Blue Castle Garden: Year 11

In 2015, the garden experienced many small but encouraging wins. Construction work carried on with the addition of a short retaining wall. With the help of bark mulch, the weed infestation was finally overcome.

Certain plants came into their own with a beautiful display of color including iris, exotic tulips and a vine that remained plain until mature. The broken Fernleaf Caragana tree was replaced with a superior specimen.


Built Streambed Retaining Wall

The newly planted Sutherland Caragana trees suffered when the clay soil became waterlogged from spring melt and downspout water. This hot, normally dry area required drought tolerant trees. A small retaining wall was added along the fence to raise the soil elevation, keeping the roots dry and the trees from drowning. 

Digging out the holes for the new retaining wall posts.

Angling the retaining wall ends and trimming the posts.

Completed retaining wall before backfilling and planting. 

Several years later it was hidden by the mature plants.

Added Mulch to Flower Beds

To keep weeds down, a coarse, dark brown mulch was laid over the beds in a 2 inch (5 cm) thick layer. Purchasing and hauling it from a local bulk landscaping center reduced the expense.

A good wheelbarrow made the job easier.

Found a Trellis for the Pocket Garden

To add a touch of art to the small pocket garden, a trellis was attached to the fence. A clematis planted later bloomed surprisingly well with only limited morning light.

A couple of the trellis styles tested. 

Circles were cool, but too modern. The trellis on the right suited the garden’s style best.

Purchased Pergola Patio Furniture

With a table and chair set already on the patio, I opted for lounge chairs in the pergola area. In the evening it’s a cool, shady retreat.

The lounge chairs were inviting in the still unfinished pergola area.

Added New Trellis Panels

To break up the monotony, new trellis panels were added to the back yard fence. These supported future vines and created an interesting backdrop to the iris. 

New trellis panels (left) and Bewilderbeast Iris (right).

Flowering iris from left to right: Copatonic, Ink Patterns, Bewilderbeast and Rustler. 

Tested Unique Tulips

Going beyond basic tulips, I tested exotic fringed and double petalled varieties. I still grow some of my favorites.  

Bell Song Tulips (left) and Ice Cream Tulip (right).

Davenport Tulips.

Enjoyed a Beautiful Iris Display

The wide range of iris colors and combinations are as unique as their names. For example, the beautiful iris featured at the top of this post is called Purple Serenade. 

Iris flowers glowing in the evening sun. 

Dodger Blue Iris.

Excuse Me Darling Iris.

Sea Power Iris (left) and a beautiful, unnamed iris from a prior year (right). 

Louisa’s Song Iris.

Made of Magic Iris.

Replaced Broken Fernleaf Caragana Tree

Loving the lacy, airy look of Fernleaf Caraganas, I replaced the former tree broken during ‘Snowtember’ with a better specimen.

A rather sad looking baby tree with improved branching.

Six years later, that baby caragana is now a sizable tree.


Finding the Right Replacement Tree

To lessen the chance of total tree destruction under similar ‘Snowtember’ conditions, I searched local greenhouses for months to find the right specimen. Choosing better branch spacing allows several to be snapped without the tree shape being totally destroyed. 

This species is created with grafted branches. 


Root Spiraling Weakened Another Tree

Similar to the Russian Olive in Year 7, while removing the broken Fernleaf Caragana, I discovered a twisted root ball. Although the outer roots had been loosened before planting, the knotted inner roots were hidden from sight. To prevent this from happening again, the new caragana’s root ball was fully ripped apart before planting.

An inner knot of roots prevents the tree from anchoring properly. 

Mulch Significantly Reduces Weeds

After observing how much the mulch suppressed the growth of new weeds, it was a project I wish I had done sooner. 

Dark brown mulch was a rich looking background to the plants.

The backyard looked tidier after mulching.

Male Arctic Beauty Kiwi Vines Turn Pink… Eventually

This Male Arctic Beauty Kiwi Vine took over 5 years to finally show its pink coloration. Sometimes you just have to be patient. 

Pink and white leaves on a Male Arctic Beauty Kiwi Vine.

The leaves begin turning white, then some will color to pink. 


With work incredibly stressful and demanding this year, a slower approach to the garden was necessary. Projects don’t have to be large and grand to be meaningful or important. 

The next few years were especially productive. However, this would not have happened if I’d pushed myself too hard this summer and burnt out.  

This post is part of the Blue Castle Garden Timeline series. 

About Jolene

I’m an avid gardener whose mission is to bring more beauty into the world. I believe that with the right information anyone can create their own lovely, small garden paradise.

When I’m not gardening you can find me exploring the Canadian Rockies. Learn more…

Jolene Rempel on Cirque Peak, Banff National Park.

About Jolene

I’m an avid gardener whose mission is to bring more beauty into the world. I believe that with the right information anyone can create their own lovely, small garden paradise.

When I’m not gardening you can find me exploring the Canadian Rockies. Learn more…


Blue Castle Garden: Year 12

Blue Castle Garden front yard flowers, bushes and trees.

Blue Castle Garden: Front Yard Plants – Entrance Area

Jolene Rempel sitting in front of Mount Lorette on Wasootch Ridge in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

Wasootch Ridge: A Snowy Springtime Adventure