The Allee: Part I

Who doesn’t love long weekends! And finally a perfect one, sunny and not too hot, perfect working conditions in the garden.

And my garden needed it! The grass has not been cut since August 8th, and that was only the area immediately around the house (just so the neighbours realize that we still live there). Between the weather, and personal commitments the rest of the garden was last cut on July 19th. Yikes! So it took a bit longer then normal. After all, I was spending a lot of time on each spot, first I would have to do a wheelie with the lawnmower, so the blades were high up, and then slowly lower it down over the grass. This did a satisfactory job, but I would really like to be able to cut it on a more regular basis.

At last, I could get to the fun stuff.  I have decided to plant an allee, stretching from the Lime Walk to the Kitchen Garden. I have been mulling over in my mind  for a long time, what kind of tree I should use for the allee. I didn’t want as formal a look as the Lime Walk, but I still love my straight lines.  Something flowering would be nice, and it is a shady area, as there is 6 large maples and ash trees,  whose canopy overhangs it. So it would need to be an early flowerer, who is mostly finished by the time the trees leaf out. I wanted something multistemed, because I want to have a bit of a tunnel effect. I think (and I could be wrong) that this will give me more of a closed in feeling.


So we laid out the beds for it, they are 20 feet long and 6 feet wide (at the moment).  I took the opportunity to empty the three plastic compost bins that were at the house when we purchased it.  Some of the compost was still quite rough, so it went on the bottom and the more finished went on top.  This created quite a hump in the middle, that will break down and settle over the winter. I created it using the “lasagna: method, of laying newspaper and cardboard directly on top of the grass, then my rough compost and then a layer of finished. I topped all this with a layer of bark chips from my tree (that blew down a couple of weeks ago).

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I started by pounding in a post next to each bed of the Kitchen Garden. (Forgive me the pictures, I was working in the middle of the day, so it is very shadowy).

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And then I did the same thing at the Lime Walk. As this is only a secondary path through the Lime Walk, it is only 3 feet wide. The Kitchen Garden path is 5 feet wide. So the path narrows as it approaches the Lime Walk. I hope that when you are standing in the Kitchen Garden, looking east towards the Lime Walk, it will seem even further away, due to the optical illusion of the path narrowing. The easiest way to get this straight is to tie a rope between the posts.

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Once I had my straight lines, I began. Newspaper underneath and bricks to outline.

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It went fairly fast. This is how I have laid out all my beds at Kilbourne Grove.  You can see how much more sun I have in this area now, after losing our huge, old maple.  I hope the hydrangea in the Lime Walk  will be able to cope.

gardenSept09 039

Here we are starting to fill the bed with the rough compost from our bins. You can see in the background a bit of our garden. The yew hedge is directly north of this bed and it is the same length. This allows for a 4 1/2 foot wide path from running south along the Flora Glade.

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Finished the first bed, starting the second. I won’t bore you with any more pictures of this  (especially as the beer didn’t allow me to finish the second), it’s just more of the same. Got the bark mulch on, so no weeds (ha), and I will  plan what to plant here.

By the time the beds settle, it will be spring, and I will be able to plant. I also have approx 12 helleborus in the Kitchen Garden, waiting to be transplanted here.

I stopped the beds at 20 feet, in line with the yew hedge. This gives me a square garden, aprox 25feet, between the allee and the Kitchen Garden, I am not sure if I want something different here, or if I will continue the allee all the way to the Kitchen Garden. So I am leaving it for now, I can always extend it in the spring.

I am thinking of serviceberry  for the allee, but does any one else have any other ideas? Owen Sound is Zone 5B, if that helps.


17 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    teza said,

    Wowza….. what an amazing sized property, I am very green with envy! I love your attention to creating the wonderful beds and pathways….. It will be wonderful as it slowly takes shape.
    Serviceberry was one of my first thoughts as well…. gorgeous flowers in spring and the berries for the wildlife as the season progresses. I am also partial to Dogwood species, especially the Chinese species . Cornus chinensis or kousa both offer wonderful shade tolerant (almost demanding it)….. a few personal favourites are:
    Cornus kousa ‘Venus’ – with magnolia shaped and sized flowers
    Cornus mas ‘variegata’ – wonderful white edged thin leaves
    Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’ – my all time favourite tree with a tiered, wedding cake shape and the same variegatioon as C. mas, but smaller and daintier – to 6-7′ in height.
    ‘Argentea’ is a bit pricey and somewhat hard to find in commerce but oh so worth it in the end….. hoping to add one to the Shaded Walk next Spring. A wonderful post and thanks for the photos – even though they made me terribly jealous!

    • 2

      Teza, I can see that you are going to lead me down the garden path, straight to financial ruin! LOL, Now I want all those as well!
      I hope that I wil be able to find some of these “beauties”, Owen Sound is a bit more traditional in its plantings. If I can’t put them in the allee, the Flora Glade is crying out for them!

  2. 3

    What an amazing amount of work and vision. It’s going to wonderful. I’m sorry that I don’t know your zone but Proven Winners has an advanced search. You can put in your zone and see what works using their cultivars. I love Limelight hydrangea and any of their buddleias. I see that Miss Ruby will grow in your area and I love her—she’s a deep pink bloomer with tons of blooms.

    • 4

      Well, the work is for sure, I don’t know about the vision. I think that I am a shameless copier! I think that I am going to have to make a trip to Proven Winners web site and see what they have. They do sell a lot of plants in Canada. Miss Ruby sounds wonderful (and very lady like).

  3. 5

    Racquel said,

    Like Anna (flowergardengirl) I love my Limelight Hydrangea and it will take more sun than the traditional hydrangeas will. Serviceberry sounds nice or how about Dogwoods?

  4. 6

    Racquel said,

    Oh I meant to say wow! it’s going to be great! 🙂

    • 7

      Thanks Racquel, I hope that it well be. I have plans (many of them) to put a “hedge” of Limelight hydrangea bordering the walk (that I will someday have) to my front door. I do love dogwoods, although I think that they are borderline hardy in Owen Sound. I have planted a cornus kousa as a memorial for my mum, I think that I well see how that does before investing a huge chunk of change for the allee.

  5. 8

    Jenny said,

    I don’t have any suggestions for you I’m afraid, but I just wanted to say how exciting. A new project always gets the juices flowing and every step of the process is great fun. I imagine you are looking for a tunnel type effect so you will have to find trees that can be pruned to do that. Good luck with your research.

    • 9

      Thanks Jenny for your kind comments. I do love new projects, my husband is always complaining that there is so many “new” projects. It usually involves some manual labour for him.
      I am trying to get all of my “bones” in now, before we move up there full time. This way they have 5-10 years to get established. The trees, shrubs and hedges are also less maintenance then perennials. This works out well for a “weekend” home.

  6. 10

    Kat RN said,

    That sounds like a lot of hard work, but it should be worth it. I hope you will post photos of your progress. I am looking for ideas to decrease the amount of mowing that needs doing at my place.

    • 11

      Hi Kat RN, I will definitely post some pictures. I will not be planting until spring as I want to give that rough compost a chance to break down over the winter. I am full of ideas to decrease the amount of mowing, however they all involve lots of new garden beds. I have cut the mowing time from 5 hours to 3 1/2, with the number of beds that I have put in. Lots more to come! Thank you for visiting my blog and hope to see you again.

  7. 12

    Wendy said,

    Wow, you’ve got some projects going!! I’m not sure it’s appropriate, but I have a little spot against the house where I’m going to put up 3 posts and plant 2 dwarf apple trees trained espalier style. I’m not sure how this would work given the sun situation, but maybe something earlier in the season like cherries? I think you can do the same thing – make a living fence from a few dwarf cherry trees… Would it work???

  8. 13

    I would be very interested in your espalier project. I think that it is too shady in this spot, although now that the big maple fell, there is a lot more sun. I am planning on espaliering a quince against the garage, after my husband gets off his butt and paints it. I do like the sound of the living fence, maybe I can work it in somewhere else. Thank you for your great ideas.

  9. 14

    Sue said,

    What a fun project! I am never patient enough for the lasagna method. I am not a tree person, so I can’t help you there. Thanks for your comment on my GBBD post.

  10. 15

    It is a lot easier to be patient with the lasagna method when you don’t have to look at it everyday. I will probably only be at Kilbourne Grove 4 or 5 times more before the snow flies, and a good part of that will be bulb planting and leaf racking.

  11. 16

    Kassie said,

    Just wanted to say, how exciting!! To see it step by step makes it more than a dream; it’s real!! I admire your industriousness!!!
    Keep us all posted…I for one, am living through you on this one!

  12. 17

    Hey Kassie, I know that you like allees, I can’t wait till I plant in the spring. My husband is always complaining that all I do is make more garden beds and plant things, instead of maintaining them. I say, I can always weed tomorrow, but everyday a tree is in, it grows a little bit more.

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