Things I’ve Learned in the 1st Year
We bought our house in August 2006 so I've had the garden roughly one year now. I put together a list of things I want to remember about discovering my garden and I thought I'd share.
Be openminded about roses. My rose garden in Charlotte, NC will never look like my in-laws' garden in Leeds, UK. I've got to choose varieties that will flourish in my hot shady garden.
Speaking of hot shady gardens, the definition of USDA Zone 7b is really more of a suggestion than a guideline. You can absolutely grow something designed for cooler climes if you have the right spot with some shade. And a plant that will be hardy down to 10°F in the winter may not make it through 100°F in the summer.
Don't be seduced by the catalogs. Spring blooming bulbs are flashy but don't last long enough. Mix it up next year.
Whoever designed this house was clearly out of their mind. There is no water hookup in the back and hauling water is a trial.
Whoever worked this garden before me was clearly out of their mind. They planted shade plants in the sun, sun plants in the shade, never pruned anything, never kept a lawn, and apparently tried to grow a cell phone battery tree.
Get a support group (or Livejournal community.) The husband listens to plantchat because he is a lovely person, not because he was sitting around at work daydreaming about covercrops and how to choose a corner of the yard for a cutting garden.
It is always worth checking out your local utility company or city resources for rain barrels, compost, and other nifty things. Who knew they cared?
Don't count on the weather to do anything. It has been wildy unpredictable this year and will be even harder to plan around next year. Just plant and work with what happens.
It is still illegal to grow currants and gooseberries in NC. Although you can grow them 20 miles away in SC. Where I don't live.
You can shake off your lifelong fear of insects if japanese beetles are eating your frickin' roses. (However same beetle in my house will still put me directly into hysterics.)
Keep on top of watering containers and get them off the pavement and into the shade when it heats up. They dry out FAST.
You can never have too many pots and planters.
I like white azaleas. I didn't think I did, but these look fabulous. However, they have to be pruned IMMEDIATELY after flowering or you lose some of the new growth and they're slow growers.
Sweet Gum trees are the most unholy of all trees.
I don't need a proper lawn in the back. It was clearly taken over by wild strawberries long ago and I think I'll just stick with that. The little yellow flowers and red fruit are kinda charming and make a very welcoming place for the bees.