A Little About My Gardens, Past and Present

great-grandfather
My son and his great-grampa, 1978

I recently read a blog post where the writer explained about her backyard garden.  She included photos and her plans for each area of the outdoor space.  You can read it at the Hairytoegardener’s blog.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I lived on a hill overlooking my grandfather’s huge vegetable and flower garden.  I remember him always there, working in the garden (except in winter of course).  I can still picture him jiggling along with that old rototiller digging up the earth.  I wish I had run down and helped him do what he did, because I could have learned first hand how to be a successful grower of fabulous fresh vegetables.

I think he liked the solitude of gardening, so I would have been an unwanted pest maybe.  But as I recall, my grandfather was always kind and enjoyed us kids being around.  I think he could have taught me a thing or two about gardening.

Grampa's garden
The Field and Garden – after Grandfather was gone

Anyway, I never really got into gardening mainly because I had children who took up all my time. I presently have a 40 year old son, a 19 year old son, and two more in between. The most gardening I have done over the years were in my big Florida yard, where I planted everything tropical I could get my hands on, and in New England where I truly enjoyed digging in the ground.

I’ve lived at 16 different addresses. Some of those for only a very short time. In fact, one address was merely wishful thinking. I never actually had the chance to move in, but my items were there for a few weeks. The condo I was about to rent flooded from a burst pipe, and it was necessary to find an alternate place to live – temporarily.

I’ve spent many of my later years in survival mode, and that means I didn’t get to even think about such frivolous things as gardening.

But, when I had the chance to allow my mind to dream of a backyard full of flowers and blooming trees, and an herb garden, and picking ripe tomatoes, I worked relentlessly to make it happen. A lack of land restrained me somewhat, but in the first home, which was all my own, in New Hampshire, I planted in every available sunny spot I could find.  I did it all by myself, and I had a beautiful spot to enjoy.

backyard garden
My New Hampshire Backyard & Gardens

However, before that home, I had another New Hampshire home. It was the last place I lived.  Really, those were the last days of my life.  At that time, I lived more like most of the population. I was a normal person. And my husband (now ex) and I bought a house with land..!!!!… that had a wonderful array of gardens and ornamental trees, with a gorgeous forsythia hedge by the road.   In spring, I saw the tulips and daffodils pop out of the earth… imagine!  There is none of that in Florida.

Immediately I began to study the New England plant varieties and saw my yard becoming even more stunning as I planned to include more and more new shrubs and trees over the years.   In the two summers I lived here, I expanded the garden, adding a block pathway, bird feeders and bird baths.  There was an asparagus garden – I’d never had that before – and we saw black bear, turkeys and deer in the yard.  There was even a wisteria growing over a backyard arbor (not in the photos).  Yes, I could have lived here for the rest of my life, but two years later we were gone.

tulips and forsythia
Forsythia and Tulips, Spring at my first NH home
backyard garden
New Hampshire 1st backyard – photo taken from a skylight on the 2nd floor

When I write about my first NH house, it’s like I am talking about another person’s life. It was only 12 years ago that I lived here, but it seems like 100.

Today my yard is small and my house is surrounded by St. Augustine grass which grows like thick vines intertwining with itself.   This makes it incredibly difficult to remove – if I wanted to plant a garden.  Instead I have chosen a raised bed to grow vegetables (hopefully).   The plantings in the yard are simple and easy to care for as this was a home owned by some wealthy people who rented it out over the 12 years they owned it.  There is even a sprinkler system.  It’s a self-sufficient house.

So I have begun yet again to try to establish a beautiful yard. Except now I am older, and struggle with a disease that saps my energy. The gardening bug, once installed in our DNA, is impossible to ignore. My mind says “it’s too hot here, give up and just be at peace with the yard as it is”.

But my heart calls me to don those gloves and go out and dig!  Collect seeds, experiment with new plantings, take clippings and see if they will root and become new plants on their own.

The old dreams of a beautiful garden in my backyard are gone, but I feel good about the fact that when I had the chance, however fleeting the opportunity, I made the best of it.  I’ve left some great gardens behind.  I guess it was my tiny contribution to the planet.

Still, I can’t stop.

Pictures of My Backyard Raised Bed Tomato Garden

large fabric raised garden
The Bigger Fabric Garden
raised bed with tomatoes
The tomato bed as of mid-July

Here are two (before and after) pictures of my backyard gardens. I planted 4 tomatoes in this fabric raised bed back in June. I added a few basil plants and radishes around the edge. As you can see, by mid July they are growing like crazy. I haven’t eaten any tomatoes yet, they are still green. I have one red grape tomato that I will probably eat tomorrow and that means there will soon be more that are ripe. All my fabric raised beds are doing well except for the potatoes, but I don’t know if they are just ready to be dug.

The potato stalks look like they are dying, so I hope when I dig down into the bag I will find potatoes worth eating. Those little turd bugs got ahold of the leaves while I was away for 10 days.  My carrots don’t look too good either.  I haven’t grown carrots for many years because I never had much luck with them getting large enough to use.

My concrete block raised bed is also doing well.  I have zucchini in that along with a couple of grape tomato plants.  I just ate boiled zucchini for breakfast!

Early Spring In My New England Garden

Here are some pictures of what is growing in my New England garden this time of year. April is early Spring and planting anything outdoors that is susceptible to frost, in this area, is not advised until at least late May. These are the perennials that are blooming or just beginning to grow.

Did you know that chives will come back each year?  I’ve already used some in my cooking, and the clump is looking good already.  I need to get parsley soon.  That has become one of my favorites for the garden, and it can take the cold.

The peonies and bleeding hearts are sending up shoots and the hostas are just pushing through the ground.  The Coral Bells kept many of it’s leaves and new ones are growing from the center.
Not much is happening with my hydrangeas yet, but the macrophyllas seem to be starting with leaves and growth more so than the paniculatas.
I had wanted this to be a slide show, but as usual, I can’t figure out how to make that happen. It seems that even though I use WordPress for most all my blogs, each theme works differently and I can’t see a slide show option for this one.
So enjoy the big photos instead.

lenton rose bush
Lenton Rose
chives
chives
Peony
Peony
perennial coral bells
Coral Bells
early spring flowers
Spring Promise “Emma”

I have some Blue Flower Pictures at a previous post.

Time To Plant the Hydrangeas Folks!

Hydrangea shrub in pot
Endless Summer Hydrangea

Finally — it’s hydrangea planting time!  I’ve been waiting for the local nurseries to have their hydrangea shrubs out for sale and it seems that they all get them in and ready to go just before Mother’s Day.  So this week is an excellent time to shop for hydrangeas.

This is the first time I have bought the plants myself.  My yard is in desperate need of landscaping and color is a must so I hoped to find a variety of colors to choose from and I was not disappointed!

I bought six hydrangea plants at The House By The Side of The Road in Wilton, New Hampshire and I only stopped there (at six) because my cart was full!

They offered a wide selection with many plants to choose from in each group and most all of them looked very lush and healthy.  I expected to pay a lot since hydrangeas are popular flowers, but the pricing was reasonable I thought and ranged from $29.99 to $36.99 each and they are good size plants.

I have a lot of shade in my yard, but fortunately hydrangeas can take the shade – as long as they do get some sun.

I bought some bone meal and compost soil amendment at Agway and headed home to get planting.