Niches and a New Border

One of the tenets of permaculture is fill every niche. Another is work with, not against, nature.

The far east border in the front yard is shaded by the neighbor’s oaks until midday in the summer, then receives the brunt of the late afternoon sun. When we moved in the border was full of daylilies that barely bloomed. We dug up and gave away most of the daylilies months ago and planted three flatwoods plums to start a new border.

Lower right hand corner in the garden plan

For months I debated choices for this area. What to plant next? The original plan was to plant avocado trees but the longer I observed the area, the more I was sure that there wasn’t enough sun for the avocados to produce, and not enough protection from cold wind. I was so focused on fruit trees that I was only trying to figure out which fruit tree was best for these conditions… when the answer is to not plant fruit trees here at all.

Once I started thinking outside of that “fruit tree” box, the answer was clear- a dense shrub guild using the background of flatwoods plum. The edges of the yard are basically my zone 4 & 5. I want these areas to provide some food for me and some food for wildlife, be beautiful, and also provide nesting areas. A dense shrub border for partial shade is much easier and I think more working with, not against, nature than trying to get fruit trees to produce here. I’ve already added mophead hydrangea, simpson’s stopper, scarlet milkweed, beautyberry, and elderberry.

I want to add pawpaws after reading this, roselle hibiscus, and more elderberries.  I would love more suggestions for this area!

I really do need to start an actual accurately-measured plan for the whole garden on the computer one of these days, but I’m starting with an actual garden journal where I record when each new addition is planted, when plants flower & set fruit, critter sightings, all of the minutiae that will bring a deeper understanding of the land.

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