By Laura Walker
Members of my family have owned what is now the oldest florist and greenhouses in Lexington, Kentucky since the early 1900’s. As a child I would sit in the potting shed at the back of the greenhouses and plant flowers with my grandfather, who would tell me what each flower was as he taught me to gently plant them in terra cotta pots. So I guess it is only natural, that wherever I have lived as an adult, I have had some type of garden. Sometimes the space has been quite large, while at other times there may have been only room enough for a few potted flowers on a porch or balcony. Every winter I sit and dream about my summer garden and plan what I am going to plant when spring arrives.
I am currently in a townhouse with a bit of space in the back. A patio leads down to a dense area that was virtually unusable. So we decided to hack away the small trees and foliage and create a small haven that I like to call my secret garden. Stepping stones lead down to a small seating area that is a perfect spot to sip a glass of wine or lemonade, read a book, or just to enjoy some peace and quiet.
As you can see from the pictures, I am usually not alone for long. We have a small colony of feral cats that we feed, who are becoming domesticated, a family of raccoons, who like to share the cats’ food, some naughty squirrels, and a lot of birds. Keeping everyone living in harmony while maintaining a pretty space is an ongoing work in progress.
I have learned while living in various places around the country that there is always some trial and error involved in choosing plants for a garden. What may work beautifully in one area of the country may turn into a disaster in another. Don’t try to fight Mother Nature. If your area is primarily shady, as mine is now, don’t try to grow sun loving plants. It just doesn’t work.
I like the area around my patio to be lush with plants. I mix annuals with perennials so that there will be a constant display of color with lots of green foliage. Tucking some potted plants into the beds gives some variance in height and creates visual interest. Just like in the interior of my home, I love the coolness of white and so plant a lot of white impatiens in my beds. The pinks in the pots add a pop of color.
The best advice I can give to anyone who is starting a garden is to plant what is appealing to you and have fun with it. Summer will be over before you know it, so get outside and enjoy your garden.
What great advice, Laura! Thank you!! It must have been such a wonderful experience to be able to sit & learn with your grandfather like that. I just got the test results back from my soil sample & am dying to figure out what it means so I can start planting, too. You can find some really wonderful vintage treasures in Laura's shop I'm So Vintage and be sure to check out her blog, too!