Despite being into plants, I wasn’t very interested in gardening until relatively recently. My eldest sister and my mother are the gardeners of the family and I was happy to listen to them and admire their work but it didn’t go beyond that.
“I learn about plants because I kill them when I try to grow them”.
I dipped my toe in the last year I lived in the city. We had a backyard that year so my husband dug a flower bed for me. It wasn’t a great success. When we bought the house, the laundry list of renovations and upgrades included landscaping. It was pretty hideous. Tree stumps, old flower beds mangled with roots, random rose bushes everywhere and lots of gravel. The first year was spent removing the stumps and cutting trees. The second spring was spent hauling truck loads of dirt to even out the rolling hills in the yard. I didn’t really tackle the flower beds until the second summer. The flower beds included 5 cedar topiaries (which I despise) and 3 clematises. The cedar topiaries were ripped out and replaced with several day lilies which my sister happily fixed me up with. 2 of the 3 clematises were kept because they looked good. I made my first bed with the intent to grow vegetables. Hubby also built me a rock garden at the back.
So, what do you fill all this space with? It was kind of patchwork that year. I planted tomatoes, which fell everywhere but still managed to get a lot. I didn’t clean the bed of all the cherry tomatoes that were produced and, to my surprise, got quite a few baby plants sprouting this past Summer. I tried zucchini and, amazingly, failed. I think I got 2. They crowded too much and the plants rotted. The spinach, chard and lettuce did great! So did the string beans and snap peas.
This past Spring, in preparation for my bridal shower, the gardening sister had a glorious idea. Ask people for plants from their garden or purchase their favorites to include in mine! That worked. I spent the Summer deciding where things should go and building more space to incorporate everything. I now have a lovely mix of plants with an equally lovely mix of stories to go with it. Honeysuckle. Peonies, my paternal grandmother’s favorite. Azaleas. Spiraea. The only things I haven’t decided on are the fruit trees and the larch.
I am very adept at growing plants where they shouldn’t be. Like the tomatoes, this Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) came up between the slats in my patio and grew to 10 feet tall. The birds are still happily feeding on it so I will probably get more surprises next year.
My sister is completely jealous of my clematis. They love where they are.