Gardens—out with the old and in with the new

My garden at our old house taken June 2009

When we moved on December 30th, 2009, one of the hardest things to leave was my garden. For the sixteen years we had lived in our family home I have re-visioned, created, re-created, tended and nurtured this garden. When we first moved there it was smaller, full of overgrown Yucca plants, and overgrown hardened shrubs, and it was mulched with some kind of artificial stone and edged with a wooden walk.

"English Country" Garden at old house taken the summer of 2000

I loved the English gardens I saw in gardening magazines, so with a lot of back-breaking work I uprooted and eventually eradicated the Yuccas. I chopped down and dug out the overgrown and aged bush. I double-dug all the earth and enriched it with peat moss. Mark installed a partial white picket fence. And over the years I created my version of a somewhat wild but free English garden.

Walking paths through old garden taken May 2009

My garden changed with the years, as I did. Eventually I tamed the garden and created a little walking path through the sections of flowers.

Henry O clematis grows up birdhouse pole taken June 2009

I loved working in, or just walking in my garden.

Our new house has what I like to think of as three gardens. We have a garden beside our house I call the St. Francis garden, a large garden along a hillside to the right of our driveway I think I will call the Angel Garden and an area at the top of the Angel Garden where I hope to create a magical Woodland Garden.

I can see the St. Francis garden through the door and windows when I sit at our kitchen table .

View of St. Francis Garden through kitchen door taken April 3, 2011

It got its name from the little statue of St. Francis you can see in the distance that was a house-warming gift from my son and daughter-in-law. This garden also attracts birds, squirrels, rabbits, turtles and the occasional groundhog, so since St. Francis was known for his love of animals, I think it is aptly named.

The St. Francis garden is terraced with beautiful stone. The top section is sloped on the hillside and stone steps lead to a lower level that is mostly shaded. To the right of the steps is a small section that contains iris and sedum.

You can see the iris after we cleared the vines away from the lower level of the St. Francis garden. Note the stone in front of the refuse bag that we excavated from the vines. Taken March 17, 2010.

The previous owners were not outdoor people as evidence by the state of affairs of the St. Francis garden which borders the woods. Creeping vines from the woods were trying to reclaim the land. It wasn’t until we started pulling on the vines and clearing them away that we discovered the lower level of the garden and a supporting rock wall. We also found hidden under the vines choked-to-death flat evergreen shrubs (the name of which eludes me).

You can see here the iris and the stone wall we uncovered at the right edge of the garden. Taken April 3, 2011.

Last year we planted some shade-loving plants in the lower level—astilbe, bleeding hearts, lily of the valley, hosta and ferns. The bleeding hearts are blooming now.

Bleeding hearts taken April 16, 2011.

Here’s a closer look.

Before we started planting, the St. Francis garden was largely a sea of iris, which were stunning when they bloomed but not so interesting through the remainder of the summer. Some sedum added nice color in the fall, and daffodils for the spring, were nicely placed along the stone steps.

Taken April 2010

Last year we added creeping woolly thyme, daisies, coreopsis, Lenten roses, and two rose bushes to this garden and filled in with annuals I grew from seed like cosmos and zinnias. We’ll have to see where we have bare spots this year. I want to add a third rose bush and hope to find some columbine. We had beautiful blue columbine at our old house. (If it hadn’t been winter when we left I would have dug some of that up and brought it with me.)

St. Francis garden taken April 15, 2011. We keep debating whether or not to eliminate the honeysuckle at the edge of the woods beside the garden. For now Im going to just try to keep them pruned back.

The Lenten roses we added last year are also blooming.

Lenten rose in St. Francis garden taken April 3, 2011

We had great fun yesterday shopping for a tree, bushes, and perennials for the Angel Garden and the Woodland Garden.

I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.


See more posts about gardening in my series.

9 thoughts on “Gardens—out with the old and in with the new”

  1. Such a beautiful garden and the end of your story has such a nice touch with the bunny statue and the lenten rose. Perfect.

  2. I love English, cottage gardens as well. My downfall is not preparing the soil well. As you said, gardening is back-breaking work. But the results are so rewarding. Love what you’ve done in your old, and current, gardens.

    simply lovely…hugmamma. 😉


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