Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Five Gardens: The Backyard Garden

If I had given the "My Five Gardens" series a little more thought, I would have named it "My Six Gardens." While the Backyard Garden exists in the backyard, qualifying it as one garden, there really are two gardens back there. The perennial borders have been a work in progress for about a decade. The vegetable patch, or the potager, was a new addition this year. The semi-shady border and potager (right next to the car) are visible in this bird's eye view. However, the giant balsam fir obscures the view of the full sun border. As much as I love that tree, it is terribly placed, offering no shade and blocking the walkway. I can't imagine getting rid of it though. Would removing some of the lower branches of a fir make it look too weird?

At this time of year, I let nature take its course in the full sun border. The purple coneflowers and cranesbill are still blooming profusely. A lack of weeding on my part has resulted in some grasses poking through the perennials giving the whole thing a bit of a meadow effect. I can't complain (if I do, I'll be forced to weed!) There's also some calamint and catmint in there, holding their own against the grasses.

One of the last things to bloom in the backyard garden is the Jerusalem Artichoke. The plants reached an astounding eight (maybe even nine) feet tall this year, the tallest they have ever been. I suspect that the wall of the neighbour's home expansion had something to do with it, creating a most hospitable micro-climate. I always feel that the incredibly cheery blooms are a most fitting way to end the summer: in a blaze of glory. Even so I have a deep, dark secret to share about my full sun border (please don't tell anyone): I'm a bit bored with it. Now don't get me wrong. I mean how could coneflowers and iris and globe thistle and delphinium and sedum and cotton lavender and english lavender and lilac ever be boring? They can't. They are and always will be beautiful. But as a gardener I find my interests are shifting. The first time I saw a purple coneflower I was in awe. Now I find myself in awe of shade plants and vegetables.

It took about six months to grow this red pepper from seed. My goodness what a journey. Buying the seed, starting it indoors, transplanting into larger pots, hardening off, transplanting into the garden, and all the while nurturing, nurturing and nurturing. In the end, the pepper was consumed in under a minute. Some garden magazines would have you believe that vegetable gardening is all the rage these days. Maybe so but I didn't simply latch on to a trend. I see my newfound interest in veggies as a natural evolution of my gardening. When I wanted more from my garden than perennials, I expanded it to include edibles. This year I enjoyed radishes, carrots, onions, leeks, tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, serviceberries, potatoes, and beans with brussel sprouts still to come.

That is the beauty of gardening. There's always room for more. I found a spot for these beauties (garlic chives, I think) under the dappled shade of a Japanese Maple. And I can always carve up some more of my lawn (that's some prime garden real estate.) I'll always keep at least one purple coneflower in my garden, but I can give away the dozens of others to make room for something new and exciting. I can grow my own food. When the season is done I can plan to do it again so that all of next year's crops are new and exciting. There's always room to try something different or to squeeze in one more plant. And that's the beauty of my backyard garden.


Northern Shade said...

I like the private seating area you created, tucked in among the greenery. With the shrubs behind, and the ferns and hostas ahead, it makes a lovely retreat.

Connie said...

That is a great overhead view of your garden....where did you have to go to take it?
I wouldn't hesitate to trim the fir to clear the walkway.
Great looking pepper, BTW. :-)

O.I.M said...

hello northern shade. thanks for stopping by. i created the small seating area this season. it's a "secret" garden for my five year old. it comes complete with a trellis entrance covered in scarlet runner beans, just tall enough for little people to fit through. I have to crawl.

hello connie. I snapped the photo from the flat roof at the back of the house. I'm not especially scared of heights but I'm not exactly fond of them either. i stayed well back of the edge. it was interesting to see the garden from this perspective. I really like the look of the shady side, but some more of that lawn might have to be claimed for garden space. a gardener's work is never done.


guild-rez said...

You did a wonderful job creating a garden in different areas.
Love the selection of wildflowers and greenery.
Enjoy your garden.
Thank you for visiting.

Ottawa Gardener said...

I hear you about the yawn. I've been carving out more this year adding a children's garden.

My jeruselum artichokes are up to the roof so that's what? 10 feet?

I can't tell you for sure if your fir tree would look silly. Possibly but it is your garden.