Alwanza Home How To Make Patch Gardens How To Contents Page

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.

To email please see:  contact.cgi if you have any comments or questions about this page.

Authored & created by Meryll Larkin:  6/20/99
Updated:  11/16/09