If I had the “best dream ever“, this would be my back garden (photo left)! I love the formal symmetry and the water feature…and I believe a garden with good bones looks most beautiful in winter.
My back garden is quite protected from the wind…I have a tall wall fence on the east side; the greenhouse backs onto the south, the garage is on the west, and the house is on the north side. The elm tree on the west side offers a good windbreak, as do all the mature trees in my neighbours’ gardens. Technically, my garden is in zone 4B; however, I think that the back garden has its own micro-climate, and I’ve had success growing plants hardy to zone 5.
This garden was NOT professionally laid out. With the help of my mom and dad, the first project, over 20 years ago, was to build raised planters (where the spruce trees are now). At the time, there were tall trees along the back where the greenhouse is and a diseased May Day tree and tired evergreens in the centre area. I knew I wanted a formal plan and the garden’s centre to align with the window over my kitchen sink. We did our best to keep everything square, but without proper instruments (we used a tape measure!), you will see we missed the mark…more than a bit! Over the next few summers, on Sundays (my day off), I laid the paving stone walkways…again, not perfectly!!! And the drone photos do not lie…
If you are a gardener, I’m sure you will agree during the winter months, we plan for the coming garden seasons. I’ve spent considerable time gazing out my back window, visualizing what changes I want to make to improve my garden design.
We’ve had very hot, dry summers recently, and it’s become evident that any changes should reflect our changing climate. The grass around the raised beds has never been stellar…we’ve had four female dogs (while living in this house) happily doing their business on these grassy patches. Every spring, I top-dress the lawn with a layer of dirt and compost, and reseed the grass to cover the damage left behind, but this is a no-win situation. I’ve threatened to remove the grass for many years…this year, I’m actually going to do it! To have a lush green lawn, you need lots of water and fertilizer, neither of which is the right option for this area.
The “new look” I want for my garden is streamlined (I say that now!) with an enclosed courtyard feel. The major project for spring will be extending the width of the paved walkways and, as mentioned, eliminating the grass. The walkway in all directions will be 44″ wider than present, with a perennial border between the boxwood hedges and pavers (inspiration photo, left, I saw on Instagram last fall). I’m concerned this new plan will highlight the areas that are not exactly square, but hopefully, the plantings can fudge the discrepancies. Looking at the drone photo above, you may understand what I want to do.
The garden bed along the side of the garage, facing east, has always been just ho-hum (photos left). Last summer, I visited a friend’s garden…always a treat to see a beautiful garden through someone else’s vision! She trimmed up some of her hydrangea shrubs into a small tree form allowing for planting beneath. While doing my fall cleanup in this area, I also pruned up my hydrangea shrubs and loved the new tree form. This will give me an opportunity to up the game here…I like the inspiration the Pinterest photos below provide.
My container gardening skills are abysmal!!! Every year I try to do better than the year before, but so far, I haven’t accomplished the lush beauty that I’m sure many of you have. It seems like spring clean-up takes so much time that by the time the planters need to be planted, I’ve either run out of gas (or time) and often, there is no longer a selection at the garden centre of unique planting material left. I love the look of the containers in the photos below, and I will endeavour to do better this year!
If you are also daydreaming the final days of winter away, I hope you find inspiration for the coming season. Before we know it, the snow will be gone, and we’ll be excited to get back outdoors to play in the mud!