Sunday, February 21, 2010

First Days in the Garden

In the beginning, there was a humble house, and novice knowledge of gardening. The art and enjoyment hadn't even come up on my radar screen until one birthday - when a pair of my best pals gave me plants as gifts. (…did they not know that I could kill most house plants in mere weeks?...)

In 2004, I started with Shasta Daisies, Gaillardia, Paprika Yarrow and Sweet William. As we excavated the first corner of the yard, I naively assumed my plants would live forever! Certainly lots of compost & fertilizer would circumvent the unfriendly layer of clay just 5” under the top soil? I lost the Sweet Williams by the next spring, and the Shastas looked pretty anemic. What my gardening pals failed to mention (?), the addictive quality of the whole gardening experience! If one plant dies, then surely you must buy MORE!

I learned that Daylilies were my friends! They were hardy – friends liked to share them (for free!) and they grew bountiful! Tall orange Tiger Lilies were bullet proof!! (They still thrive, and they’ve been through our own personal ‘Armageddon’ ... a story for later.)

I have learned after almost 6 years that as much as I love Azaleas and Rhododendron, I have yet to find the magic ingredients (or micro-climate) to make even one plant survive. That cute little ‘Very Cherry Azalea’ (in the picture below) met its maker the winter after it was planted.

The Japanese Barberry looks like it’s in ‘jail’ with all the fencing around it, but the bunnies started mowing through it like it was a ‘Scooby snack’! I smile as I look at our early attempt at using paver stones as edging. I say ‘we’ – because my husband has been HUGE in helping me with this ever growing obsession.

He grumbles and mumbles as he patiently does the ‘big digs’ every year as I sketch up some new idea or add another garden. He threatens to sell the lawn mower as the gardens grow and the yard shrinks. I don’t have the heart to tell him we are moving in a much more ‘eco-friendly’ direction!

Other friend-propagated plants I inherited included the Mini-Irises in this picture… You may notice a ‘purple’ theme as well. (Though I’ve been told I am OCD, with an ed. background in design and art – I just can’t help myself!) I like continuity – and ‘yes’ I have plants of other colors!

I get early gratification from the Mini-Irises and the Pasque flower in the photo below. They both break ground early in Illinois’s growing season, along with the various daylilies I grow. (..Or I should say, that grow for me --- I still consider it a bit of a miracle that plants grow for me!).

The backyard had been my ‘blank canvas’. That’s where I spent my ‘sanctuary’ time, so that’s where I focused my efforts on gardening. My front yard had some original anchor evergreens, and I was never in the front yard – so it remained untouched. (Kind of heartless, huh?!)

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