7.14.2012

The last garden

The farmhouse at Pennylane Farm sits in the middle of 5 acres, with orchards and paddocks on two sides, a pasture on the third, and a concrete patio and garage on the fourth.

Over the years, the paddocks gradually evolved from enclosures for animals to open areas of lawn. Fences came down, the grass got added to Dave's lawn-mowing area, and the borders were carved out one at a time, becoming home to things like hostas, hellebores, and climbing vines like wisteria. The filtered shade still allows for my favorite blue and purple bloomers, things like peach-leaved bellflower, bachelor's buttons, pincushion flowers, and phlox. The daylilies took longer to get established, but seem happy there now. The last bit of earth in this garden, and the bit that gets the most sun each day, is now planted with hollyhocks. The patio has turned into a beautiful jungle, with big rhodies and hostas and heather and lavender around the edges, and pots of perennials and annuals and shrubs that separate a table and chairs from a firepit seating area.

I've filled up the space I have, and that's been fine until now. While I was working, I had my hands full with the yard and gardens just the way they were. Some years, I didn't even add summer annuals to the perennials in the patio containers, and was more than content. The gardens were in balance with my life.

But now that I've retired, that's all changed. More time means more gardening possibilities. So, where should I garden next?

It's a bit ironic that of all the places I could grow flowers, the only place that gets full sun is the one place I have no flowers at all. And that's because planting a garden there first required digging up the lawn. That was more heavy lifting than I was ready for. So I enjoyed the grass and views of the orchard, and focused on other parts of the yard.

But now that I've retired and have all the time I need for gardening, suddenly I see all the possibilities of that unplanted lawn. Now when I look at the bare side of the house with no trees or shrubs, no trellis or arbor, no spring and summer color besides green grass, I hear it calling me. And I'm listening.

So over the next few weeks, I'll be making lists of the plants and shrubs I've always wanted to have, but can't grow in my current gardens, things that will thrive on the sunny side of the house. I've collected mulching materials, and this fall Dave and I will design out the border and cover the grass with thick layers of cardboard and burlap bags, then cover it with bark. I've already started to gather perennial seedlings, and will plant what I can in the current flowerbeds this fall, the rest in pots. The plants will grow sturdy root systems over the winter, ready to be moved into the new garden next spring. And I've taken a good hard look at the perennials in my other gardens, and tagged those that would grow much better in a sunny location.

I'll post my list as it evolves, and photographs of the garden as it comes together. I'm excited, and would love any suggestions you might have as I plan this garden.

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