restoring neglected gardens

i have an old house (1815) with very neglected gardens. good bones, but a real mess of weeds, grass & run amok perennials. so, i need advice about salvage. what should i save, & how do i (organicly) get rid of the weeds/grass to replant? i have: hundreds of ditch lilies, orange daylillies. they're pretty invasive apparently... peonies in pink, red & white. i think these are fairly old varieties from the 50s or 60s. they need dividing & probably would appreciate soil amending. hostas, also old varieties, a solid green & a varigated. i tried dividing one last fall & bent my pitchfork. these are tough! not particularly attractive either. primroses (i think). yellow with orange outlining the petals. almost disappearing in long grass. bulbs: squills, daffodils, a few tulips & a few hyacinths that have very small blooms. some of the daffodils are the pheasant-eye type & i think those are original to the house from 1815. there are also 'wild' grape hyacinths that pop up randomly in my pasture. astilbies. these are also buried in the grass/weeds. coral bells. run-amok thyme & artimesia something that really looks like borage, but is perennial (unless borage reseeds its self to the exact same spot) one lonely yellow mum. roses. most appear to be growing from below the graft though & the rest are not doing well. lots of freeze dieback from last winter. lady's mantle. growing in grass. ok, that's the garden closest to the entry, so that's where i want to start. can i salvage the stuff that is intertwined with the grass? when & how do i divide the peonies? should i take them out (they are along a stone wall), rototill up the bed, add manure (i have lots of manure. i have llamas, goats & a steer) & replant? how do you get rid of daylillies & control the ones you want to keep? are named modern daylillies less invasive? oh, and is there any such thing as a perennial sweet pea? thanks, lee
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interesting topic. Lee. I have a similar problem. Lose <mind> to share e-mail, You are not alone!
Sue Western Maine infested with Bermuda Grass from Horse Manure

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Do you have pictures? The reason I ask is that this is the type of garden I would like, but only for my small city lot....
I managed to kill my day lillies, don't know what I did - they never bloomed, they were in with my iris. They probably got dug up when I shared the iris.
I just bought some everlasting peas seeds (lathyrus - they are climbers and like partial shade.)
Suggestions on how to get rid of some plants you don't want.... put a sign out on your fence.... free plants!
take care Liz

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I inherited a similar situation when I bought my house.
First thing is to find a bare patch (grass) and till it for a temporary holding area. Then start digging up the garden. Collect similar plants, plant in the newly tilled area.
When you've got enough cleared, till the cleared area, amend, and put in some of the plants you want to be there. Keep repeating. Order a truckload of mulch, and cover the bare soil around your new plantings with newspapers and 3 or more inches of mulch.
Ask around for spare pots: when you find an excess of something (like daylilies, I had 'em by the thousands) pot them up and give them to your friends. Or put them at the end of the driveway with a "FREE" sign on them.
Keep in mind this will take a couple of years. I'm still moving stuff around 4 years later! I don't think it will ever end, really.
As far as shrubs go, I got rid of mine (mostly forsythia and yews and other boring stuff) by putting out ads saying "Free shrubs, you dig" and got rid of them all.
My garden is starting to look really lovely, and like MINE. You have a lot of work ahead of you but it is very rewarding!

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the poor astilbies are in full sun. i've moved a few to the shady beds around the house foundation & those have perked up nicely. my big problem is getting things out without taking grass with them. i'll try to get some decent photos of the stuff i can't ID myself & put them on a website. it appears the former owner planted mostly invasive perennials though. i have weeded out 5 contractor size wheelbarrow loads of thyme & there's some variety of oregano all over. i have some short ugly purple leaved plant all over too. it has root runners.

shredded maple leaves? i have 20 acres of sugarbush... how about rotten hay?

i massacred the forsythia. i had left one, but it hasn't bloomed in 2 years. i also cut down a row of hydrangeas. that was hard, but they really weren't healthy. they were growing shelf fungus. the azaleas are in great shape. one is *huge*, about 7' tall & 6' wide. the rhodies aren't so great... i think they're getting windburn in the winter.and i had to severely trim the ones by the pasture because they're very tasty and poisonous to livestock (in order to avoid future trimming i've put electric fencing 4' inside the stock fence. now they can't reach the rhodies).

i think it will be. there's just so *much* of it. :) lee
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On 5/22/04 10:25 AM, in article
wrote:

species. Make sure you get every bit of root and rhizome though! Good luck Lee Cheryl
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The orange daylilies are aggressive growers.

Peonies don't like to have other plants growing up against them (like grass). However, they also have large fleshy roots that don't like to be disturbed. I'd try to gently pull the grass away from them and just topdress them with some bulb fertilizer (like Bulbtone) and some compost....but don't put the compost right against the stems. If you have to move them, wait until late summer, or do it next spring.
If they aren't blooming, you can use a spading fork and gently 'tease' them up higher. Peony eyes like to be an inch or so below the ground, definitely no deeper than two inches, or they stop blooming.

Use two shovels, back to back, to cut through them. You won't kill them! Hostas are tough.

Sure, just dig them out, get rid of the grass and replant them.

See above about the peonies, but I'll bet llama manure would be wonderful for them. Just don't lay it on thick, and keep it away from the stems.

You're going to have to get rid of the orange ones completely if you want to put in others. The orange ones are so aggressive they'll overrun the hybrids.

Yes, there are perennial sweet peas, around here we call them beach peas, they're pink....there's some growing up the street (no where near a beach! <G>)
--
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
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