When my husband and I bought our own house, it was an older one. The
existing garden consisted of a weedy lawn and overgrown bushes whose
main purpose was to obscure the house from the neighbors. After weeding
the lawn and cleaning up debris under the bushes I wanted to do something
to make the garden more interesting, to break up the flat ground and the
straight lines. I had neither enough land nor budget for real landscaping,
but I found a way to enhance my garden by creating little garden patches
that can be followed all the way around the house.
In the largest, flattest, and sunniest area of lawn we added soil to create
a tear-drop shaped mound and planted it with herbs. Our original
intention was to make a patch of ground cover, but when I saw the
creeping thyme I couldn't resist... I purchased many varieties of creeping
thyme, fruit-bearing strawberries, upright thyme, lavender, rosemary,
chives, oregano, winter savory, marjoram, and chamomile. They bloom in
overlapping succession from midspring throughout the summer. The low
plants are the ones closest to the eye and the taller plants are the ones
'in back', but not completely. We have a couple of fingers and patches of
the taller plants (upright thyme and chives, for variety) towards the
middle and front of the patch. To this we embedded one large rock and
planted around it. This patch gets the most attention and compliments
from neighbors. I weed it frequently and have the added bonus of
harvesting fresh herbs for salads, soups, and drying.
On the sunny side of our fence we planted honeysuckle and grape vines,
interspersed with well-pruned (it needs it) tree mallow.
Around the back of our wooden fence we tore up a small patch of sod,
added soil mixed with horse manure (supplied by a friend with a horse)
and planted 3 different varieties of periwinkle (vinca): common,
wine-colored, and the larger variety; and forget-me-nots. The blues and
purples vibrate intensely together and fit well in this tiny patch of shade.
Around the side where there is direct sun half of the day I pulled up
another small patch of sod and planted shade-tolerant herbs and leafy
greens for salads: black stemmed peppermint, anise hyssop,
cilantro/coriander, Italian parsley, butterleaf lettuce. Of all my planting
areas I found this one to be most damaged by slugs (they love cilantro) so
after trying many other remedies with partial success, I surrounded it
with a strip of 5' by 3/32' copper flashing. Slugs don't climb on copper,
although they will climb on grass covering copper, so I keep the surrounding
grass very short.
I have a solitary bulb of fennel growing tall in a corner....
Around back where there is a cedar tree and dappled shade, I planted
'understory' plants: a couple of ferns (I selected them for cutable fronds
for indoor bouquets), columbine, Solomon's seal, toadlilly and other
lillies.... This is my untouched corner. I let this area get long and
wild looking. It is like having a tiny piece of the woods in my backyard.
I keep the bird feeder near there.
One last little garden is my outdoor seedling garden. It gets sun most of
the day. It is slightly raised and separated by bricks from the surrounding
area. I use this area to germinate seeds and to plant cuttings temporarily
until I have prepared their permanent spots. This is the place where I
first bring seeds I have collected from long walks in the park, or cuttings
given to me by friends.
My next project is a small raised vegetable garden outside the south-
facing dining area window. It will also be surrounded by copper flashing
and I will be planting tomatoes, sunflowers, and leafy greens.
My husband, my friends, and I all enjoy meandering from one side of the
house to another, picking, sniffing, tasting, and looking from one little
garden to the next.