Here’s a look at how my garden has changed in just three summers. If you’re just starting out, I hope this will provide some encouragement. When it comes to creating a garden, it’s so hard to be patient but things really do transform quickly in just a few growing seasons.
I don’t actually spend a lot of time or money in my garden (see How To Grow A Dream Garden On $100 A Year). I’m casual about weeds, frugal about plants, and really just enjoy having a ramshackle garden that attracts a lot of beneficial creatures including bees, butterflies, and birds.
Have a look at the changes (including the fact that I only recently got a good camera!):
Early Spring 2012
The early spring garden looks rather barren from this viewpoint, but if you look at the garden beds you can see some perennials coming up from the previous year. I started this garden from a bare lawn in 2011.
Late Spring 2012
My main goal is to attract the beneficial insects, bees, frogs, butterflies, and birds. And perhaps the cute chipmunks. The squirrels are gate crashers who assume no invitation is required.
I plant a variety of flowering perennials, a few shrubs, several fruit trees and berry bushes, and grow veggies. Plus, I added a small pond to provide a water source for the wild things (it’s not visible in the next photo).
As you can see, the garden really thrived by this time. I didn’t have much time to spend in the garden during this phase but I resolved to move a lot of plants around to have better colour arrangements.
Soon after this photo was taken, lightning hit the walnut tree. The big branches you see over the arbour were almost entirely ripped off.
This next shot gives you an idea of how my shed could glow in the dark (and not in a good way). I recently gave it a makeover so it would stop attracting aliens from other planets: Before and After: Shed Makeover.
This last winter was very long and harsh and wiped out several favourite plants including a wisteria, my beloved limelight hydrangea, and more. This left a lot of gaps in the garden again.
You can see that the big branch of the walnut tree is gone. The shed has been painted. Lots of big plants are missing (from the wicked winter) and I’ve moved a bunch of plants around to make the colours combinations more pleasing (to me).
I would estimate that I started approximately 60% of these plants from seed (indoors under grow lights during winter). You can see my grow light setup here.
There are definintely ups and downs, three steps forward, and some back, but overall, it’s quite a remarkable difference just between 2012 and 2014.
And, of course, it was a totally blank slate in 2011:
The Garden Today
This one minute video shows the wild things have definitely given my garden their seal of approval. It’s a hot spot for so many beautiful creatures—just as I was hoping.