Transforming A Boggy Muddy Mess into a Beautiful Side Garden

Hillside springs eroding the soil - water flowing down a lengthy side garden - a pile of mud on the sidewalk - a boggy muddy mess!  

Homeowners Bruce and Maureen envisioned a beautiful side garden, but first had to fix their boggy muddy mess; my challenge du jour.  To remove the excess surface water, we designed multiple French drains and dry wells, and covered the unsightly drains with decorative rock to simulate a natural creek bed, curving it around 10 existing, highly cherished, adult blueberry bushes.  All was a success, as fall, winter and spring came and went, and the ground never became a bog, nor was there ever a mud pile on the sidewalk below.

This summer, the fun part began with a garden design around the creek bed with new and existing plant material.  The biggest challenge was to safely relocate the blueberry bushes that were bearing fruit at the time.  All was a success, except that days later we were hit by hot 90+ degree weather, so some of the plant material took a bit of a hit, but quickly bounced back with more normal Portland summer temperature (80's) and some supplemental hand-watering. 

To build the new planting berms, we used a 4-way garden soil mix, and a dark compost for top dressing, both from Grimms in Tualatin, OR.  To build the dry creek bed, we used a mix of rock sizes from Smith Rock in Portland, OR. 

No more boggy muddy mess… in its place, a beautiful garden…yea!  

Check out the before and after photos below...Enjoy!

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear

Transformed side garden with dry creek bed.  Looking up towards the woods. Photo by Fred Stickley / StickleyCreative

Transformed side garden with dry creek bed.  Looking up towards the woods.
Photo by Fred Stickley / StickleyCreative

What we started with.  Looking up towards the woods.  The existing short rock wall was hidden from view by shrubs in need of selective pruning. Photo by Fred Stickley / StickleyCreative

What we started with.  Looking up towards the woods.  The existing short rock wall was hidden from view by shrubs in need of selective pruning.
Photo by Fred Stickley / StickleyCreative

Creek Bed Trench Maureen 960.jpg

A garden hose works great to lay out the path for the dry creek bed. 
Photo by Fred Stickley / StickleyCreative

Going over plant care with Bruce and Maureen.  I love this part of the design process! Photo by Fred Stickley / StickleyCreative

Going over plant care with Bruce and Maureen.  I love this part of the design process!
Photo by Fred Stickley / StickleyCreative

Pam's Blood Orange Margaritas

A few Sunday's past, I celebrated with my girlfriends a significant birthday for one of our Spice girlfriends.  Spice is the 'club' name for this group of girlfriends.  I wasn't around when the term was coined, but I hear it has a torrid past…:)  In light of the recent tragic events that week in Boston, W. Texas, and Bangladesh, the party was perfect timing - a chance to be with loving friends, to laugh, and to share.

I was hoping for a warmer day than 50's and chance of rain… not good.  I kept hesitating to set my cocktail and appetizer table out in the garden, but the light outside was so beautiful - soft, but brilliant.  My other career is architecture photography,  so I'm very sensitive to the look, color, and feel of light.  So, I went for it, cold and all, which is why we're wearing jackets and sweaters in the photo.  I'm not wearing a sweater because I was in denial…:) 

We had a happy, chatty cocktail hour.  Pam, our mixologist, made her famous Blood Orange Margaritas, and Prosecco was the second choice.  The Blood Orange Margaritas were wonderfully delicious, a nice change from the traditional margarita.  Check out Pam's recipe below.  The menu for the lunch included my Mexican Shrimp Salad - great for a summer al fresco main dish - stay tuned for the posting of this recipe.  The grilled chicken and peppers, guacamole as a side dish, (fresh and chunky), and homemade pinto beans were all to-die-for. 

Blood Orange Margaritas and Prosecco!  The Spice Girls minus three, plus Chester the Havanese boy, hangin' with the girls...:)

Blood Orange Margaritas and Prosecco!  The Spice Girls minus three, plus Chester the Havanese boy, hangin' with the girls...:)

After a roaring round of "Happy Birthday," the b-day girl blew out the colorful tall candles that sat on top the assortment of colorful Saint Cupcakes, that sat on top the pedestal plate... very elegant - for cupcakes!  Fresh fruit and Greek yogurt, and more Prosecco, rounded out the perfect dessert.  We were all quite happy choosing which cupcake to eat.  We started splitting them in half, so we could get a taste of all the flavors and keep the not so good carbs down…:)

Take time to enjoy your friends and to write down significant times spent together, because those memories do tend to fade as we get older.  Good friends are so meaningful to living a full life, because sharing is what it is all about.

I'd like to share with you a recipe for Pam's Blood Orange Margaritas.

For approximately 8 servings.  Make a sweet and sour mix in this proportion:
Juice of 8 medium Blood Oranges
Juice of 4 plump limes
1 cup cranberry orange juice

The key is in the juice of the fruit, as it varies in amount and sweetness, so taste test to your liking.

For one grande or 2 smaller cocktails, mix in a shaker the following proportions:
2 shots of the sweet and sour mix
3 shots of tequila

Shake and serve over ice.  If you like salt with your traditional margarita, a blood orange margarita is also delicious with a rim of salt.  Garnish with lime.  This will make one grande or two smaller servings.  Pour me a Grande!

Anyone else have a special cocktail recipe you'd like to share?  Check out the links at the bottom of this post.  You can comment, like, and share.   Enjoy and always love hearing from you.

Till the next time...

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear