When we moved to the cottage, it was in the late summer of 2005. I was overwhelmed with the move and getting situated in our new home, so I held off on any planting until I could take my time and get to know the property. The one thing we did do was plant four tiny boxwoods in front of the porch, an area that was sadly barren looking. Here’s a glimpse of the boxwoods as they looked the following spring (2006):
Teeny-tiny. I can spot the beginnings of my clematis right below the second post from the left and the newly planted Lady Elsie May rose bush on the far left. The tiny rose bush that you can see on the far right didn’t survive.
Here’s what it looks like in this summer of 2013. I added the rose bushes, hydrangeas and spirea on the far left and all the plants that are around the corner in the side-of-the-house garden beds. The boxwoods have done terrifically well; I shaped them with my pruners just the other day. On the far right is the hydrangea that I planted last summer. I’m hoping it grows enough to balance the larger bushes on the left.
When the spring of 2006 arrived, I was raring to go. I couldn’t wait to start prepping the large garden bed. Always on a budget, I added just enough plants to make it affordable and manageable. Here’s a photo of me watering the garden – it gives you a nice idea of the beginnings of the large garden bed.
Here it is today, in the spring of 2013; not a lot in bloom yet, but you can see how everything has grown. (I notice that I hadn’t yet planted anything in front of the shed.)
I like a densely planted, free-form sort of garden – a lush look with plants spilling over each other. After 7 summers, we’ve reached ‘lush.’
In those first days of getting to know my garden, I started this journal:
I wrote quite a bit in those days – logging in details as to the first and second years of the garden.
I was just discovering the cycles of the trees and the plants. When did the Catalpa bloom? What about the peonies?
Take note of the entry highlighted by the arrow. Salvia – dug up by Riley. The salvia was in a raised bed by the kitchen door and that boy loved to dig there. I miss him.
The cranesbill geranium and astilbe lasted a few summers, the creeping veronica lasted a bit longer. All of those plants eventually died. Who knows why?
Perennial gardening takes patience. Except for the pots of annuals and the little area in front of the dog corral that is grown from seed, every plant in the gardens is a perennial. For six of the last seven years, I have added a few more plants (remember I’m on a minuscule budget) each spring. Eventually, I put in two more beds on the side of the house. Slowly, over time, I discovered what worked well and what didn’t. We’ve reached an agreement of sorts, my gardens and I. We know each other. I agree not to use pesticides or anything that will harm the environment. The garden thanks me by growing naturally, allowing the proliferation of healthy bugs (and some not so benign) as well as providing a home for butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. If, like a couple of days ago, I see that the deer have been chomping on a few plants, I use Vicki’s all natural deer repellent recipe and spray all the plants.
Does that mean that there are holes in some of the leaves from caterpillars and bugs? Yes. It sometimes makes getting a good photo a bit more difficult but, in the end, I don’t care. Not only do I have a garden that I love, a place of peace and beauty, but I’m not polluting the soil or the ground water.
And here’s the kicker: after 7 years of planting, I’ve reached the point where I don’t have to spend any more money on new plants. The perennials come back every year like old friends, and I can trust that they will be a bit lusher, a bit fuller. I simply buy some annuals for the porch and the funky patio and that’s it.
Until I start a new garden bed.
Oh, cottage and gardens, I love thee.
Cicada update: Just about a half mile up our road, where the woods are more plentiful and are next to the road, the sound of the cicadas is deafening. Don came back from an errand yesterday and told me about them, so we got in the car so I could give them a listen. Amazing. These 17 year cicadas, millions of them, are making the most incredible noise; the cicada buzz along with a high pitched drone. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie! I even saw them flying around.
I recorded them with my iPhone but I couldn’t figure out how to transfer that to the blog without a lot of hassle. Then I realized that all anyone has to do is search for Cicada/audio and you’ll have a good idea of what I’m talking about.