Welcome to gardening week at MarthaAndMe. We just had a ton of work done on our gardens and I thought I would share it with you in pieces. First, I have to say, yes, we had help. After years and years of struggling with weeds, messes, sore knees, and absolute frustration, we have given in and hired someone to clean up our gardens each spring. And it has made such a world of difference. He comes in with no mercy and weeds, trims, chops, mulches and edges my gardens within an inch of their lives and it gets done in a matter of hours instead of Mr. MarthaAndMe shouting at each other in the backyard for
three weekends in a row. So, Martha, I completely understand your gardening “staff,” even if mine comes for only a few hours once a year!
Next, I have to share that when we bought our house 12 years ago, it had NO landscaping. There was one garden by the road with some evergreens and a couple of shrubs. There were ancient 40 year old shrubs around the house that were all stem and no green. And that’s IT. The circumference of the yard was also giant old evergreen shrubs that were all stem and were out of control. Most of those came out when we fenced our yard.
Every year we’ve been trying to work on a bit more to get it looking decent. We are at the point now where I am no longer embarrassed by my yard, which is a huge improvement!
#1 Front of house. A few years ago my brother-in-law brought his pick up truck over and used it to pull out the ancient shrubs that were planted around the house. My dad went with us to the garden center and helped us pick some new things. It’s in really good shape now since it has had years to grow. The hydrangea is in front of the window. To
the far right you can see the edge of the wisteria which has been blooming for a couple of years now, but wants to grow up the house like a vine.
#2 This was one of our biggest disasters. There are old lilacs along the property line here and each year we started cutting them back a bit. Eventually there was enough open space for a bed. We tried to make one ourselves, and it filled with weeds. Finally, our lawn guy put a weed guard down and now it is finally weed free and I am trying to grow some ferns, peonies and some other things in here. I hope to add a few things to it each year.
#3 is a continuation of #2 towards the backyard. This was more overgrown
lilacs. Amazing Garden Guy cut them all back, ripped out the tons of weeds that were under them and mulched. Suddenly we have all this space where we can plant things. It’s a gorgeous new area I need to figure out what to do with.
#4 is on the other side of the fence from #3, in the backyard. The sticks in the corner are actually from a hibiscus plant that has quite a story. When my great grandmother Rose passed away, seeds for this were
found in her Bible. No one knew where they came from. My great Uncle Bill planted them in his yard. They grew into a beautiful hibiscus with pink flowers. He dug some up and gave it to my dad, who in turn a few years ago, dug some up for me. Last year we had to move this when we built an herb garden, and I am relieved to see some green shoots coming up from it. This plant means a lot to me and somehow connects me to a woman I never knew. Also in the photo is a rhododendron which I am hoping will grow. We tried two of them in the front of the house and couldn’t get them to grow there.
#5 is a continuation from #4. Here you can see that we’ve planted an apple tree (fingers crossed! We also planted another elsewhere in the yard for cross-pollination). I am hoping it will provide some shade for the lilies of the valley and tiger lilies that are growing there. These used to grow in the weeds in this area and we managed to keep them when everything else got ripped out. They need some shade though, so I am hoping this tree will do it. We also planted a butterfly bush I am hoping will survive!
#6 is along the back of our deck (we have an awning with screens that attach to it – that’s what you’re seeing on the deck – it gives us an extra room in the summer). We had the deck built the first summer we lived here (there was a tiny concrete pad only before that). This garden suffered a disaster from Garden Guy though. He had his kids helping him and one of them uprooted my big beautiful clematis vine, which grew up the side of the deck and along the posts. There are still some shoots in the ground and we are hoping it will come back. It took me YEARS to get this to grow. It started next to the garage and never really took off there. We moved it to the back and it was happy and grew. I’m really, really disappointed that this happened, but he has promised to replace it if it does not grow back. Sigh.
#7 We tried for years to get things to grow next to the toolshed. The problem was that this area would flood every spring. Finally, we had drainage tile put in and it solved the problem. Now I finally have a cute garden started here. The two shrubs are new. I put in hostas last fall that I split from some big ones I had growing elsewhere.
#8 This is my favorite garden. It’s right outside the windows at the kitchen table area (they are to the left of the little window you can see which is the bathroom), so every morning when I eat breakfast, I look out onto this garden. Last fall we planted bulbs here and
they all came up. It made me so happy to be able to see those early flowers every morning. We’ve added a shrub and some flowering plants here. The vine came from my dad and it makes orange flowers. It has really filled in nicely over the years and we essentially built this garden around it. The birdhouse was made by my son.
#9 This is in the front of the house, next to the driveway. This area used to be a mess for years and years. It was always slightly lower than the driveway and the neighbor’s yard, and would be a giant mud puddle all spring and then a dust bowl all summer. The basketball net stand used to be stuck in here and my son used to have toys all over this area. Finally we built it up into a bed using bricks to enclose it and hold the dirt in. It was a miracle! My dad let us dig up some of the green ground cover plants and those have spread nicely. I also transplanted some lilies of the valley from the backyard here. Towards the road there are black eyed Susans, also from my dad, that bloom in late July or early August. This is one of the fullest and lushest gardens of all and it makes me happy every time I pull in the driveway.
#10 This is the newcomer on the block, my herb garden! We used to scratch around in the dirt next to this side of the deck but then last fall had some dirt put on it to make a real bed. I planted parsley, thyme, chives, oregano, basil, rosemary, mint, sage, and cilantro. I wanted dill, but could not find any plants, so I bought some seeds I may try to start. This is right next to the steps from the deck, so I can pop out from the kitchen and get what I need while cooking. I’m so excited about it! I’ve grown herbs in pots for years up on the deck and am happy to finally have a designated area for them.
What I want to stress is that what you are seeing in these pictures is the result of 12 years of hard work. most of which we did together (imperiling our marriage every time!). It took forever to get to this point and it looks fantastic (finally) in these photos, but for years I despaired about the ugliness of my yard. If you are struggling with an ugly yard, keep working at it, one piece at a time and you will finally, finally get there if you are persistent. And I highly recommend hiring an amazing garden guy for a few hours once a year to come in and bring tough love to your garden. I never would have put down weed guard (didn’t even know it existed) and I would never have been so drastic with the lilacs, but it had amazing results!
That’s the end of today’s tour. I have some more posts coming later in the week with some more gardening things, so stop back in!
We have never hired anyone to help with our garden but there have been MANY times when I have wished for someone to come and help. Your garden looks so good. I love all the grass and the borders. Can’t wait for your next post. Oh! And I love that you have a porch. I would love one of those!
Our porch needs work. It is actually coming off the house and the cement is crumbling. That’s on the list to be redone sometime in the future. We have not used it a lot in the past since it faces the road, but also because the dogs bark and bark if we go out there without them. Mr. MarthaAndMe has rigged up a gate we can put over the stairs that keeps them on the porch now so maybe we will use it more often. We eat dinner on the back deck most nights in the summer.