This buzz of spring activity got me thinking about gardening. So, here's your assignment for this Fun Monday. I'd like you to share your thoughts on gardening. Are you a keen or casual gardener? How long have you gardened? Who taught you what you know about growing plants? Do you grow vegetables and fruits as well as ornamental plants? If you had just one container to garden in, what would you grow? What lessons have you learned from gardening? Have you taught these lessons to your children or grandchildren?
Here's the list of Fun Monday participants. Be sure to visit as many as you can to check out their gardening experiences. Scroll past the signup list for my own gardening tale.
1. Mariposa (host for May 18--thanks!)
8. Jill (Corrected link--sorry Jill)
9. Troll Y2K
12. Church Lady
Early Years--growing up in rural Kentucky, I learned about gardening by helping my mother and father grow a garden very much like this one. It was strictly a food garden where we grew enough vegetables for eating fresh throughout the spring and summer and canning for the winter. By late fall the cellar under our house would be filled will canning jars of fruits and vegetables and piles of root vegetables and cabbages. As soon as the ground was dry enough in the spring, my dad hooked up his mule to plow the ground, spread chicken or cow manure over the garden and then disk it smooth (we kids got to sit on the disk to add weight to bust up the clods of dirt) . In the cool spring we planted lettuce, onions, peas, cabbage and potatoes because they needed cool weather to grow well. After danger of frost we planted green beans, corn, and tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. In the fall turnips and greens went into the ground in time to be sweetened by the first frost. Everyone in the family was expected to help tend the garden. If I pestered my dad long enough, he allowed me to plow instead of hoeing after I proved that I could control the mule and plow a straight furrow. I worked in this garden until I left home for college.
First Home--I bought this modest little brick home for me and Zack the Crazy Border Collie. The yard was a mess when I first moved in so I began by renovating the lawn. The goal was to have a green carpet and I achieved that by watching gardening programs on TV and reading horticulture books. I planted the weeping cherry tree in the front yard, holly, and roses. Every hole I dug was full of rocks.
In the back yard I planted my first garden since leaving home for college. Vegetables were planted in raised beds with straw laid between the beds to keep down weeds and make it look nice. I also experimented with growing apples, peaches, and sour cherries on these dwarf fruit trees in the back yard. They actually bore fruit in the time I gardened there. And, can't forget the blackberries and raspberries that I trained on trellises. They produced well and the sweet fruit made the scratches from thorns bearable.
Garden Travel--by the mid-80s I had begun traveling quite a bit and I was always looking for great public and private gardens to visit because I was just obsessed with gardening. I looked and learned how to combine plants, especially ornamentals. I admired both the formal English style of planting like these roses and lavender passages at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. I studied the plantings in famous New England gardens like Wintertur and southern gardens at Calloway Gardens,
Bellingrath, Middleton Place, and Biltmore. I was always looking for new plants and combinations for my own garden. This photo of a private side garden was taken in Nashua, New Hampshire. It is the perfect combination of plant textures and colors with simple garden ornaments like the sun dial, lattice trim,fencing and rock wall.
Garden Shows and Fairs--were perfect places to learn new gardening techniques. I especially became interested in container plantings. The effect you can achieve with a collection of plants can be like a painting.
Notice this window box from the Cincinnati Flower Show. Look closely and you'll see that there's five or six different plants in this one arrangement from upright scented geraniums to trailing vines. This window box planting on the left is my version of the flower show box.
Second Home--I bought this little
place in the early '90s. The house is on a corner lot and has entirely too much lawn to deal with. The real estate agent took me seriously when I told her not to worry about square footage of the house. I needed a place to grow a garden and three dogs. i laid out sweeping beds to connect three large trees in the front yard. All this I planted with hostas, astilbes, and ferns--many varieties of each. The rule of planting is that you must do three of the same variety together so that the bed doesn't look choppy. It's hard to know how many plants were in these beds. I selected and planted all of them.
In the side yard I had island beds dug and planted them will several varieties of ornamental grasses, sedums, barberry, Japanese maple, spirea, and perennials--iris, peonies, daylillies, and columbine. There was always something in bloom throughout the season.Sad Reality--very little of these plantings still exist in my garden. The trees are damaged by ice storms, most of the hostas and ferns have disappeared from under the trees. In the side island bed I have only overgrown ornamental grasses, sedum, daylilies and iris. It takes me three hours to mow the front lawn. Now that I'm retired I want to renovate the garden , but this gardener needs to take a little less ambitious path so there's time and money for other interests--like travel and blogging!