This post first appeared on my old blog in 2010. We had to move from this home later the same year. I still miss my old garden although I’m working on a new one now…
My Little City Suburban Garden
My garden has changed considerably since I originally posted my first virtual tour back in 2003. I initially posted it because I was hoping to see tours of other similar gardens (average, low-budget, do-what-you-can-when-you-have-time, suburban gardens), but could find very few online so I hoped to contribute to the start of a craze.
Today there are lots of garden blogs and lots of wonderful characters who enjoy indulging in both the gardening itself and reporting on it. And, like many, I share my garden not because I think it’s particularly spectacular or revolutionary, but simply because it’s something I really love.
My small lot has three main gardening areas: the front perennial and veggie gardens (which I had never really done anything with until this year), the mostly-shady, long and narrow side garden, and the small back garden which was transformed with the addition of a little pond and larger perennial beds this year.
The Front Garden
The lion fountain is a new addition by the front door. I’m intending to hide the blue water tub but I haven’t found the right disguise yet.
I used to have a larger stone waterfall but some sort of animal was apparently coming each night to take long drinks and kept upsetting the pump. It was a lot of work to continually remove all the rocks to set things right again so I decided to try a simpler whiskey barrel setup this year. So far they mysterious furry night visitor has not dropped by (or left droppings to indicate he dropped by).
The front garden bed was just planted this year. The size of the front beds is limited by a maze of underground cables and conduits which forbid digging, but I’ve got beds in the small areas where I can have them.
My intention for this area is simply to have one wild mass of every-changing colour. So far, so good.
Prior to this I had a small bed with some spring bulbs (which had pretty much lived out their best days) and donkey tails around the infamous, dreaded umbrella tree. I’m normally a treehugger, but some trees are just not worthy–especially the one I had since it turned out to be completely rotted inside!
This sour grapes beard tongue (below) is one of my current favourites, along with how all the sages look together.
The Front Veggie Garden
The veggie garden was just added this year on the other side of the front yard and that little area managed to provide more tomatoes than I could use. It’s in the front yard since that’s the only spot that gets full sun (and who the hell came up with the idea that it’s wrong to have a veggie garden in the front yard anyways?).
Since taking this photo (left), I’ve now expanded the garden by about 25′ and hope to grow enough veggies to donate regularly to the food bank next summer (right).
I grew the tomatoes vertically and used six foot lengths of copper pipe to form overhead supports. I hung twine from the supports and pulled the plants up that way. I picked off the suckers and the plants produced an incredible volume of tomatoes.
By the end of the summer, the plants were so huge, I couldn’t really fit in the veg garden and had to just reach over the rabbit fence to pick things.
Also, amazing but true: I managed to get through the whole season without any rabbits digging into the veg garden. This, ladies and gentlemen, is no small miracle.
The Side Garden
The side garden is very long and narrow. I’m not allowed to dig where you see grass but everywhere else is fair game.
The tipsy pots and watering can at the entry to the side garden add some welcome whimsy. I’ve banned myself from growing annuals since I loathe watering them, so these pots have the ever-forgiving chicks and hens in them for now.
I wrote up instructions for making tipsy pots here.
As you’ll notice, I’m crazy for daisies. I love them next to the blue delphiniums.
The blanket flowers (orange and red) in the foreground were from a seed kit from Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France. They are the only surviving plants from the kit (they said they’d be hardy in zone 5 but everything else was not) and stay in bloom all summer long.
The green arch in the distance is the grape vine which has suddenly become really vigorous. I’ve had to hold several executive meetings to figure out which was to send the new growth.
You can see how much the garden has filled in since this photo (below, left) was taken in 2003.
I built the fence on the left from discarded cedar hedge trunks. I like anything that distracts from the long brick wall.
I’m semi-regretting adding periwinkle below the cedar fence. Next year that might be upgraded to full regret. It takes a lot of time to yank it back from taking over the rest of the garden.
This is how it looks at the entry to the side garden. It’s quite shady most of the day but the sun loving perennials simply lean out a bit to catch the morning sun.
When the daisies and delphs are done, the daylilies, lilies, coneflowers and monkshood take over.
This cedar and copper grape vine arbour are a work in progress. I simply add on as the vine grows.
I don’t have any trees and the garden is always calling out for vertical interest, so I have a lot of vines all around the perimeter of the yard as well as various garden art/junk items hanging on the fence.
This sunface on top of the grapevine arbour makes sure the birds eat all the sour grapes they want.
This little tunnel of shade is most welcome on hot gardening days.
I probably shouldn’t leave this area without mentioning that this is the part of the garden where things seem to grow weirdly. Like these delphiniums with double stalks.
The Raspberry Patch
The raspberries started as a single stalk on the other side of the yard in the shade and quickly made its way to the sunnier side.
This area is quite sloped and unsuspecting visitors have been known to lose their balance and come close to doing headers into the flower beds.
This is my garden tool graveyard where I keep anything I’ve worn right out of service. One day maybe I’ll be placed there too. Don’t laugh: work hard enough and you’d might join me too!
Entrance to Back Garden
Yes, I love arbours and archways. This one was made from scrap beams to form the illusion of a doorway into the back garden. I like how it frames the view.
I’ve got trumpet vine growing on the left side, virginia creeper making its way across the doorway, and hardy kiwi (bright green) filling in the right side. I’m hoping it will all one day form a wall of vine.
I’m using garden junk/art like this old lamp with a globe covered in flat-bottomed marbles to fill in the spots where the strawberries once lived.
The pond is new this year and will be spiffied up with lots of plants around it next Spring.
For years this back area would be flooded with water and was very difficult to work with, but changes to neighboring gardens upstream seem to have helped soak up some of the rain waters leaving me with a workable garden. Finally!
Here’s my sundeck. I used old shutters to create a privacy wall:
Right Back Garden
The other back corner (not pictured) has a storm sewer and attracts gigantic, vigorous weeds. My solution was to plant a bunch of daylilies and run away. Since then, they’ve spread like crazy and I get lots of orange and red flowers like these ones (peaking out of the humongous weeds).
Favourite Back Corner
This back corner is slowly becoming one of my favourite spots. The mirrors make it look well-planted and the blue lobelia is very striking.
Thanks for coming by! I hope you enjoyed my little garden.