Monday, May 14, 2007

The Accidental Gardener

I can't take credit for some of my greatest garden features. You see, I inherited them. When my husband and I moved into our home in August of 1998, the backyard was covered in grass with the exception of an interlocking brick walkway and a sad little corner set aside for flowers. I would eventually (and very slowly) transform the space to include two large borders on the north and south sides of the yard. A few of the original plants have endured and thrived, much to the delight of my green thumb.

First up, the columbine. They have made themselves right at home in the gravel of my driveway. Columbines are truly spectacular plants. They are super easy to grow. The flowers are complex and fabulous and come in a deep, dramatic purple. Once the blooms have faded, columbines are more than happy to seed themselves, ensuring that I'll always have some. I've often wanted to pick up a few extras at the garden centre but couldn't justify the purchase. Why pay for a plant that is only too happy to propagate itself. As a bonus, the columbine's mounded foliage remains gorgeous for the duration of the summer.

My patch of tall bearded irises has become so large that I think I'll have to divide it after the summer. I inherited a small bunch of irises that never seemed to perform especially well. For years, I was lucky to get one or two blooms. But upon relocating them to a sunnier location and planting them so that their rhizomes were exposed, these beauties really came into their own. They are easily the highlight of my spring garden. After blooming, I cut the stems to the base. The strap-like foliage looks good well into late summer. When it starts to get brown, I just yank the leaves or cut them away.

There's one shrub in the garden that inspires me to proclaim "Yew're terrific." A small yew planted in the south-west corner of the yard has grown into a majestic hedge that blocks the view of our parking spot. Nothing ruins the ambience of a garden like a car. But thanks to the yew, our VW is almost entirely obscured. The yew stands nearly six feet tall and at least that wide. I have never, ever trimmed it. It's got a naturally pleasing form.

I've also got a towering fir. It was a signficant tree when we moved in nearly 9 1/2 years ago. Now it's that much more signficant. Its branches have blocked part of the pathway that cuts through the yard. Everyone has to step off the path to get around it. But rather than touch the tree, I think I'll reroute the path. What a great excuse to finally get rid of the interlocking brick that I have grown to loathe.

And let's not forget the ivy that spontaneously sprouted and started climbing up the side of the neighbour's house. Instead of brick, I get a view of a living wall. The ivy is especially spectacular in fall when it turns a fiery red. I secretly hope the neighbours don't know or care about. They are not plant people (don't get me started about the disaster they call a front lawn) and I fear that they would hack the ivy away.

I consider these the happy accidents of my garden. They're the plants I never got around to yanking or trimming or carefully placing. And what a lucky thing that is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Irena! This is so cool. Congratulations!