JB and I moved into this house without an understanding that this third of an acre lot is pretty sunny and offered some landscaping fun. I'd never had full sun before--never!--and I love shopping at garden centers as much as I love bookstores. Add to this the unbelievable fact that I have non-work time like never before: these days I am still writing and pondering my next moves while I leisurely plan out my yard.
I'm an enthusiastic gardener but not an expert one. If you think about it, gardeners only get a limited amount of chances to paint their canvasses. I think that is why older people seem to be the best gardeners-they've had more opportunities and seasons to practice. To compensate for all that I don't know, my plan has always been to buy and plant things while they are blooming--that way I can actually see how the colors, size, height and duration will look with everything else around it. Last fall this plan fell apart when I had back surgery, so I'm really only on my second year of beginning to plan and plant.
I'm hopeful. Here's some of how I'm doing:
1. Last summer we hired someone to build up this "shade garden" in our front yard. He turned over the soil, pulled out some roots, and added about 4 inches of compost and top soil. The result: I can plant most things without worrying about hitting roots. Then I bought hostas and a few ferns. I planted the hostas in a circle around the tree. I've now added a couple of Bleeding Heart perrenials, a few begonias, ground cover in the lower right hand area, and today I started putting annual IMPATIENS (ha ha ces, I will no longer spell it wrong) around the outer rim of this half circle. I dug a trench all around the circle, using this fantastic spade I got for Christmas. I've never used a spade before (it's a flat shovel) and it's been fantastic in making a boundary. Oh, and I hauled and spread out mulch.
Here is the current view from the little room off the kitchen. This is project # 1, and it's just about finished. It took me about 6 hours to get all this done.
2. Here's Project # 2. I started with a messy area around the front lamp post. I dug it up and found thin hostile sheet metal someone had dug in, probably to keep the grass from spreading. I wanted to get the metal out so someday I wouldn't be nonchantly planting and all of a sudden I've sliced my hand. I tried to remove it, but it was hostiley hopeless. In the process, I sliced my finger. So I left the ##@%% metal, took my time making a border using flat rocks, and added as much topsoil and compost as I could. Then I planted dark pink IMPATIENS. They will flower all summer. This shot is incomplete--you have to imagine one or two more circular rows of inpatients. Project # 2 looks so simple and basic I'm embarrassed to admit how much time and energy it took. I'll leave it at that.
3. Project # 3: This is my favorite. Last year I hired two guys to dig up an area off the driveway for me. I wanted a half circle garden where I would mix perrenial flowers, herbs, and a few vegetables--tomato plants being one absolute necessity. Today I hope to plant 8 tomato plants, surrounded by marigolds and basil, which all serve to compliment and protect eachother from disease and bugs; and leeks and onions, which I've never done. Last week I planted little lettuce just behind the # 9 rock. The garden will take the most time and effort all summer--it will need to be weeded and I will keep adding and thinning plants, following my plan of planting and clustering while they are in bloom.
4. Project # 4: The back yard and the back of the garage--I am giddy that the ferns and begonia-like leaves I planted last spring have come back!! I will add pink IMPATIENS in between and that will be that.
Projects # 5, 6, & 7: This area will take me a few years to finish. I want to put a stone path of some kind to JB's Magic Cottage, the area against the fence is still a big question mark, and the patch of dirt that you see will shortly be jampacked with zinnias. Last year we had freshly cut flowers all summer. If you have never fallen in love with zinnias, I recommend that you do. Give them sun, feed them once a month, and cut how ever many you want and they will happily multiply for you.
8. This is a shame. I have tried to make this shot vertical. I have tried!! In Adobe where it is stored, it IS vertical. NOTE: MY PROFESSIONAL BLOG DESIGNER WHOSE FIRST INITIAL IS "C" STRAIGHTENED THIS OUT FOR ME. IF IT'S NOT OBVIOUS, I HAVE FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES. That said, here's my most exciting yard project so far. Last year JB and I planted 3 flowering trees. This one is right outside my office and its flowers are AWESOME.
9. Here's the first flower from the garden. I can't tell you what it is but it's spikey blue. In the plant world, blue is not a frequent color, so I try to appreciate it more.
11. Project # 8: The area behind the Magic Cottage is a little sanctuary. There is traffic on the other side of the fence but JB and I pretend the whizzing of cars is actually the sound of ocean waves (magical thinking 101). Last summer I planted these boxwood shrubs which will hopefully grow into eachother. Last fall they were joined by flowering tree # 2. I don't know how this will develop, but I like the feel of it so far.
13. Oh, one more addition to my garden: Mr. Ryan gets baptised. He already walks with the angels. Maybe not the best transition, but, hey, this Thursday 13 is about growth afterall. :)
Here's wishing you all a fine Memorial Day Weekend. In this neck of the woods, summer now begins!