Garden Tour

Click for a closer look.

Welcome to my gardens! I have drawn a simple map of the layout of our rural property to aid in visualizing the location of my garden areas (I think that garden books and articles should always have garden maps). Please refer to the photos of the garden areas below for more detail and links to posts I have written about each area.

Garden Information:
Location: southeast Iowa, Zone 5B
Age: We purchased our five-acre property in 2008 (there is a two-acre field to the west that is not depicted for reasons of scale) and we've been adding garden areas each year since then.
Soil: Heavy clay, with rich black topsoil in undisturbed areas. Alkaline soil.
Challenges: Located on a hilltop surrounded by farm fields, winds can be a problem (however, our small dog largely deters deer).

Thanks for visiting!

1. House:
Our house in spring. It is a four-square farmhouse built in 1924. The kitchen wing on the right is original to the house, but we built the addition on the left in 2011.

2. East Patio and Gardens, Front Porch Borders:
The front porch beds on either side of the middle steps are filled with roses, bee balm, lilies, phlox and mums.
The East Patio is surrounded by beds except for  where it is connected to the other sidewalks at far left in this photo. There are roses 'Lovely Fairy' and 'The Fawn' planted at right (with holly hocks) and the bed at left is filled with annual petunias and self-seeding snapdragons (one of my favorite flowers).

3. Front Border:
The Front Border in spring.

Near the Front Gate in June.

The west end of the Front Border, where I grow
'Pacific Giant' delphiniums.

4. Mint Circle:
The Mint Circle (named because I planted mint there many years ago and cannot get rid of it -- it does smell good though!). Crocuses followed by Darwin Hybrid tulips in spring.

The Mint Circle later in summer, when zinnias or other annuals follow the tulips, which I allow to die back naturally so that they will return next spring.

5. Front Addition Border:
We built a library onto our house in 2011, and extended the flower borders around all three side of the new addition. This is the front or south side.
Nepeta (catmint), marigolds and kniphofia (red hot pokers) in the Front Addition Border in late May.

7. West Addition Border:
On either side of the steps leading into the west door to our addition, I planted mostly blue and white flowers.

8. White Garden and Pergola:
The White Garden is divided into two halves by the pergola, on which are growing white wisteria and clematis. This is the sunny, south half, and the other side is the shadier north half. 

9. West Island:
The West Island, started in spring 2014, is a large, crescent-shaped bed of evergreen and flowering shrubs and trees. This area is definitely a work-in-progress as I wait for trees and shrubs to grow to mature size, and as I add more plants. I'm thinking of adding some pockets of bulbs to flower at the same time as the shrubs and trees. (For more about the West and North Islands see this post.)

10. North Island:
The North Island was started at the same time as the West Island, and is also a work-in-progress. Evergreen and flowering trees and shrubs, including tree peonies, rhododendrons, azaleas and hardy hibiscus.

11. Yellow Garden:
The Yellow Garden in early May. (For more about making the Yellow Garden, see this post.)

Mid-July. We made the Yellow Garden in 2014, when we removed a large ash tree that stood about where the birdbath does in this photo. This area is on the north side of the addition and was very dark before. I wanted to brighten up this area, so nearly everything in the garden is yellow-flowering or gold-foliaged. Still a work in progress, but the progress is continuing.

By mid-August, the black-eyed Susans and marigolds are huge. We found a garden bench to add to the space this summer.

12. North Windbreak with tunnel to Celtic Cross Statue:
This windbreak of cedar trees was planted in the 1960s, and gives us some protection from the cold north winds. It is an L-shaped belt of cedars planted to the north and west of our house.

13. North Border:
The North Border in May. 60 feet long by about 12 feet deep, the border contains alliums and iris in bloom, to be followed by numerous other perennials, bulbs and annuals. (For more about the North Border, see this post, and for my future plans, see this one.)
The North Border in mid-June. Lilies, Shasta daisies, dianthus, mums and hollyhocks are blooming.

14. Peony and Rose Border:
This bed, which contains peonies that predate our ownership of this property, has been a work-in-progress in 2015. The bed, which used to be our main vegetable garden until we made the Kitchen Garden, was simply too big for the number of roses I had been growing here (the rest of the space was a nursery bed of random plants that I didn't know where else to plant). So I moved the roses to the edge of a much narrower mulched bed, and tilled and seeded grass in the rest of the area. Imagine: a gardener decreasing the size of a flower bed -- this is a first for me!

15. Herb Garden:
The Herb Garden in spring, after the annual clipping of the boxwood hedges. Chives, French tarragon, mint, thyme and sage are planted in the two nearest beds, and the two far beds are for annual herbs.
The back half of the Herb Garden in July, with different kinds of basil at left, dill and borage in the right bed, and rosemary in the pot at the center of the garden.

16. East Windbreak with secret tunnel
    (I'm afraid the Secret Tunnel within the East Windbreak is so secret that I don't even have a photo of it.)

17. Rainbow Border:
The Rainbow Border in early May, with a show of the
progression of colors from tulips.

By late May, the progression of colors through the rainbow order can be more clearly distinguished in irises and other late spring plants. The border progresses from left to right: white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and back to white at the far end. This border challenges me to understand more about colors, flowering times, plant heights and companion plantings.

Asiatic lilies, delphiniums and other mid-summer flowers lend color to the Rainbow Border in mid-June.
By September, most color in the border comes from annuals: zinnias, salvias, petunias and marigolds.

18. Windmill:
Our Aeromotor A-702 windmill, probably built in the 1930s, with 'William Baffin' roses.

19. Pond and Four L-Shaped Garden beds:
The Pond Gardens surrounding our small formal pond, which we made in 2012. Buck roses 'Prairie Breeze' and 'Sweetness' dianthus, with 'Bright Eyes' phlox and 'Green Velvet' boxwoods are planted in each L-shaped bed.
The pond with water lilies on the surface. the gazebo and garden shed can be seen in the distance.

20. Orchard:
We removed several fruit trees from the south end of the orchard in 2015; they were planted at the right of this photo and are shown on the garden map, but they produced poorly. There is still a double row of apple and pear trees at the far end of the orchard, near the windbreak at left.

21. Flowering Grove:
The Flowering Grove, where we have planted eight or ten flowering crabapple, redbud and pear trees, in front of three existing maple trees on the south end of our property. We hope the trees will grow up to be a beautiful spring-flowering group.

22. Native Garden:
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), coneflowers, Russian
sage, brown-eyed Susans and other native prairie flowers
have been planted in this small garden bed on the southeast
corner of our land by my husband.

23. Gazebo:
The gazebo on the south end of our property, with knee-high corn behind it. Achillea, clematis, nepeta (catmint) and daylilies are planted around the gazebo. (For more about my dream of owning a gazebo and finally getting one in 2013, see this post.)

24. South Maple:
The maple tree planted on the south edge of our property, near the gazebo, turns a wonderful color in autumn.

25. Old Apple Tree:
The Old Apple Tree was damaged in a windstorm the first year we lived here, in Jul 2008, which twisted and split the trunk. (Note that you can see through the trunk.) It has still miraculously borne apples nearly every year since then, although we've noticed that the trunk split seems to be widening, and we fully expect to see the tree shattered on the ground any day now. It bears absolutely delicious apples (probably related to the original strain of Delicious Apples), so it will be missed.

26. Garden Shed and Surrounding Borders: 
The Garden Shed was probably built before 1920, and may actually have served as a residence, incredibly enough. The pear tree alongside it bears delicious pears. 
I fixed up the inside of the garden shed in 2014 -- it had been filthy with bird poop and dark inside, so I cleaned it out, painted the walls white, the floor brown and the counters green, constructed shelving, organized my garden things and made little gingham curtains to make it cute. Much improved! (The before and after photos can be seen here.)

27. Tractor Shed Pavement and Mock Orange Hedge:
The 80-foot-long hedge of fragrant Mock Orange, planted in 2012. I hope that when it has filled
in, the hedge will screen the Tractor Shed pavement behind it, with its unsightly collection of
farm implements, junk and weeds. 

28. Tractor Shed, East Tractor Shed Border and Fern Border:
The back/north side of the Tractor Shed, with the long row of ferns that were already planted here when we moved here.
The east side of the Tractor Shed, with annuals and perennials planted here in 2015. 

29. Garage Borders (North, West and South):
The front (north) side of our garage, planted with clematis, ligularia, astilbe, hostas, a yew tree and impatiens.

30. Forsythia Bed:
This was the only photo I could find of the forsythia shrub, with the Upper Pasture (#32, which I cut into a maze in 2013 for my children's amusement) and Kitchen Garden at left. The two-acre Fenced Pasture (#33) can be seen behind the forsythia at right. 

31. Cutting Garden, Kitchen Garden and Chicken Compound:
The Grand Chicken Hotel (which we got in 2014) and the Chicken Run are next to the Kitchen Garden. which we laid out in 2012. I use the four beds in the closest right corner for growing cutting flowers. (More about the making the Kitchen Garden in this post.)
The four beds of my Cutting Garden. Perennial flowers are in the far left bed; annuals from seed in the middle back bed; tulips followed by dahlias in the closest bed; zinnias, cosmos and gladioli in the far right bed. Plus I grew glorious sweet peas against the side of my house in 2015. (More about my Cutting Garden in this post.)

32. Upper Pasture:
(See photo #30)

33. Fenced Pasture:
(See photo #30)

34. Lower Pasture and Wildflower Strip:
Between the Fenced Pasture and the drainage ditch next to the road, we planted a wildflower seed mix for butterflies and birds, about 150 feet long by 25 feet deep. We planted it in 2013, and the mix of perennials and annuals has continued flowering for three years, but enough weeds have crept in that we plan to replant it with new seeds in spring 2016.

Thanks so much for taking a tour of my gardens! I hope you will follow my posts as I write about my attempts to improve these areas. Best Regards, -Beth
Image Map