Would you agree that the natural inclination for most gardeners starting out is to plant around the foundation of their house first?
Whenever I moved to a new house and garden, I seemed to plant the foundation plants across the front of the house first, add a vegetable garden the first spring, and then look around to see what other gardens to plant.
Here’s a garden made up entirely of sunflowers that I planted in the yard at my second house.I recall that I planted perhaps ten or twelve different varieties of sunflowers in this garden, and it is probably as close as I’ve come to being obsessed with a particular genus of flowers. I started out like most sunflower growers, with the “Mammoth Grey” in my nearby vegetable garden, and then decided I should have all kinds of sunflowers, to attract birds and bees from miles around.
I must have really liked this garden of sunflowers because I have six or seven pictures of it in my time travel box of pictures. That’s a lot of picture of one garden from the film camera days.
Two years later, I was through with mass plantings of sunflowers and planted a variety of flowers in two flower beds in my back yard.
I believe those are Wave Petunias along the front, some Nicotiana back behind and who knows what else. I didn’t really start faithfully keeping a garden journal until I moved to my current house and garden.
Do you recognize that bench? That’s the garden bench that I painted purple earlier this year and use as the backdrop for most of my vegetable harvest pictures.
Having moved three times to new gardens that were essentially blank slates, I have some advice to offer other new gardeners in similar circumstances.
1. If the builder says, “We’ll plant some shrubs along the foundation and a tree in the front yard”, make sure you want what they are planting or ask them to give you credit so you can buy your own trees and shrubs. The builder of my second house planted six Andorra Junipers across the front of my first house when I wasn’t looking. I promptly tore them out and put them in the trash. I don’t like junipers.
2. Plant trees first. They provide structure to your garden. I didn’t do a good job of this at my second house so the back yard was still essentially tree-less when I moved away after six years.
3. If you know where you want to put your vegetable garden, don’t let the builder sow grass seed in that area. It’s easier to sow grass seed later than to dig out grass to plant a vegetable garden. Ditto flower gardens.
4. Don’t let the builder bring in fill dirt. If they start talking about “fill dirt” ask them to bring in top soil instead. I did this at my current house and it has been wonderful.
5. Strongly consider hiring a landscape architect to develop a master landscape plan. A good one can show you how to plant in phases, gradually adding plants each year as part of a master plan, so you don’t have to buy all the plants the first year. (I wish I had done this!)
What advise do you have for new gardeners?