Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'll show you mine... a tour of my garden

     I have always learned by seeing and doing so here is the tour of my various garden patches and what they look like now. Okay not right now, it has been raining for three days but as of Thursday.

Click on the pictures to view full sized

The view from the patio

     This is the long shot taken from the seating area of my back yard. You can't really tell but there are actually four gardening areas in this picture. Here is the explanation of what and why.

     Let me preface this by saying my garden soil is crap and not the good kind. It is fairly typical of what you will encounter if you are gardening in the city. Very little topsoil, lots of sand, broken bricks, cement, tar, coal, glass and garbage. All typical of city lots that have seen  a lot of construction and/or renovations. The garden I have is the end result of seven years of work and it is far from over.

     To add to my location woes, I have two mature trees on my lot, a black locust in the front and a black walnut in the back. Both have a profound impact on how I can garden in my spot.

     Last but not least, my lot is about a half meter above the sidewalk. My entire lot is like a huge raised bed, very difficult to keep watered in the heat of the summer.

     The First Division

     The first divide in my garden is between light and shade. The path is my divide. Everything on the right gets full sun, the left, shade. My fence casts a narrow shadow almost all day. Here are my shade plants.

Bleeding heart, it will be about a metre across in full growth
It is bracketed by snowball astilbe and toad lilies

Trilliums, blood roots, wild phlox and hosta

Jack in the pulpit, growing like a weed

Jack again, second clump, and the ferns just peeking up

   My shade garden is almost all perennials and a lot of native plants. In the summer I add some impatiens for colour. I don't know of any vegetables that will produce in shade.

     Division Two, Three and Four

     These are the various full sun areas inside the fence, divided by their proximity to the walnut tree. Two is the closest, four, the strawberry patch, is furthest away.

     Division two is mainly flowers and herbs. This has been a lot of trial and error because of the influence of the walnut tree. There are lots of plants that can't tolerate the juglone it produces. It is worst at the drip line of the tree but it's roots spread through most of my gardens.

Violets, dianthus and columbine

     Perennial herbs, oregano to the right, thyme, sage and lemon balm.
My blanket flowers just at the top edge

Creeping plox, soapwort, black eyed susan, hecuba, snow in summer, dianthus, peonies and irises The plox is from 2 little 4" pots and has survived 3 moves in the last 5 years

     Division three is my tomato, eggplant and cucumber patch. It is the only spot where they will grow. It also has my tarragon and chives in it. Two things I rarely use but....

The inside vegetable patch with my hydrangea at the front right corner
Yes, that poor thing is my attempt to grow a hydrangea

     Division four is the strawberry and rhubarb patch. It is the best soil I have on my lot and would be perfect for vegetables if there wasn't that enormous locust tree in front. The tree puts out leaves late so the strawberries and rhubarb are well on their way before they fall into partial shade. Good things grow around the air conditioner.

My ornamental, non spreading strawberry edging plants
My best mis-labelled plant purchase

     There are two other areas inside the fence, the lily bed, with Grandma Craig's mint and my containers. The containers are empty right now and the lilies are in a small bed so not really a big gardening area. I have no idea why but I killed two plantings of mint. Grandma's has thrived. ?

     Container gardening is its own animal and I will try and do a post only for that before the May 24 weekend.

Lilies, mint, and more violets (they spread like crazy)
My dahlias go in here to provide colour after the lilies are done

     Whoever said the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence never saw my lot. I have one area outside my fence. It is the one closest to the afore mentioned walnut tree.

The other side of the fence, tree on the left, garden on the right.

A closer view, can you believe the weeds already?

     I guess this would be division six or seven if you are keeping count. It looks rough right now and I was going to pretty it up before I took the pictures but there are lots of beautiful garden shots out there. This is what mine really looks like right now. It won't stay that way but I haven't had time to get it ready yet.

     I originally had such high hopes for this spot. It is 6'x19' so a fairly large area. I had visions of all kinds of produce coming from my very own garden. Reality intrudes. Other than the occasional garden drive through, (a big shout out to all the idiots who use my driveway to turn around, Thanks for being so careful) that @#@# tree is unfriendly to a huge variety of vegetables and flowers. I had no idea. It was only after two years of failures I realized something was amiss.

     This spot is where my beans, peas, Swiss chard, oak leaf lettuce and zucchini thrive. I also have thorn less blackberry bushes along the fence. I always border this garden with marigolds and arugula. Marigolds for visibility and arugula because I love the stuff. I actually like the colour and  smell of marigolds and Grandma Craig always had them in her garden at home. They are supposed to be an insect repellent.

     As you can see, most of my beds are a mix of perennial and annual, flower, vegetable and herb. Personally I like that lush overgrown look. I can appreciate the manicured, everything in its place kind of garden, I just don't do that at home. The only thing I can't grow, because of space and that tree, is potatoes. I miss fresh out of the ground potatoes, heavy sigh. I guess I really am a farm boy at heart. LOL

      I have led you down the path, past the outdoor fireplace, fountain and patio set, by the barbecue, out the back gate and down the driveway. I'm tired now. LOL This upcoming week will be busy getting all of the beds ready for planting annuals and seeds. Lots of weeds to pull and compost to work in.

My shovel and size 11's, ready for action

     I've shown you mine, drop me a line and tell me about yours. Leave me a comment below and share how your garden grows.


  1. My garden page is up! Mostly spring flowers are blooming right now...but I can see the bee balm, columbine, astillbe, poppies, phlox and coneflowers all coming up nicely. Tulips and bleeding heart are blooming, but too rainy to get pictures today. No sign of the climbing sweetpea that has been coming up against all odds the last couple of years...but I won't give up hope yet.

    Getting soil tomorrow (I may be the only gal who spends her bday $$ on dirt and flowers...guess we can't run far from the country, eh? although I do have my eye on a lovely pair of metallic slingbacks too....a girls' gotta be prepared for anything, afterall.) Might pick out a few plants, but there's still a chill with this rain around here, so I may just be waiting until after long weekend this year.
    Thanks for the bday wishes! Did you see I got a KitchenAid mixer? I need a fabulous recipe for the first mix! Do margaritas count? LOL

  2. I saw you garden page, it looks great. I like that your three have their own spots too. That was smart.

    We can run from the country, it just follows LOL

    Lots of recipes you can use the KitchenAid for but sorry no drinks-those are blender recipes LMAO

  3. HA, victory!!....I just found a margarita cupcake recipe!! when I get it copied down, will share it with you.


Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoyed your time in the "Kitchen".