I've been making a mellow end to the evening with strongbow and a garden magazine - specifically, a special issue of Garden Gate called "Easy Weekend Gardening". Being American, it's peppered with irrelevancies for my situation (so annoying when a plant catches your eye and then the caption says "ha ha! Not hardy past Zone 9!") but less so than, say, most Better Homes & Gardens publications I've skimmed. And I happened across a couple of scheme-inspiring points.
* It claims that tree peonies can take part shade, since they flower early in the year and hence can get the sun they need before other trees leaf out. I think I may have the perfect setting for that under the apple trees. Then again, the intarwebs don't seem to think tree peonies bloom THAT much earlier than herbaceous peonies, and I'm pretty sure it's too shady there for the herbaceous kind. Hmmm. Worth pondering.
* I've been needing a use for all the rocks left over from the patio. A little dry-laid wall might be just the thing - in the middle bed, in front of the hydrangeas and spirea, maybe. And then I could start sedums and thyme and such growing in the cracks. Wouldn't that be an awesome backdrop for one of those gorgeous copper fountains I've been coveting!