Monday, April 13, 2009

Welcome to My Garden!

Gardening in Central Virginia can be a lot of fun. We have nice springs and falls, with fairly moderate winters. The summers can be blazing hot - periodically - but the bigger problem is the humidity which is hard on lots of plants. We are in the southern part of zone 7, but only 100 miles from the Atlantic coast where it's zone 8. If you're lucky and your micro-climate is just right you can grow things that are either "too hot" or "too cool" for our zone. We have clay soil that runs to the acid side, so you have to mulch and amend your soil, but overall it's a pretty good place to garden. So meet my garden.

Nine summers ago I started from scratch. This lot had been vacant, so I began with a blank slate with a newly built house in the middle. I had experience working in my mother's beds, my aunt's garden, and in a very formal rose garden created originally by my father-in-law, but had never been "in charge" of starting from scratch. I knew I didn't like orange flowers and am not all that fond of red or yellow, and had no clue about garden design. I dived in anyway. The first summer we put in a 12 x 12 vegetable garden, but I spent the winter thinking - and thinking big.

In nine years I have expanded the back garden to 70 x 25 with another 25 x 10 L-shaped addition, and have added beds along all four sides of the house - mostly curved because I love curves! And we have three islands in the front yard. We also added a small (1oo gallon) pond two years ago. In the future, I'll show you the rest of the yard, but for now let's concentrate on the big garden in the back - where I actually spend most of my time. The photo above left is a mid-summer picture of the main garden looking from the L to the left toward our garden shed/workshop. You can see a small crabapple tree nearly in the center. The photo below is the opposite view, with my neighbor's crepe myrtle at the right side and a garden shed in the distance. You can see that it is full of plants and lush with growth, but not a strong plan.

Most of my plants are perennials, altho I do add annuals for color, and most are shades of pink, purple and white. [Specifically many Shasta Daisies and dark pink Monarda, with Happy Returns daylilies.] I have learned to love the right shades of yellow especially mixed with the purples, so my colors are becoming more interesting. My goal for this garden is to plant in a river of purple to run from a high point just left of the garden shed in the photo to the right and winding down to the extreme left edge of that photo. Last year I planted some salvias and lavendar (which did not survive) in addition to the Japanese iris and older salvias that were already there, so I have a start. It will end in a puddle of Homestead Purple verbena. This spring I plan to shop for a variety of plants and shades of purple to fill in about thirty linear feet of space and [hopefully] to bloom most of the summer. That's project number 1.

Project number 2 is more ambitious. I'll share it with you next time. Happy gardening!

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