Welcome To My Garden

Updated 5/6/97

The pictures on the following pages were shot in my garden in 1995. But I've just uploaded a preview peek of this year's effort.

When I first moved into this house in 1991, the backyard was a wasteland of overgrown weeds and packed clay. But what did I know? I was a city girl. All I saw was green and it made me happy. Until then, my most ambitious gardening project had been to coax some petunias along in a windowbox in Greenwich Village.

In 1992, however, inspired by the floral displays on Atlanta's beautiful residential streets, I decided to see if I could make some flowers grow. With the help of friends, I dug up a small bed and planted a few six-packs of marigolds obtained from a local nursery. To my sheer astonishment, they flourished. I was even more astonished later on when I realized that I had actually done everything wrong on that first attempt: I hadn't amended the soil, I didn't mulch, and I didn't create any borders to block out weeds. I didn't even fertilize! A testament to the durability of the humble marigold! A hardy survivor, it thrived gloriously right through first frost, without illness or complaint, and filled many vases with eye-popping color.

I also planted some shrubs to create a screen between the garden and driveway. To my disappointment, they remained scrawny runts for two years--at least when compared to my vision of 8 foot walls of green which the gardening books promised. (You'll see how they looked in 1995 when you walk through my garden.)

Still, buoyed by my marigold success, I borrowed stacks of books from the library and spent winter's gray, frosty days dreaming of the luscious flowers described in those texts. The garden that next summer reflected my bigger ambitions. To the marigolds, I added red sage, cosmo daisies, zinnias, Mexican heather, and other zesty annuals plus I bought a handful of perenniels. The following year, I again increased the number of varieties and tried my hand at perenniels. (See Note Below on the distinction between annuals and perenniels.)

It took me three years--starting from a knowledge base of zero--to produce the results you'll see in these pictures. I say this to encourage those who dream of creating gardens but think it's beyond your abilities. It isn't. Anyone can make a garden grow. The chief requirements are commitment, planning, and some hard work. The great joy of it is that, unlike many areas of our lives, progress is very tangible and there is a direct correlation between the effort you put in and the results you see--something we can't always say about our jobs or personal lives.

For those of us who love to feel that we will continue to learn, to master new skills, and to grow personally with every passing year, a garden is truly a blessing. The more you learn about the lives of plants, the more you realize how much more there is to know. The harder you work, the more you have to show for it. But perhaps most rewarding of all is finding your own place in your own garden, spiritually and otherwise. A garden is not just a habitat for plants: the gardener grows familiar with the habits of bees, butterflies, wasps, ladybugs, and myriad other tiny creatures. Birds keeps us company, singing and chatting to us, building their nests and raising their families around us. Or, to put it another way: the gift a garden brings is a deeper love for life.

In 1997, my garden will look quite different from what you see here. I've trained vines along every vertical surface, added landscape features, created new beds, and recently laid flagstone paths. I will keep a photographic record right through the fall. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my garden.

The Butterly Will Lead You To The Flowers

Note: An annual lives only one year and is usually easily started from seed. I still buy six-packs or "flats" (trays filled with six-packs) for instant color but I sow a number of varieties. It's a much cheaper alternative. From my perspective, annuals' best feature is that they bloom prolifically for a LONG season. Since they only have one year of life, they continually produce flowers. (Remember, a flower is a plant's sex organ: so to ensure future generations, annuals bloom and bloom and bloom.) Perenniels can live for many years--some varieties will return year after year for fifteen or twenty years. They can also be divided and otherwise increased with simple gardening techniques. So a perenniel is a long-term investment which will reliably produce beautiful displays. Perenniel also produce the showiest and most fascinating displays. The downside is that because they will have other opportunities to reproduce, and only go into hibernation at season's end, most perenniels have only a brief season of bloom (relative to annuals, that is!). Most gardeners interplant annuals among perenniels to fill in colors.

design and copyright © 1997
Gloria G. Brame

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