Today I have been asked to do a guest post for Kathy at A Delightsome Life for her Summer Series' How do they do it' so I thought I would share a little information on the making of our garden. I seem to remember I promised awhile back to answer some of your questions also, so today is the day!
Our home and garden is on Prince Edward Island and we have 10 acres of land. We garden on aprox. 3 acres of it with the rest being a small woods with a brook and a pond - new last year.We have lived here for 36 years and I started gardening when the youngest of our 7 children started kindergarten. The garden slowly evolved until about twelve years ago when we did some major expansions for a couple of years.
For a number of years I watched almost every garden show and poured over garden magazines and books looking for ideas to incorporate into our garden.Fortunately,my husband Andrew was always helpful in making new beds etc. Our red soil here is pretty fertile on it's own but when we made new beds we always added several inched of mushroom compost. If you live in an area with poor soil it is very important to build up the soil first with manure,compost etc. Also, when making a new bed it is a good idea to make it wide enough to hold several different perennials so you can have color all season. I usually followed the rule of tall plants at the back,medium in the middle and short at the front but pulling a taller one forward here and there to give a more natural look. Some of the books I found helpful was The Art of Perennial Gardening by Patrick Lima when I was designing as well as Lois Holes Favorite Trees and Shrubs.I also enjoy The English Garden magazine and P.Allen Smith books and Suzy Beales garden books-to name just a few. Now, there is so much info about care of plants etc. on the internet as well.
Our garden is an English Style garden with shrubs and perennials closely mixed in every border. We don't use any pesticides or chemical fertilizers on the garden so it is a safe haven for birds and bees etc.
Sometimes I am asked about garden pests - we have no deer here and rabbits are not a problem either. So far, we do not have the Japanese Beetle in our garden but it arrived on the Island a few years ago so probably only a matter of time before it discovers our garden. We do have some slugs,Japanese Lily beetles,aphids,however.I did get rid of most of my lillies because of the beetle-it was too hard to keep ahead of them so I gave up.
We live in a zone 5b but we have had milder winters lately so Zone 6 plants will often survive here now,especially if we have good snow cover.Most of the plants in our garden are hardy and need no extra protection for winter with the exception of the English roses which we cover with several inches of mulch or compost.Our garden season here starts somewhere in April (depending on the year) and we do our last garden chores somewhere around the middle of November when the garden is put to bed for the winter and we enjoy a little break for the winter.
Many people ask how many hours we spend in the garden as we have done all the work ourselves. In the spring there is always a few weeks that we would spend aprox. 40 hours a week getting all the cleanup done but after that it would drop to 20 hours for a few weeks and by midsummer probably 10 hours a week. It is a good thing we enjoy it! Although the garden started out as my hobby now that my husband is semi retired he also enjoys spending time in it.
For the past several years we have many visitors from Japan tour our garden through local tour companies but also guests from several other countries as well. This sort of evolved as was not the plan when we started gardening.
Our garden includes many old fashioned plants such as peonies,lilacs,rose,delpheniums,phlox,etc. but also newer varieties of perennials too. For awhile I was always on the hunt for new varieties of plants but now our garden is very full and probably as big as we can handle so unless something dies or gets removed there is little need for more.That being said,if something looks very interesting,I can always squeeze it in somewhere!
I have often been asked where I got my love of gardening ,often thinking it is the 'Dutch" in me,but it was my Dad who enjoyed gardening and encouraged me to start by giving me some plants from his garden which I still have today.
I tend to love pinks,purples, whites and pastels in the garden as opposed to hot colors but having bought many plants at yardsales etc. there are sometimes little surprises that pop in.I have noticed that I have several orangish daylillies this year that I don't think I had a few years ago-I am guessing that some are reverting back to their parents color-anyone else notice that?
Andrew has built most of the fences,arbors,birdhouses and structures in the garden over the past number of years which really add to the gardens appeal. I also love having pretty seating areas and garden statues tucked in various places in the garden ,adding a touch of romance.
I think much of gardening for me has been trial and error-so if something doesn't work in one spot don't be afraid to dig it up and move it somewhere else. The garden is always changing and evolving. I read somewhere that it takes 15 years to make a garden so be patient! My advise is to take lots of pictures,study them to see what you like and what you don't like and then improve the things you don't like. I study the garden every winter,making notes about what improvements should be made in the spring. Little by little you make a big difference!
Well, I have probably totally bored you by now but if you have any other questions please feel free to ask and I will answer them here shortly.
This is a diagram of the layout of our garden taken from the Canadian Gardening magazine June 2004. The garden was expanded since then so I drew in the new additions.
Well,this is definitely the longest post I have ever written. I hope this has answered some of your questions and not put you all to sleep! I have to say gardening on this scale is not for everyone but we love being outdoors surrounded by nature and I feel blessed to be able to do it.
Thank you,Kathy for asking me to be a guest on your lovely blog A Delightsome Life and to you my delightful readers!
I am also joining My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday.