My first garden (Garden 1.0) was on someone else’s property — a duplex with a fenced-in yard and a patio. I may have gone overboard a wee bit. Over the next few years, “a little color” along the patio morphed into a flowerbed that covered maybe half the yard.
Garden 2.0 was literally an overnight success. The last load from the duplex was a pickup truck filled with shovels-full of plants I wanted. Good thing. The landlord mowed everything the very next day. I planted the truckload of blooming plants late that night. The neighbors were amazed next morning.
Garden 2.0 was also my introduction to plant and seed catalogs. Not since the Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalogs of my youth had catalogs generated so many wish lists. Unlike Christmas, garden catalogs come twice a year. The only limits were my budget, available space, and Kentucky’s climate.
Every spring and fall, a steady stream of seed, bulbs, corms, tubers, bare roots and live plants flowed into the garden. I couldn’t get enough. To satisfy my insatiable desire for plants the rest of the year, I hit garden centers every weekend. Space was fast becoming an issue when I moved to Washington DC.
I tried, but gardening in my DuPont Circle apartment wasn’t possible. There was too little light for house plants and anything on the balcony choked on the traffic grime. Planting and stocking a 55-gallon aquarium was enough to prevent withdrawal.
Eighteen months later, I moved to Athens. My first Georgia home was less about the house than the huge yard. Garden 3.0 was to be my crowning glory. We’re talking walking trails, ponds, waterfalls, and secret rooms.
I went hog wild. No more lusting for plants that wouldn’t survive Kentucky winters. Nor was running out of space an issue. Within a few years, I acquired more than 600 varieties of ornamental plants — excluding no telling how many lost to drought, deer, and other pests.
Weeding, mulching and other chores were more than I could handle. Nor could I afford the full-time work crew I’d need to stay on top of things. So I became a slave to my garden, working from sunup to sundown whenever possible — until I burned out.
Eight years ago this month, I moved to a smaller house on a much smaller lot. Buying every plant I fell in love with was no longer possible. There’s only room for a few favorites. Choosing from among many favorites is the challenge, so I’ve stuck to annuals and short-lived perennials.
Gradually, things changed. Mostly I removed things — two magnolias, a pecan, a gardenia, two loropetalum shrubs, several boxwoods, rosemary, and chunks of lawn.
The difference is mostly apparent in the before pictures (top) and the current pictures (above) which are also the before pictures for the coming season. Stay tuned.