Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting your hands dirty...

So sorry there wasn't a 'Friendly Friday' post last weekend.  A few days ago Madeline, my mother-in-law, died and yesterday we had the funeral.  Madeline raised my children while I worked and was a second mother to me, after I lost my mom over 20 years ago.  We are all sad to lose her, but as she said herself, I've had a wonderful 88 years!

This weekend I'm planning two 'Friendly Friday' posts.  And here are some great tips from Amber for creating a small garden...

Do you love gardening, but squeezing plants into a small yard seems like too much hassle? Let me show you how to bring your garden dreams to life.  Creating a great garden in a small spot is no more challenging than organizing a small closet. The key is planning and research.  After determining which type of garden you want ... cottage ... English ... vegetable ... tropical ... herbaceous ... or any combination of these, just do your research, develop a foundation plan and get your hands dirty!

When planning your garden consider the size of plants or trees when fully mature.  Will they require much upkeep and if so, are you willing to dedicate the labor required to prune and care for fast growing shrubs and plants?  Miniature varieties of arborvitae, boxwood and evergreens are slow growers and require little to no pruning.  Many deciduous trees can also be kept small by pruning and shaping.

Cultivating a "weed-free" herbaceous border can be back breaking work.  To keep weeds at bay with a minimum of elbow grease and maintain a look of fullness, consider a mix of fast-growing shrubbery such as nandina, or fern wegelia and low growing ground covers.

Sometimes lush rolling lawns are not a homeowners chief desire.  This darling backyard gardener used natural stone and raised beds to create a lovely and peaceful landscape with nary a blade of grass to be found!

Embellishments in the form of garden statuary, arbors and fencing make a charming backdrop for a small yard.

This bi-level concrete tiled patio with its charming playhouse and dining area makes me long for a cocktail and some savory 'small bites'  while lounging next to teak arbor.  How peaceful!

Arbors make the perfect support for climbing plant varieties.  And don't have to stop at roses, although they are my favorite!  Great climbers include morning glories, wisteria, clematis and even a grape vine.  Very little pruning for these dandies is required.

To make vegetable gardens work in a small space,  just downsize the amount of veggies.  A few plants from each variety, tomato, cucumber, beans, will keep you in veggies all summer.  And be creative in your placement of plants.  Who says you can't grow a row of corn against a fence? 

I think vegetable gardens are just as lovely as flower beds.  Look at the symmetry of this zen garden which also includes vegetables.  Large squash plants and climbing beans are woven into the design plan along side rocks and a minimalist garden fountain.

Apartment dweller?  No worries!  This clever gardener used a hanging shoe bag to plant veggies!

Whatever your gardening style, it doesn't have to be compromised due to lack of space.  With a little ingenuity and some elbow grease you can have a beautiful landscape in your own backyard!  Happy gardening!


Photos Courtesy of Small Gardening Magazine


  1. ...a garden post is just perfect to remember and honor your sweet mother in law...certain that gardens where she is are beyond compare...blessings and love...

  2. I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

  3. Laney, Thank you for you kind words. As usual, you know just what to say to bring a smile to my face. My mother-in-law did love gardening and always had tomato and basil planted within easy reach just outside the kitchen door.

    Blessings and hugs,


  4. And I do appreciate the note from anonymous. How nice of you to take time to write.


  5. So sorry to hear about your mother-in-law Genevieve. 88 years is an amazing life and the memories will warm all of your hearts forever.

    Amber - thanks for the inspiration. Love all the pics. Especially pic l, 3 and the last one. Would you reply with your sources.

    Looking to tweek my backyard a bit this next year as my nest will be much emptier with my youngest leaving for college the summer of 2012.


  6. June, Thank you for your note! It means so much that you would reach out and send your good wishes at this difficult time. And how right you are, Madeline had an amazing life!


  7. The natural stone juxtaposed against the raised flower bed looks exquisite.