My garden is like a patchwork quilt. When I first started gardening about 15 years ago, I jumped into it rather blindly. We had a large shady backyard with a few big trees and plenty of shrubs but not much landscaping and nothing you would call a garden. I loved the natural look of it but craved some color. One day, on impulse, I went to a garden center and bought quite a few beautiful, expensive plants. I had no gardening experience and could not get anyone to help me so I followed a couple of gardening guides and just bought what I liked. How hard could it be, I thought? You dig some holes in the ground and put some plants in the dirt. Hah!
That first year was sort of a hit-or-miss disaster. Gardening is a lot of work! And a garden needs sun, something that was lacking in my backyard. By the next year only a few of the plants came back and some others had taken over the garden. I learned as I went along though. Every year I got a little better at it. Reminds me of my quilting journey . . . .
Eventually, I got some good advice and had fun playing with plants and watching my garden mature and change over the years. I tried a lot of different plants to see what worked best. After a time, where there was once nothing but dirt and grass, my back yard was transformed into a more or less restful haven.
But it was still mostly green. The hostas have clearly overtaken the patio garden this year. They should have been divided in the spring - a couple of springs ago, actually - but I didn't get around to it.
I yearned for a cottage garden, though. There is little sun in the back and the only full sun spots are in the front. So a few years ago I convinced my husband to have a picket fence built near the front door and then he put in a small patio and dug out some beds so I could do some planting along it. I went out and bought some more of those expensive plants. And I got a bench for Mother's Day that year.
My sort of homemade "cottagey" garden. A work in progress.
Today the shrub roses are going crazy, the Peony is getting ready to bloom and pretty soon there will be another burst of color from the Phlox. Not bad. If I manage to get in some annuals, I say we'll call the front finished for now.
One of my favorite spots . . .
This book has been on my shelf for a little while. Hmmm . . . time to finally read it, I think.
I haven't done much in the garden for a couple of years, mostly because I was sick or recovering from surgery at prime gardening time and couldn't bend or lift or else it was because I was having trouble with my knee, whatever. Excuses, excuses. And for two years I simply did not have the energy to take care of a garden. But this year I'm all better and so excited to get back to it. Because it's been neglected a bit there's a lot of work to be done.
The back is a little wild and crazy and overgrown right now.
The yard has good bones though and there's plenty of space to work with -
Lots of room for dogs to play. But no color. I want to plant a shade garden all along the fence. I think it has lots of potential. Give me some tips on what to plant, all you shade gardeners out there.
So much work to do here it's pathetic.
I'll be dividing some of the plants that are already in the garden and moving things around, playing with scraps so to speak. Last week I bought a bunch of perennials from a sale through a local garden club. They were very cheap and all so pretty. I like to experiment with plants and every time I buy expensive plants at a garden center, they flop or don't come back the next year. These are cuttings of established plants from local gardens in this area and I've done this before so I know they will do well in my garden too. As I was loading the plants into my car I had to laugh. I felt like I was making a quilt from scraps instead of going out and buying new fabric LOL. Something I'm very good at. We'll see if my scrap theory works in the garden.
I bought a Bleeding Heart. Again. I love these so much but have not had luck with them in the past. Third time is a charm maybe? Right after I put it in the ground, a little black dog on a mission to capture a chipmunk ran across it and broke a few stems. Arrgh!
My own mission will be to buy some Hollyhocks and Foxglove this year to put near my picket fence.
Hollyhocks from a few years ago.
This summer I'll be a regular at the Chicago Botanic Gardens near me, snapping photos, searching for inspiration -
The beautiful English Walled Garden at the Chicago Botanic Gardens
Wish me luck in getting my garden back into shape. My sewing space also needs sprucing up but never mind that. One thing at a time. For now, I think I have my work cut out for me.