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An as-it-is tour of the garden


Last week I promised that I’d take you on an as-it-is garden tour. I’ve never done this before because I hate people to see the garden unless it’s looking in tip-top shape, which, frankly, it rarely is. But I figured after I showed you this, the state of my garden couldn’t shock you that badly (and unlike that other post, there is no underwear that has to be Photoshopped out).
So you know, I did no preparation whatsoever for these photos. I just took the camera outside and started shooting. So there are shovels and empty pots laying around, piles of weeds and general riff raff. This is how the garden would have looked if you came over unexpectedly Sunday morning.
So here we go. There are a LOT of pictures so I’ll try to keep the chatter to a minimum. 
This is what I call the “Main Garden,” only because it was the first garden. It extends off the patio on the front of the house. 
Overhead view. The serviceberry tree anchors the southeast corner and the large shrub you see is the ‘Limelight’ hydrangea.

Ground level view.
This is the center of that bed, arguably the focal point area and yet it has a big hole in it. I do this all the time: I save the “good” spots for something really special and then I never put anything there. I have planted a bunch of zinnias and nasturtiums there so hopefully that hole will be filled in later in summer.

On the corner by the apron in the driveway I have a mini rock garden area. The rocks came from Mr. Much More Patient’s parents’ house. I had to pull the larger one out farther this year because the boxwood was eating it. I just pruned the boxwood back into meatball shape (I love meatball boxwoods, so kill me) and you can see all the clippings just laying below it.
Two favorites: Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ and a nasturtium. I actually pulled that one out of the window box because it was threatening to take over. I plunked it in the garden there and it seems to be perfectly happy.
This is the backside of the Main Garden, looked at as if you were standing by the garage. Until last year the three hostas on that corner were huge and beautiful. This year, two are not at all happy. I think they needed dividing and I let it go too long.
I cut the purple smokebush WAY back this year and it is only now starting to revive. Several main branches appear to be dead so I need to prune those out further. Hopefully it will recover fully by the end of the summer or by next year.
I know I go on too much about nasturtiums, but I love this little shot of cute little nasturtium babies in the Main Garden waiting to fill in that hole.
To the left of the Main Garden is the new garden I put in three years ago after installing the path. That garden (the terraced garden or deck garden in The Impatient Gardener speak) is in its leap year and boy, has it leapt. I need to do some serious pruning in fall and early spring there, but overall I’m thrilled with it.
This is the overhead view. The Main Garden is off to the left of the path, the path and the gardens to the left of it were new.

View from the deck side.

Creeping jenny can be a be aggressive, but I love how it brightens up this garden, especially with the dark-leaved dahlias there.
This gingko (‘Gnome’) is a favorite and it’s doing really well.

View from the other side (the oxalis weeds are taking over in that lower bed!)
The Oso Easy roses are in full bloom. They are beautiful! Not particularly fragrant, but gorgeous nonetheless.

That’s a whole lotta hydrangea there! There are three regular Limelights planted against the deck and then three ‘Little Limes’ mixed in there, not to mention an Incrediball next to the bottom of the stairs. They will all need a little pruning for shape early next spring.

On the other side of that staircase I have a small bed that sort of mimics the other side, with an Incrediball hydrangea, ‘Elegans’ hosta, ‘Paradigm’ hosta and an unhappy small dogwood tree. That’s the hosta I moved (and divided, the other half is on the other side) before our renovation and its certainly no worse for the wear.

Bed on the left side of the path as you walk towards the garage.

Bed on the right side (and the paddleboard, which was put to good use over the weekend).

Looking back the other direction. Very happy with how Picea engelmannii ‘Blue Magoo’ is growing up .
Next to the garage I have a small island bed that I originally planted to hide the propane tank. The tank has been gone for a few years now and the island bed looks really stupid. I didn’t even really edge it this year because it’s due to be completely redone. Plus, with the big birch tree gone, it’s getting way more sun that it used to. There are three buckthorne ‘Fine Line’ shrubs planted in back. The one on the left is essentially dead, the one in the middle is being strangled by a clematis and the one on the right looks like a shaggy monster. Not so sure about that plant.

This is the clematis that is currently hosting a family of cardinals. Can’t wait for the babies to arrive!

Behind that I planed three large viburnums. That area is so weedy that I just keep throwing down cardboard and covering it up with mulch when I have some to attempt to keep the weeds from taking over the world.

Now we switch over to the west side of the house. This was a pretty shabby bed when we bought the house and I’ve pretty much redone the whole thing other than the peonies.
It’s a little more formal that I usually get in the garden, but I do like this little area in front of the fireplace planted with a witch hazel, heuchera ‘Black Beauty’ and Hackonechloa ‘All Gold.’

Before we move on, let’s just take a quick look at the patio area.
In the corner by the main stairs to the deck I planted a cardoon (I am loving cardoons this year), as well as a few random annuals I had including a 2014 Proven Winners introduction Superbells Pomegranate Punch. It definitely serves to brighten up that corner.

Next to that is a more utilitarian container area with Hudson’s tomato, a pot of basil (some of which has not recovered from its very cold and wet start), a hosta I have to plant yet, some sedums and a pot of spearmint.

If you need to know why you should never, ever plant mint directly in the ground, just look at this plant. It’s only been in there a month or so and the runners are actually pushing dirt out of the pot they are so agressive. Mint is good stuff but don’t let it get loose!

The window box was looking a little better before I pulled out the nasturtiums. I planted small new ones in that are more of a trailing variety so hopefully things will fill in a little better now.

The climbing rose is doing well here along with its clematis friends. The rest of that small patch by the house (which faces south so it’s really hot) is all Russian sage.

Going up the steps by the front door I have more Pomegranate Punch along with Mexican feather grass and Superbena Royale Iced Cherry. I think I should have planted something yellow in there with the Pomegranate Punch.

On the other side of the front door stairs are a few more decorative pots that are finally starting to come into their own. Everything had such a slow start.

More Pomegranate Punch and Superbena Violet Ice make a good combo in that container.

On the deck the mandevilla vine is starting to do it’s thing and everything else is filling out. I like this riot of color in this container. The deck really needs it with everything else being white and gray. That ficus in the background is where the robins are living.

 Now we move onto the circle garden, west of the front door. This was a derelict vegetable garden when we bought the house and I made it into the alien landing pad (at least that’s what it looks like on Google maps).

Google maps view

The poppies are everywhere. I resolve to be better about deadheading them this year.

I need to do a post on Egyptian walking onions. I am absolutely loving them. They just crack me up.

I should have waited a couple days to take a picture of the ‘William Baffin’ rose in the center of the circle garden. It is so beautiful right now.

I love these little ‘Orkney Cherry’ geraniums, but whatever that weed is will be the death of me. It just keeps coming back and coming back and coming back.

My little chive hedge is growing nicely. I think it might actually work.

 Now we move into the more “naturalized” areas of the garden. This is sort of behind the house. This is a newish garden area where the cedar tree was removed from this spring.

A ‘Venus’ dogwood that I’m doing a little zone pushing on.

That bed flows right into this one, which I’ve been sort of working on for awhile. Mostly it gets cast-offs from other parts of the garden. I do love the climbing hydrangea though.

Clematis ‘Niobe’ is showing off in there.

A new Japanese maple I planted. It better grow quickly or it will be eaten!

 Path to the veggie garden.

To the left of that path. This is a true shade bed.

 More of that wretched oxalis. I swear the stuff is killing me!

I like to keep this area feeling very natural so back by the tree I let the lilies of the valley run free.

I like this little combo.

Goatsbeard is a great shade plant.

And off to the back 40, happy home of the veggie garden.

This new raised bed holds onions and kale.

The obelisk bed (could we possibly call it anything else with that huge green thing in there?) has zucchini, goji berries, climbing nasturtiums and even a sweet pea.

The goji berries haven’t grown much but they are blooming! Pretty little purple flowers.

There’s a baby zucchini in there!

Now we’re in the main veggie garden. OK, yes, there is a weed problem on the ground. I’ll deal with it sometime. Probably. And of course there are also a few plants waiting for homes hanging out there too.

We had our first pea this weekend!

I plant this garden very intensely because I amend the soil with lots of good compost and worm castings. This is Swiss chard and beets.

So there you have it … a true-life tour of the garden. I know you’ll look past the weeds and stuff all over. Right? Promise?

22 Responses

  1. Erin, it is lovely, weeds and all. I have never related well to perfection. 🙂 I especially like your nasturtiums next to the veronica. I've been thinking about adding some deep orange highlights to my burgundy/purple bed out front, and nasturtiums would be perfect to see how it would look without commiting to a perennial. Thanks for the idea!

    By the way, I also have some spearmint in a pot that is going to stay there. I like it in small doses, but overtaking my garden? No thanks.

  2. It was great to see the entire garden; certainly an ambitious landscape. I love pruned boxwoods. We do that to most of our boxwoods and some of the yews. I think it really sets off all the more flowing areas. Seems like you were just writing about putting in the path and it is so mature looking.

  3. Oh, a Cardoon! I've wanted one of those for ages. Maybe next year.
    And I too love love Nasturtiums: they are just so cheerful and happy. A small pitcher with some of them just makes my day!
    Yow, you have SO much to take care of: how do you find time to go to work???Really, it is quite amazing. Beautiful indeed!!!
    I'll have to ask you sometime about your path to the garage etc. We just had someone here yesterday to plan a path, so I'm gathering pictures now. But I was thinking of just about the kind you have here! later….

  4. I really enjoyed the tour of your beautiful gardens. I love the winding stone path through the yard. The running commentary provided some interesting insights as to the thought process behind the evolution of your garden design.

    I just planted the Hakonechloa 'All Gold' grass I have had on my 'To Buy' list for several years after finding it at Lowe's ON SALE. I look forward to seeing it spread to form a nice-sized clump like the one that draws your eye right to that gorgeous stone fireplace.

    I'll have to add a few of those Oso Easy roses to my "To Buy" list , after losing quite a fw Knock Outs this past winter.
    The cold winter winds sweeping off Lake Winnebago have wrecked havoc on some of my plants.

    I am especially inspired viewing all these photos, as I garden just an hour or two north of you in Zone 5a where most of these plants should thrive as well, probably blooming a bit later than yours. I just have to keep in mind my yard is quite a bit sunnier with most of the trees (and good topsoil) having been removed as is often the case in newer developments, leaving behind heavy clay to be amended.

    Hope you'll consider sharing some photos later in the season so we can see how the gardens change over the seasons. So glad you showed your garden "as is" weeds and all. I too am having a terrible time keeping up with oxalis this year. And I invariably find a "lost tool" or two lurking somewhere when I do a quick tour of my garden. (I've found it most efficient just to just purchase an ample supply of tools that I don't end up wasting my time hunting for them when they are misplaced as they so frequently are. )

    Hope you're finding a chance to get out in the garden to enjoy sunny weather with the drop in humidity we've been looking forward to.

    1. Thanks Sue. That's a great idea to take more pictures later in the season. Since I've now shown it, warts and all, I guess I have nothing to hide, right?

  5. Loved the tour, Erin. Love the realness of your garden. So many times we only see perfection and we all know that that is not a reality in the gardening world.

    So many beautiful combinations – the japanese painted fern with the violets beside it being just one of them. But I think my favourite is the creeping jenny and burgundy leaved dahlias – knock your socks off gorgeous.

    Thanks for sharing. You've inspired me to do the same thing – let it be "real". Now if only the rain would stop so that I could get out there and shoot some pictures.

  6. Great tour! I know you'll find something worthy of the special spot in your main garden. The veronica is beautiful! I longed for my childhood home in Maryland where I could have grown many of the plants you showed- not so much in Los Angeles. I've recently become interested in egyptian walking onions, have yet to have some find me, and I'm glad you're enjoying yours!!

    1. If my egyptian walking onions start a-walking I may have some to share next year and I'd be happy to send you some if that's the case. They seem to be tough buggers and I bet they'd handle the trip just fine.

  7. I love garden tours! You have all sorts of cool things to look at in your garden. Your nasturtium babies are adorable. I feel like I go on too much about nasturtiums too—they are so so cute, and you can eat them, too! I also relate to leaving the good spots in the garden for things you never put in. Have been out assessing my "gaps" today. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your garden. It's lovely!

  8. Thank you for sharing! I love your garden! Part of what makes it so charming is the "realness" of your pictures! Very true to life and appreciated! Do you happen to know the name of the climbing rose (in the photo just above the Superbena Royale Iced Cherry)? It's gorgeous!

    1. Awww, thanks for the nice comments, Jules. The climbing rose on the patio is Cancan. I think it was developed by the Knockout rose guy. In any case I find it to be very easy care save for an ongoing issue I have with aphids, although I don't think that's the rose's problem.

  9. Beautiful! I find that all my gardens are a work in progress and my plants are on wheels. Nothing is ever how I want it to be. I just purchased host Paradigm and am so in love with it. Hope the deer, not so much.

  10. I love all your gardens, so alive and no, not perfect, but no garden is.

    Every year is different. We are having a good year in our gardens because of the regular rains here in NE Ohio. Almost every bed is happy. Last year was very dry and everything suffered and required the hose. Gardens are a never ending source of interest for my hubs and me. Will never tire of watching plants grow or the beauty of a flower. Also a total fan of the stylish nasturtium, love them!

    1. It is a nice to have a different year than the drought of 2012, isn't it? Even if it is almost too wet here and a more than a little buggy, it's probably better than having to constantly be lugging hoses around! Thanks for your nice comments.

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