Photograph of Author's Garden

GARDEN PARTY

Each year the garden at our home seems to get bigger and bigger.  It feels like it is more work each year for my wife and me (but mostly her); more mulch, more weeds, more trimming.  But more stuff!  Beauty!  Smells!

We started our garden maybe 20 years ago, with some help of a friend.  Starting small, but we did have a small sunken pond, with goldfish.  Soon after the ducks found them, so we sent the dog after the ducks.  We soon passed on the goldfish, but years later the ducks were still diving for those fish.

For many years, we had areas of our yard that had a difficult time keeping grass looking good, so those areas were simply added to the garden.  Then we needed bricks, stepping stones, lights (now solar thank goodness!), a bird bath, yard art, arbors, and bags and bags and bags of mulch.  And of course hours and hours of weeding and trimming.

Of course gardens need birds, so we have several bird feeders, and bird baths.  The suet feeders are a real hit, often with several birds on them at once.  And who can resist having hummingbird feeders?

Our go to mulch for years has been cocoa bean hulls.  Yes, a bit more expensive than your typical wood mulch, but it looks good, is easy to spread, very easy to add plants, it makes weeding less difficult, and it smells, like, well, cocoa!

To get started, or even to enlarge a home garden, do some basic research.  You want to set up your garden to put plants requiring shade where they are at least not in the sun all day.  Do not plant items that spread so much that they end of choking off other plants or flowers.  Try to spread colors around, unless you want all the same color in a certain, contained area.  You want plants that get taller than others to be planted in the back or far side of the garden, so you can see the shorter ones in front.   We put Phlox in back, Black-eyed Susans in front of that, and day lilies in front of those!

Last, plant some annuals each year to help spread out when colors pop.  Some flowers bloom in spring, some all summer, others late summer or fall.  We have a border of red salvia that stay bright red until late fall.  Attempt to keep some color in your garden as long as possible.  Summer is always too short!

Mid-fall we clean up and trim back the garden readying for winter and anticipating already the beauty of spring.  Here are other ways it is suggested to prepare your garden for winter:

  1. Clean up rotting and finished plants
  2. Remove any weeds that seem invasive and are taking over
  3. Prune perennials
  4. Divide and plant bulbs, store inside in a cool, dry space
  5. Keep watering until the ground freezes
  6. Add a layer of mulch or mulched leaves in late fall

Last, we put big fake carved pumpkins along the garden paths for the kids (and us) to enjoy during the remainder of fall.

Are we the Tivoli Gardens of Copenhagen?  The wonderful tulips of a spring in Holland?  Are we on the Gardens in Bloom tour in Eau Claire?  Nope.  Just a place we call home.

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