Garden, Year Two

It feels like forever since I’ve done a proper garden update, stomach and that’s probably because I’ve spent more time getting my hands dirty out in the front yard than inside writing and editing pictures. This time of year, it’s a serious undertaking to get the garden watered sufficiently while temperatures blaze into the upper echelons of bearable. We’re the only ones on my block without a shade tree, and even though I’ve chosen lots of drought-tolerant plants, even one hot day without water can scorch and kill a lovely plant.

Last weekend at the Mermaid Parade, Joel joked that I’m a little obsessed with my garden, and he is absolutely right. I love it. Even when it’s a million degrees outside, it feels so gratifying to experiment in our tiny little front yard. I’ll never get over that child-like wonder of watching things sprout and grow, and I already know I’ll be gardening until I’m old and grey.

Anyway! On to the pictures. This past week after tweet-promising a proper update, I went back into the garden archive to see the photos from when we first planned the garden last year. I had forgotten how awful it was. HIDEOUS! And then the garden looked like this on July 7th of last year. I was so proud at the time:

And today, here she is:

garden overview

So, yeah. I’d say she’s filled out just a tad over the past year! Of course, the extra-warm winter didn’t hurt, and all the rain we got this spring really kick-started everything into high gear. I’ve already had to cut back our oregano by half – and the butterfly bush that grew to three feet last year is TOWERING over the garden at more than eight feet tall already! It’s starting to flop over and go to seed, so I’ll probably have to prune it soon as well.

A few things have changed in the garden as you can see in the overhead photo below. Zach and I got real irritated with the chrysanthemums last fall when an errant snowstorm came and crushed them. They were originally planted by the previous owners’ estate to cover a huge stump in the front yard when the house went on the market, and they grew out of control last year. We dug all of them up except one, and now they live in pots with all my neighbors. In their place, I decided to plant some annual heathers, which should hopefully fill in the bare spots in the center of the garden rather quickly.

garden overview

We’re also aiming for a lot more flowers in the garden this year. I enjoyed growing zinnia so much last year that I found a company online – Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – which offers loads of heirloom varieties, including zinnias. I ordered several and they’re starting to grow all around the garden. Really excited to see the colors start to appear, especially the acid green one I ordered!

Besides the zinnia, my clematis bloomed for the first time this year – and it was stunning. The yarrow has burst into tiny flowers everywhere, my several varieties of salvia are going through their second round of blooming, and tiny white flowers on the calamintha bring legions of butterflies and happy bees to the garden, which in turn are making the tomato plants really productive. The garden is really starting to achieve the wild look I was going for, and now I think it’s going to be a delicate balance to keep it under control. Instead of, you know, turning into THAT NEIGHBOR.

the clematis! it blooms!butterfly bush
hot pink yarrow
hot pink butterfly bush spikesgettin' wild and crazy

This year, we also decided to plant new window boxes, which I filled with petunias, vines, and other trailing flowers whose name I can’t remember off the top of my head. Next year, I’ll probably try and plan the window boxes a little better instead of grabbing whatever catches my attention on a trip to Home Depot (lame, I know).

In the center window box, I also planted a bunch of freesia bulbs that have begun to sprout — we’ll see how that works out because it’s been kind of a chore to keep all the boxes from frying in the heat. It seems like all our neighbors with shadier front yards have an easier time keeping their window boxes full and beautiful, but in the meantime I’ll just enjoy the color they bring.

new window boxes!

A late addition to the garden last year in early October, I planted two rhododendron that were on sale for cheap and needed a home. And who am I to say no?

Fortunately, they got established before the freeze and made it through the winter as small plants. Early this spring, both plants bloomed quite a fuchsia display and completely justified my decision. I was a bit worried about them since we had a freeze after they’d begun to bloom, but they bounced back and put out new growth quickly. I’d love for them grow tall enough to become a hedge in the back of the garden one day, filling the spring garden with pink blooms!

rhododendron, new growth

And last, but certainly not least, all the sedum are doing exceptionally well in the heat of my front yard. Sedum are close to my heart because my grandmother has many kinds planted in her midwestern garden, and I remember being fascinated by all the different kinds as a child. Every time I see them, I think of her.

Anyhow, we have several varieties planted in pots and in the yard, including hispanicum Blue Carpet, Platycladus, spurium Red Carpet, Sieboldi, spectibile Brilliant, and Angelina. The sedum in pots do exceptionally well, and the Angelina are becoming exactly the funky, textured groundcover I had hoped they would be in the front of the garden. I just want to pet it.
sedum starting to bud

So there you have it! A garden update almost exactly one year later. This week I’ll write a bit more about the edibles and herbs we’re growing. Are you growing a garden this year? If so, link me in the comments! I’d love to see what you’re up to outside this summer.

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