This is my annual update sharing a walk around my home garden here at the Empress of Dirt World Headquarters in Ontario, Canada. There are plenty of new projects underway and the beautiful blooms of summer are starting to burst open. I’ve got a lot of photos to share, so please be patient while they load. Or, go make a cup of tea and come back and enjoy them.
Home Garden Tour Annual Update
I posted my first home garden tour somewhere around 2002 on a blog that no longer exists. I remember scouring the internet, which didn’t seem to take long in those days, hoping to find photo tours of home gardens. Coming up empty, I started posting images of my own garden and local summer garden tours.
All these years later, I still like to capture my garden as it is at least once a year for my own reference. I hope you enjoy it too, of course.
To see how the garden looked when I started in 2011, click here.
My garden has super-sandy soil. This means some plants spread like complete maniacs—daisies, evening primrose, bee balm/monarda—and, others, quite mysteriously, vanish without a trace. Poof. You may notice in the photos that I have a bunch of bamboo sticks in the garden beds. This year I’m marking certain plants to see if I can determine which ones disappear. I want to crack the case! It’s no big deal in the great scheme of The Wonderfulness of Having a Garden: just a puzzle to solve. As I have said before, it’s really not about the garden itself, but the process of being in it, while things grow, change, and transform, that makes it wonderful. Healing. Therapeutic. Encouraging. Intriguing. Enjoyable. And all that.
My Empire of Dirt
I took these photos after it rained. It’s early for many of the flowers, which won’t burst open for a couple of weeks yet, but there’s something about the green-fulness of this stage that I love. Perhaps because it contains so much anticipation, yet it’s still fairly calm.
I have several projects underway, as you’ll see. I don’t really like to leave things half done (perhaps to a fault), but I make exceptions when it’s worth waiting for free materials to find me.
Ok. Let’s walk around. The first photo (below) shows the view from the screened patio. Keen readers may notice the new circular bricks and brickwork along the edges of the garden beds. I found these bricks buried in other parts of the yard (another symptom of sandy soil—things gradually sink!) and thought they would look great by the patio. I’ll share the whole project when it’s ready. I still have to find more (free) bricks to finish it.
Here’s the garden in 2011:
Here’s June 2017. The shed did not move. I just photographed from a different vantage point.
I’m debating which creeping thyme to plant between the bricks. All in good thyme.
Okay. Let’s walk around.
The blue ladder is the same paint colour as the shed door. One of my daughter’s chose it and it has become the theme colour for the garden.
Good to know the frog population will be growing. Ahem.
This next photo shows the pond I installed last year. I did not give it a spring clean-up because the frogs were mating early and I didn’t want to disturb the 100,000 tadpoles. Then, after getting the water clear (using the Empress of Dirt method), I accidentally dropped a flower planter into the water, spilling the soil. Oy! Now, when it rains, the water gets murky until the soil settles again. Silly, Empress. But, the fish and frogs are happy and healthy, so all is well.
The floating planters (free instructions here) in the pond offer shade and hiding spots for the fish.
This junk art door came from a roadside find.
The delphiniums (below) really like this spot so that is where they will stay. It took a few tries as they did not like the sandy soil. Now that it’s loaded with compost (and holds more moisture), they are much happier.
My mini greenhouse (made from roadside free windows a few years ago) needed a new roof, so I opted for a thrifty green roof. The slope is so steep that it would have been a nightmare to build a permanent green roof structure so this frugal idea seemed like a good solution.
I knew trailing annuals would have been best, but I couldn’t find any at a good price during planting time, so I went for sale begonias, coleus, and petunias. It’s growing on me.
Next, we are by the black walnut tree, which is squirrel and chipmunk central.
This next photo shows the back corner by the shed. I have my asparagus here and many pots of tomatoes and other nursery plants I’m keeping until they have a place ready in the main garden. I used to weed the area and then one day came to my senses. Life is too short to fret about weeds in the back corner, don’t you think?
The ground around the shed is dominated by black walnut tree shade and roots, so, if anything grows happily, I leave it. There’s a peony that was there when we moved here and I’ve left it, although it just gets two leggy blooms each year. I’ll eventually move it to a better location and let it have its day in the sun.
On the other side of the shed (below) is the site of our former swimming pool. RIP. Now I have a sandy hole and no clue what I’m going to do with the area other than ignore it for a while and hope it magically fixes itself. Debris from the trees made it impossible to keep the pool clean, so that also rules out adding a pond. And it’s too dark for a greenhouse. So, it shall wait. So far, it’s very good at growing weeds.
We always have huge numbers of bees (many species). This year I’m also seeing a good number of butterflies. Five years ago, it was Monarch-mania. Then the die-offs happened, and I’d see just a few each week. So far, this year looks promising for better numbers. No photos. Just a note so I’ll remember this.
Here a bee is going deep for nectar:
My obsession this year is groups of three. These pots are old sap buckets. I spray painted three and let three of them rust:
The raised bed with privacy wall was added last summer after I built the pond. It’s been great for better privacy, weather protection for the plants, and more garden art display opportunities.
There is an espaliered apple tree in the raised bed (below). I installed guide wires, though I’m undecided about how much I want to train or prune it. I don’t like things to look too tamed, as you have probably surmised. Other food sources in the garden include several dwarf apples, a cherry tree, currants, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and veggie crops in the other raised beds.
I grow strawberries in containers around the garden but it has become evident that the chipmunks love them as much as I do. The new plan is to start them outside and then continue growing them in the screened patio. The chipmunks do find their way in there sometimes but it’s a slower theft system.
This is the view from the house:
These final photos were taken from my favourite, mosquito-free resting spot on the screened patio.
I’ve got the seed feeder for the goldfinches (and friends), and the hummingbird feeder. I do enjoy sitting on the porch swing, watching the birds go about their business.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. It’s not an award-winning, gobsmacking garden. Just my little piece of the world. With July on the way, it will be a whole different colour show in just a few weeks.
If you have garden pictures or creative outdoor projects to share, you can post them any time on the Empress of Dirt Facebook page. We would love to see them.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛