Friday, July 26, 2013

Now & then - back yard

In Philadelphia, as in many cities based on a grid system, most yards are a rectangle or square jutting back from behind one's home. So, it stood to reason that I'd assume, upon buying my home, that my yard was also a square (insert foreshadowing music here).

Before: My square yard
In the beginning, I was very careful with my flower beds, even extending string to create a line between my neighbors and I so that I wouldn't go over on to their property as I planted. I cultivated this square garden for seven years. In that time, I was able to get one of the three back beds juuuuust the way I wanted it; the others were still very much a work in progress.

Then the property behind us was finally developed, after ten years of threatening to do so, and we found out our yard wasn't a square but an odd zig zag. What was that we used to say as kids? Sike! Just kidding, Kathryn! Your yard isn't a square! The neighbors' kids are going to stand 8 feet from your back door and watch you scratch your butt!

2011 - In between. This photo is from my back door, so you can see how close the new neighbors are. Notice how my middle planting bed is completely bisected. 
After what seemed like months of stomach aches at losing half of my yard and all of that fantastic open green space, I came to terms with it all. It would give me a chance to start over. After all, if I only really liked one-third of my planting beds, I wasn't losing too much, was I?

We put up a fence, partly to block the one the developer put up for the neighbors that wasn't our taste, and partly to gain some privacy.

2011- New fence plus new and old planting beds. You can see the last remnants of the middle planting bed here. 
I was really worried that the fence would make the back yard seem very small and closed in.

I realized though that instead of the fence making the yard seem small, it defined the space and acted as an anchor for the flower beds.

2012 - Tiny new planting bed with my attempt at a curve, and tiny new red-twig dogwood
Last year I focused on assessing what had survived the move from old garden to new and added some plants here and there. Neighbor M kept asking, "You're going to dig out the bed, right?"

2012 - Tiny, straight planting bed
Yes, yes I was going to dig it out, but I had to wait until this spring to get the energy to dig up all of that sod. And when I did, in a frenzy of happiness that it was spring again, I removed about a foot and a half to two feet and created a nice, curved bed.

2013 - I'm not climbing on the roof again for an arial shot so this will have to do. Looking better, still a work in progress. 

2013 - Zig zag. Though the eating area is right next to the neighbors' playset, the fence creates a private oasis for us. 
After seeing how big everything is getting this year (particularly the red-twig dogwood!), my only regret is not digging the beds out further. There is absolutely no room left in the current beds in the back yard.

2013 - Red twig dogwood crowds out everything around it but is an excellent privacy screen. (2.5 inches of rain the night before toppled plants over.)
The only solution is to dig out a brand new planting bed in 2014, assuming I have the energy. For now, though, I like the back yard more than I ever did when it was a large, open square. Even if it's a fenced-in zig zag, I know that it's all mine, and I'm content with the way things are.

2013. A happy jumble of plants.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

I couldn't be happier that it's hibiscus time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2013

Happy July! What a strange year it's been thus far. It's still hot and humid as always, but we've had so much rain that I haven't had to water my garden. At. All. I'm also not facing my usual July slump, in which I'm just totally over this year's garden and want to do nothing more but plan for next year. I'm still hibernating in the air conditioning inside, but will head out early in the morning in the shade to pitter patter about. 

The big show in the garden was earlier this month. The next act is a little quieter and less in your face, and I wasn't sure there would be a lot to photograph for this month's Bloom Day. But then I woke up this morning, looked out my window, and ahoy! Thar she grows! My hibiscus has decided to work with me here and open a show stopper of a flower. And in the process of taking pictures, I realized that there really is a lot in bloom right now. I just have to appreciate the subtlety of it all. 

I also realized that I have no idea what anything is anymore. Between the old garden getting a neighbor's play set built upon it, plants moved about multiple times, tags lost, incomplete records kept, plants not coming back and others coming up in their place - well, this control freak has lost all control in the garden (not that I really ever had it - it was all an illusion). I'm surprisingly okay with it. 

Onward to the photos!

Abeille allĂ©e (aka Bee Lane; more on the rechristened "side yard" in a future post)


Hydrangea. This poor thing gets moved every two years or so and never has enough time to grow
 and bloom before being uprooted again. It also gets peed on a lot. By the dog, not me. 


Rose blooming for the second time this year

So sick of talking about Summer Snowflake, but at least she's behaving now.

Back yard

Zinnia (Cut & Come Again), Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Rudbeckia, Nepeta 'Souvenir d'Andre Chaudron',  Echinacea, Monarda

Coreopsis 'Moonbeam', Echinacea (one of which is supposed to be 'Green Envy' and clearly is not), Zinnia, Monarda

Meadow Rue (about 9 feet tall) from Neighbor M

Kerria japonica blooming for the second time this year

Liatris spicata 'Floristan Violet'

Front yard

Zinnia 'Cut & Come Again', Rudbeckia

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Rudbeckia (it sowed itself in here and I haven't removed it yet)


On the hell strip: Rose of Sharon from Neighbor M, self-sown Callirhoe involucrata, Daylilies

Rose of Sharon

Shade window box on porch with annuals

Sun window box on porch with annuals (with Astilbe in the foreground)

That wraps up another Bloom Day! Be sure to head over to May Dreams to see what else is in bloom in other gardens around the world. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

In bloom this week - July 1, 2013

This is one of the best times of the year for my garden. Walking outside each day makes me very happy.

Winecups, Easter lily, and purple coneflower
Black-eyed Susan and Russian sage
Daylily in my hell strip
Astilbe in front of my porch
Stoke's aster
Marigolds that I grew from seed
Zinnia (Cut and Come Again, I think) that I grew from seed
Clearly the bees are happy, too.