderful book I got for Christmas, Bizarre Botanicals by Larry Mellichamp and Paul Gross (Timber Press, 2010). Many different carnivorous plants are commercially available, and creating a carnivorous garden inside a glass terrarium sounds like a neat idea. This terrarium would be kept outside in the warm months, probably on a low table on the front porch where we would be able to enjoy it up close.

This project requires more research, but I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait to feed the Venus flytrap!

10. Visit the Portland Japanese Garden in the fall

This isn’t a gardening project per se, but it would provide gardening inspiration. I had the opportunity to visit the Portland Japanese Garden this past July and fell in love with its serenity and sense of spirituality. While beautiful even in the dog days of summer, the Portland Japanese Garden is supposed to be at its most striking in the fall when the many deciduous trees and shrubs are ablaze with color. Since we have friends in Portland—and flying from Sacramento is easy and quick—this trip will happen.

Portland Japanese Garden this summer

11. Read more gardening blogs

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of outstanding gardening blogs. They are fantastic sources of practical information and, just as importantly, inspiration. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day, and most of us have many demands on our time. Even so, I plan on expanding the roster of blogs I follow. In particular, I’m interested in blogs that describe how to build things for the garden because that’s the one area in which I feel totally incompetent. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!


  1. Excellent todo list... I am right there with you on the garden hose predicament. I'm also resolved to find an irrigation system that doesn't crap out on me in only one season's worth of usage. So far I end up replacing the awful things every single year.

    Thanks for participating in this month's How to Find Great Plants, too. Your post has been featured in this month's issue. :)

  2. Eliza, thank you so much for adding my post about deer grass to "How to Find Great Plants" on your site. Here is the link for everybody else: http://www.appalachianfeet.com/2011/01/03/how-to-find-great-plants-2/.

    Lots of good suggestions there, my favorite being the post about winter herbs by the Queen of Seaford.

    Thank you for compiling this wonderful list!

  3. Eliza, forgot to add that I have similar issues with our drip system. I constantly replace emitter heads. Often I'm the culprit because I step on them and break them, but others simply crap out on their own. The fact that we have hard water doesn't help.

  4. Project 11 should be easy peasy :)

    Good luck with Project 7, that's something I find tricky myself and still figuring out. At the moment we're just using those standard hose reel things which isn't always easy to use.

    Project 9 will be fun! There are carnivorous plants that are very hardy though, even here, especially Sarracenias, so you can even have a bed of it left permanently outside. They're very efficient at catching flies in the summer :)

  5. Project 7: I do it the hard way and bring the hose into the garage when I'm done with it. At least it's out of sight with no tacky storage container.

    Project 8: good luck with that. ;-) Seriously, with a small yard it seems like you might not have any "nooks" to hide stuff, so you may have to build something. Or maybe I'm always looking for another excuse to build something.


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