Bitten by the Garden Bug

When my first ex and I moved into a duplex back in the late 1980s, the yard wasn’t even a factor in our search. The previous tenant must have had a big dog or two, as the fenced in back yard was more mud than grass–especially the perimeter. I planted a few impatiens around the patio and tossed flower seed, purchased for ten cents a pack from the Ben Franklin Five and Dime store, along the inside of the fence. By summer’s end, I was hooked on gardening.

The realtor who helped me find my first home said I bought the yard I wanted and took the house that came with it. For my first Georgia residence, I focused more on the house, but the yard was still a big factor. Over the next fifteen years, I added more than 500 varieties of perennials, shrubs, and trees to the acre lot until blazing heat, high humidity, years of drought, and avaricious deer caused me to throw in the trowel. I quit watering the garden or adding new varieties, and was surprised that so much of what I’d planted survived.

When I started looking for a new place last fall, low maintenance, inside and out, was my number one priority. I don’t have time for a garden. The yard needed to be small, with a fenced in area for Toodles. I fell in love with the house. That the yard was so nice and surrounded by a tall privacy fence was icing on the cake.

The other day I went by the old house. The six Daphne odorata twigs I planted along the front several years ago are three feet tall and covered with fragrant blossoms. Half a dozen varieties of camellias are in full bloom, along with Helleborus orientalis and clumps of daffodils. I realized as I gazed upon the fruits of my long-ago labor how much having a flower garden means to me. I may not miss the work, but I very much miss the results.

My original plan was to wait until fall to think about doing anything outside. By then I’d know enough about the various microclimates to have a better idea about what to plant where. Waiting would also give me time to figure out which of my many favorites would make the cut. With an acre to work with at the old house, I could always find a spot for a new favorite. The tenth of an acre I have now leaves little room for error.

Before I can do any serious planting here, I’ve got some drainage issues to fix. Despite the dry creek bed installed by a previous owner, any rain at all turns the back and side yards into wetlands. Adding another tributary or two to the existing drainage plan should solve the problem. But that’s a lot more work than I want to do, and I don’t want to pay someone to do it until I finish paying for all the furniture and flooring for the new house.

Between the drainage issues and the small lot, I’m thinking the services of a professional landscape designer are in order. That, too, takes money that I’d rather not spend until I zero out my credit cards. Waiting until fall was fine–until I went to the house and realized how much I missed my flowers.

I’m sticking with my plan to wait until fall for permanent plantings. But in the meantime, I intend to fill the existing beds with annual flowers and some vegetables. At least that way, my body and soul will be nourished over the summer from the temporary gardens I plant here in…

My Glass House