Monday, May 15, 2023

My New Garden Project


Greetings! I'd like to share with you my new garden project, which I've been thinking about doing for some time now. (I apologize for the long post.)

I've noticed for some years now that I enjoy the gardens that are closer to my house much more than those areas that are farther away or located in places where I rarely see them. This makes sense, of course, and not just because I'm able to enjoy them more often because they're closer. Also, I remember to maintain them, which is much easier when they're right outside my door, and so they are more successful garden areas -- which are much easier to enjoy than garden failures.... :-)

So, I've been thinking that I might get rid of one or two of my more distant areas, and make better use of a spot in front of my house.

Here's my front yard last summer. My Paradise Garden is to the right, just out of the photo, and there were two rectangles of grass at the foot of my front steps.

And here's the Paradise Garden last July, with the center grass section at forefront. This garden area is pretty easy to maintain.

My Paradise Garden right next to my house is so much easier to maintain than other areas, both because it is close to my house (I can pad out in bare feet and casually pull a few weeds), and because the garden beds are surrounded by paving stones, so nasty runner grass isn't always invading the beds like it does in beds in other parts of my property.

So in late April, I paid my teenage son to use a sod-remover (a manual one that you kick with your foot, which he was able to get the hang of using) to remove the grass in the corner section of my fenced yard (see first photo).

Then, I used a shovel to excavate several inches down, where garden paths would be laid...

...ordered a bunch of pavers, gravel and sand to be delivered, and paid my handy son to help lay the paths. I then began to dig over the planting areas to loosen the soil that had been below the sod.

I'll plant the two triangular beds with annuals this year (probably this week), in case there's still some runner grass in the soil that needs to be eradicated. (I tried to pick out as many roots as possible when digging over the beds--that's what the bucket was for--but I probably missed some.)

I'm hoping these beds will be much easier to maintain than some of my other garden areas. I haven't yet decided what to call this new garden: the Corner Garden? the Diagonal Garden? the Triangle Garden? Hmmm... what do you think?

But I must eliminate some more difficult garden areas in exchange for this new one--that's my rule: any new garden must be offset by eliminating two old garden areas (or a much larger one).

So, I'm afraid I will be getting rid of a garden that hasn't been working so well for the past year or so: the Rainbow Border.

I made the Rainbow Border back in 2012. At first, I tried to plant it in sections with flowers in the order of the colors of the rainbow: ROYGBIV.

Here's a long-distance view of the Rainbow Border back in 2014. The Orienpet lilies made a pretty good show in July, preceded by early June perennials and followed by zinnias and other annual flowers.

After a while, the Orienpet lilies I planted declined and mostly disappeared--I think it's possible that the red cedar windbreak behind the border interfered with their ability to grow in that spot. Some perennials seemed to do better, so I let go of the ROYGBIV plan and mixed up the colors, but still tried to stick with brightly colored flowers in all colors of the rainbow.

This looked pretty good for a few years. Here it was in 2019 and 2021:

Very colorful in late May/early June....

This was a respectable perennial border, even in June of 2021.

But there were some problems with the Rainbow Border: first, it was infested with grass that was impossible to dig out. I sprayed that grass with Ortho Grass-B-Gone, which did help, but I don't think it took care of the problem entirely. And the red cedar windbreak behind it was probably not so good for the plants.

And the border looked OK around June 1st, but looked ratty later in summer, because the annual flowers I planted there never seemed to grow very well.

In mid-July 2022, the border just looked ratty, weedy and blah. Maybe that was just a bad year, but this made me wonder why I still have this border.

The Rainbow Border is a fair amount of work to maintain--which, when it looked good, didn't bother me so much. But hard work and bad results is tremendously discouraging. 

So, I've made the decision to eliminate the Rainbow Border, and move the best of the remaining plants to other areas in my gardens that need additional plants:

This border in front of my house, shown in 2020 after I fixed the edging, still doesn't have enough planted in it. I removed the two large clumps of yarrow/Achillea and moved them to my Yellow Garden, and this fall or next March, I will move many of the Rainbow Border May/June perennials here.

My Yellow Garden behind my house could use some of the yellow flowering perennials from the Rainbow Border.

And my Front Border in front of the white picket fence might look nice with a few of the Rainbow Border plants.

Anyway, that's what I've been working on, thinking about and making decisions about this spring. I'll show the results of my changes over the next year as they occur.

I hope your own gardens are easy and enjoyable to maintain, and thanks for reading about my efforts to make mine easier. -Beth


  1. HELLOOOOOO!!!! It's great to see a post from you, and fantastic news on the new book. Sorry about the business and health woes, and hope those situations continue to improve.
    I so agree about gardens closer to the house being easier to care for. Usually. Out of sight, out of mind seems to be my mode. We have a bed on the side of the garage that is SO neglected. I only see it when I dump stuff in the compost bin and think "someone really should get that weeded" and then totally forget about it. I have a better record keeping up with beds farther from the house that I see from the house. Oh that blasted grass... SO hard to evict. To make matters worse, after being here for 20 years, suddenly I'm battling bindweed the last 2 years. I have to wonder if seeds got blown in with the derecho in 2020. Enough whining about my garden woes!
    Fantastic that your son is helping out, even if only for the pay. Not even money could get my DS to work in the garden. I hope you keep us updated on the new garden progress!

    1. Hi Gail, thanks for reading my post and for all your very nice comments! I hope you're able to make some progress battling your own grass invasion, and enjoying some lovely weather in your gardens. Best, -Beth

  2. Love your gardens! The Paradise Garden is amazing! Last year you talked about using nicotiana and how it self sows and smells fragrant, and I decided to plant an area with it. Beth from DSM

    1. Hi Beth, Thanks for stopping by, and I wish you beautifully scented results from the nicotiana seed in your garden this year. Best, Beth

  3. I always liked your herbaceous border with the idea of planting it with rainbow colours, but can understand why it was not easy to keep it looking good all the time. Moving many of the plants to areas nearer the house is a good solution. The peony in that last photo is beautiful. Photos are a good way to record progress with different projects on your land. I look forward to seeing more this year.

    1. Hi Linda, Thanks for your visit -- I can't wait to see what's happening in your gardens too! Best, Beth