Some of you who know me know that I have lived in a big house with eleven acres with lots of beds for flowers and lots of patio space ideal for potted plantings. I think the final count for pots at that house was up to seventy. My husband informed me of this, as he was the one watering them. At one point I removed a cascading water pond and put in a three level cutting garden. Basically, it was the house of our dreams.
Three years ago, I moved into a smaller house on an acre and a half. Even though we rented, I felt I needed to make it my own. It was a charming house with a cute front porch, a fenced in side bed, and a walk to the back door with a very small patio attached.
We moved in November so I wasn’t able to do much gardening. Instead, I stared out my kitchen window looking at the unsightly amount of weeds lining the stockade fence to the rear of the property and dreaming up ways to put in gardens. I was also trying to figure out how to make a patio big enough to fit our large table with eight chairs and two lounge chairs.
At the first sign of spring, I was out the back door and into the yard. The first thing I did was spray all those yucky weeds along the fence. As you know from my last blog, I like to spray twice - a week apart - to make sure I have gotten all the weeds before starting a new bed. I had about twenty yards of garden soil, which is a mix of top soil and mushroom soil, dumped along the fence. Then this all needed to be raked out, which I have to admit I had some help with.
Then I started to plan my garden. Of course, that did not take me long and, within a month, I had that pretty well-designed and mostly planted.
Any gardener will tell you: a garden is always a work in progress.
The next project I tackled was the fenced-in side garden, which was sun all day long. This area had gone untouched for two summers so it was overrun with wild grass and lily of the valley that had runners, and a thick periwinkle ground cover. What a mess! Several neighbors told me it had once been a gorgeous perennial bed with flowers blooming all summer long. There were iris, sedum, and a few other perennials that started to make an appearance in early spring. I dug most of those out and relocated them to my garden along the back fence. There was a lilac bush at one end and a butterfly bush at the other. By the time I moved in, the butterfly bush was twenty feet tall and falling over. That got chopped back to three feet high immediately. I then proceeded to dig out the lily of the valley and periwinkle and move them to a shady wooded area to the rear of the property. I then rototilled the whole area, sprayed any remaining weeds that were left several more times and put in some veggies.
With the patio completed, I could get going on my pots. I started by digging out the pots I had brought from the other house, much to the movers grumbling. My count the first summer came to about thirty-five when all was said and done.
The following year, I added a small patio off the garage and under an apple tree. I set up a bistro set, and added a flagstone walk around the tree that I decorated with, guess what? More pots. I called this my secret garden since it was a little oasis tucked away behind the apple tree and the garage.
The second year I removed an overgrown hedge that was along the walk to the back door that broke from all the snow and ice over the winter. It was so overgrown, the branches just snapped from the weight of the heavy snow that had fallen. This is a good reason to trim your hedges and trees. Compact, neatly pruned bushes withstand heavy snow much better than long-limbed branches. I replaced the hedge with a picket fence and added a very English cottage feel to the already cute looking garden. Of course, at this point, I believe my pot count was up to about fifty-four. I love to do different pots with different combinations in order to see what works. This way, I feel I can make better suggestions to customers at Buckmans when they are planting their pots.
I also have two hostas, an astilbe and chives that came back in several other pots, as well as Creeping Jenny that came back in all my hanging baskets. To those I added million bells, verbena or trailing torenia to make them all look full and blooming. I used large nursery stock pots for three of my pots, put obelisks in them and planted some tomatoes. I added carrots around the edge of two and red beets as an edging in the third. The one with a patio tomato in it I add basil to that pot also. I have parsley as the center of one of my pots with million bells around it, and I used variegated lemon thyme to accent some of my flowering pots. This will also some back year after year.
I put cucumbers in a deck railing box and they’re now trailing down the side of the deck. I laid ninety-eight EP Henry 8x8 blocks to create a patio between my deck and the townhouse next door. I carried every single one through the garage, up three steps, through the house, out the kitchen door, across the deck and down five steps. But boy was it worth the effort. The result was a little area for my bistro set and pots. I added a fence to hide the air conditioner, put up shepherds hooks with hanging baskets, and added a birdhouse on a metal stand to the middle. My secret garden has returned.
I decided not to plant anything directly in the garden, instead, opting to use pots situated among the sweet autumn clematis, bleeding hearts and sedum already growing in the flower beds. A few birdhouses and hanging baskets made my little garden utopia complete.
The moral to my story here is this:
Whether you have eleven acres, one acre, or a deck, you can create a wonderful garden setting using annuals, perennials, and herbs in order to have a very easy, eye-pleasing and usable garden.