Spring Garden Tour – DIYdiva

For so many of the early years on the farm spring was a daily, relentless battle against grass and weeds. One I almost always lost.

So it’s a bit surreal to walk around the property this year and see a manicured lawn and well-tended gardens.

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Let me just say, the remarkable transformation in the gardens is largely due to my mom. It’s rare for her to show up to the farm without some lilies or hostas or groundcover that she’s divided or transplanted from her own gardens. Almost without my realizing it, she turned the garden around the house into, well, an actual garden and not just a bunch of weeds.

Here’s what the north side of the house looked like my first year on the farm…

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And now…

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First, holy crap have those arborvitae grown. I didn’t realize it until I saw those two pictures next to each other. Also, one of the best parts about this garden is that after a concentrated effort to weed and mulch this bed over the last couple of years, it’s finally gotten to the place where it only required minimal maintenance (and a ton of mulch) this year. That might be the first time I’ve used the term “minimal maintenance” related to anything on this property.

These beds are mostly transplanted lilies, but my mom suggested we add a few coral bells this year, and I love them!

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We’ll likely add more in the coming years, but there isn’t a ton of urgency around this garden because it finally looks good and doesn’t require a ton of work.

As you move around to the west side of the house, there’s a little corner between the hedges in the front and the well established side gardens that has kind of been hit or miss. The little Japanese maple is adorable and I’ve had some luck with saliva in that corner (which the bees love) but still trying to find other plants that work well here.

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One of the other fun and unexpected (for me) additions to the gardens this year is actually this shade/hosta garden my mom started under the pine trees where the hives are…

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This has always been just a straggly little copse of pine trees. The trees aren’t doing amazingly well and in late 2015 I had a bunch of the dead trees cut out of this area, which then left it feeling remarkably bare and unsheltered.

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So in 2016 my mom bought me a birthday tree and some american cranberries to plant in this area to help fill things in again. Then she started transplanting hostas and a few other plants, mostly without my paying attention… and then all of the sudden this year I walked out to check on the bees and realized that while I wasn’t looking my mom turned this whole area into a pretty little shade garden. (There’s also a little part-sun spot on the other side that has some sedum and other bee-friendly flowers.)

The one unfortunate thing is that this garden is riddled with poison ivy (hence the rash my mom got on her eyeball this year), so there’s still some work to do, but I’ve been trying to convince my mom to at least postpone weeding out there until I can order some full-coverage hazmat suits for us off Amazon.

In the meantime, both of us have been busy with the gardens in the back yard. First up, the pergola. Last year we decided to plant an autumn-bloom clematis that’s supposed to spread up to 20′, and I really loved it and was excited to see how it grew up the pergola…

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However, clematis really wasn’t the best option for this (or for full-coverage over the pergola), my grandmother convinced us early this year that we needed to plant some wisteria there instead. So, on of my birthday presents from my mom this year were a couple of wisteria plants that she tracked down at a local nursery…

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The newly-finished arbor over the entry to the veggie garden seemed like a better spot for the clematis, so in one day my mom and I dug out all the grass for the two full-sun gardens flanking the arbor, then dug huge holes around the clematis to transplant it with the least amount of root-disturbance, and then planted the new wisteria.

Here’s how the pergola looks now. I can already tell this really is a better choice over here…

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Meanwhile, over by the veggie garden, this is what we started with…

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We dug out the grass, which was no small feat even with the help of the chickens and the tractor. We also added a little compost and garden soil back in to prep the ground for the new plants…

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Then I dug a big hole to transplant the clematis into, and one of the chickens was like, OH! A BRAND NEW DUST-BATH JUST FOR ME?!

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You’ve never seen a happier chicken…it was almost a shame to move her. But, the plants had to get in the ground, and at the end of the day we had two beds with some beautiful bee-friendly flowers that I’m very excited about…

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My original autumn-blooming clematis is in the back, with a new spring-blooming variety planted in the front. The we put in butterfly bushes, peonies, black-eyed susan, phlox, and some cone flowers and bee-balm that my mom started from seeds.

In all of my years and all of my houses, I’ve never had a full-sun garden where I could plant flowers like this, so I’m beyond excited for these new beds.

But, mostly I’m just grateful for my mom who has a knack for gardening and making the grounds look much prettier and more polished than they would otherwise. I’m not planning to add any new gardens after this, but I can’t wait to see how these grow and mature over the next few years!

A Long Week of Good Things

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