I have been gardening here in Charlotte for 16 yrs. When we moved into our home, the yard was an utter disaster. There was nothing but some ivy growing around and up the trees. Since then, I have been putting in new garden areas, usually one a year.
There is so much involved in putting in a new garden. The ground needs to be tilled, compost & manure added. Here in the south, with the clay, I also needed to add Perma-til. Perma-til is ground rock that helps to loosen the soil, letting the roots spread out. Then it needs to be tilled at least once, and probably twice more!
Then you have to decide on a color scheme, just like in the house. As a matter of fact, I think of gardening much in the same terms that I think of decorating. Color & contrast, complementary colors, layering leaf textures. Plus you have to think about light & water needs of the plants. So…I decided to keep a garden journal. This is the way that I keep track of what plants I use, what their size and bloom time will be, and what the watering needs are.
Here is a section of my mature front garden. This is where the lonely ivy covered tree was. That majestic oak is still here, creating a space for this lovely shaded garden. It has filtered light throughout the day, but mostly in the morning.
Above is an early pic in the binder of the side garden.
It was early on, and the neighbor’s cherry trees were young, as were our crepe myrtles. We did not have the retaining wall installed yet. It was colorful, but every time it rained, the soil washed down the driveway.
Now it is beautiful in all seasons. The azaleas and iris in the spring, hydrangeas & hostas in the summer. And in the fall the entire garden is cloaked in color!
However, this garden was the second one I put in, so it has taken awhile and is still evolving.
Gardening is my passion. And I do spend a lot of hours ‘playing’ in it. But to me it is not work. It is sometimes instant gratification, such as pruning or weeding. But waiting for the perennials to mature takes patience. I plant annuals to fill in spaces and add color, because the perennials have a shorter bloom time. But when shopping for perennials, I look for a longer bloom period. For me, it has to be at least a month.
I keep my flower pallet to blues, purples, pinks & whites. I throw some yellows in where there are dark shadows. I try to pull the colors from one bed to another, so there is not a sharp contrast when you turn a corner, or go through a gate. I use sculptures to add interest. I also hang small chimes from the trees, along with a bluebird feeder. I only feed the other birds in the winter, because I choose my plants with the birds, bees & butterflies in mind.