Saturday, June 27, 2009

Where it all began...

Well, maybe not exactly where it began, gardening has always been in my blood. More where it really got going, my first "real" garden. Located outside Hopkinsville, Ky on one square acre about 40 miles northwest of Nashville. Zone 6b, and I hung onto that "b" hard, convincing myself that I was in a little pocket of zone 7. The garden sat in the middle of a 250 acre farm, and the yearly crop rotation cycle (winter wheat/soybeans one year, corn the next) provided an ever changing backdrop to the beds.

When I first began the garden, I was a determined "perennial gardener". Forget those common annuals, I was doing perennials (what folly I realize now). With a focus on daylilies, a heavy focus, probably had 300 varieties. A few shrub roses began to creep into the picture, and I started playing with clematis. But as with many novice gardeners, I really didn't understand the need for structure, for hardscaping to balance the plants, evergreens, small trees, more substantial shrubs to bring form.

I began with a small section along the back fence. That bed with its masses of coneflowers, veronica, lilies and daylilies was at its peak in late June. This coincided with wheat harvest in those years. Making the show just a bit more spectacular with the contrast to the golden wheat.

Next was the back corner with its water garden along the fence. My cat, Machska, loved to watch the fish in the pond. More than one attempt at catching a fish resulted in a very wet cat. The pond had a waterfall at one end and a small bridge crossed the middle, leading to a sitting area by the fence..

This area also taught me a lesson about all white gardens in blazing sun. I have always loved moon gardens, and the cooling effect of a shaded white garden. But here in this spot, the white proved to be glaring. It felt hot, rather than cooling. I will build another white garden someday, but sited in a bit better spot. (oh, another possible advantage of this new shady yard).

I wasn't to be happy until I had completed beds along all fence lines, and the bed building continued for the five summers I lived here. Edited to add: Looking at this post, I just realized that this picture of bed building is the before of the white garden area posted just above. No area was overlooked including the edge of the deck

This was the garden I began to learn to "paint with plants", to pick up the color echoes. Daylilies with their center eye, often make a great starting point.

Of course, all this bed building meant needing lots of plants. Every winter orders were placed near and far - from Heronswood (in the days before Burpee bought them) or Forest Farm to the west down to Plant Delights on the east. Milaegars from the Midwest often made a stop. Bulbs appeared from B&D Lilies, from Brent & Becky. And of course, more daylilies. However, until I went in search of photos of this garden I'd forgotten how much propagation I also did - from seeds, from cuttings shared by cyber gardening friends.

As I build this new garden, I need to re-connect with propagation....I'm getting enough little reminders. First the smell of nicotiana in Chicago, and now this picture. Love the lessons each garden I visit or create have taught me.


  1. I think your gardens are just beautiful!! Nice combos of lots of color and the white one is great!!
    Love the sky in the first photo.

  2. Thanks Janet and Uma. As a very new blogger, getting comments is v. fun! I have always loved that photo of the storm rolling in. The deep blue dark clouds contrasting with the gold of the recently harvested wheat field was just too cool.

    The sad thing about that garden is that within 2 years of my leaving, everything was removed and the lot was grass from fence to fence.