Monday, June 26, 2017

The evolution of my garden

Seventeen years ago we bought our current home situated on a heavily wooded lot with natural areas in front and back and on both sides. At that time, I didn't know much about gardening at all. My main goal was to grow hydrangeas and camellias for flower arrangements for myself and to share with others.
 So, I began planting.  It didn't take me long to  realize that maintaining our natural area would not be an easy job. My husband's main objective was privacy, so planting shrubs along the fence on the back of the lot, was my first priority. After researching shrubs that would grow in the shade,  I chose a variety of viburnum.
   At that time, we didn't have a great camera, I didn't take many pictures and  had not started blogging.  As a result, all I have are some xerox paper copies of pictures and the quality is not good, but maybe you can get an idea what the area looked like when my garden began. The old saying, I wish I had known then what I know now comes to mind when I think back and realize all the mistakes I made. I had no plan at all just started planting things I liked. Of course, I did know enough to know I had a yard that was primarily shade so my love of hydrangeas and camellias fit in nicely. 

This is what my garden looks like now. It is still a work in progress and I constantly dream and think of ways to change it.
Of course, the weather is a constant factor in how well a garden performs. Plants and shrubs outgrow their spots and may need to be moved. Pruning each year is a major job for me as well as mulch in the beds and weeding. I enjoy the work but it is time consuming and life happens. Perfection does not happen!
This is the first picture I could find after moving in our house and beginning my garden.   My benches were painted black and I soon learned that black does not show up well in shaded areas, so I re-painted them white. You can see the viburnum shrubs planted along the fence in this pic and notice how much the camellias have grown!

My cute niece in our back yard basically before anything was planted except the viburnums along the back fence. She has two children now!!

 Fast forward and everything is growing and the hydrangeas and camellias are rewarding me with blooms. I fertilize the camellias with 9-4-8 right after they finish blooming and before new growth begins. The last of March I fertilize the hydrangeas with 10-10-10.

The camellias are blooming in this picture and have grown quite well.  Stone wall has not been stacked...just a few stone outlining beds. The viburnums in the back have grown also and it's beginning to look like a shade garden.

 On the left side of the picture are three large pine trees. They eventually die from pine beetles and had to be removed which changed the garden dynamic.  View the tree cutting process here and the arbor I lost. 
I loved the pretty long leaf pine needles they provided and enjoyed the back drop they made for my statuary. The white benches beside the fountain were in the back of the garden and were not used much so I moved them to the front.
Close up of the pine trees I lost and the statuary I mentioned in the previous picture.  Post about my garden statuary may be viewed here.
The variegated hydrangeas shown here were also lost because they were moved to protect them from the falling trees and did not survive. Variegated hydrangeas are hard to find and I love their light color. I hope to add some more of these when I find this variety again.
This is further down the border. I had just acquired this old iron fence and the new arbor. Wow, that was a long time ago.
Here you can see what a few years can do. The same iron fence and  the arbor thickly covered with confederate jasmine. Woodland phlox grew by the fence for a number of years but the blooms only lasted a short time.   Look how the camellias have grown. I forgot to mention irrigation was added to this area in 2001 or the garden would not have grown as quickly.

At this point my husband was seeing that losing a few trees would give  the garden more light  and things would grow better. I finally convinced him it would look better if the crooked tree and a few others could be cut down. The dogwoods made me happy blooming but they too would fall to disease. A garden is always evolving due to the elements and nature.

This large oak tree shaded our grass and was dangerously close to the house. I have my husband's mother to thank for this tree being cut. We were sitting outside and she looked up at the tree and asked weren't we afraid this tree would fall on the house! When my husband said to call a tree cutter I did not hesitate and it has made a huge difference in the grass growing as well as much less maintenance because it dropped a lot of leaves and hickory nuts.

Cutting the tree opened up this area and now I can have a few blooming things in this sunny spot. The old wooden blue birdhouse in the back of this picture has been moved and updated to a white  birdhouse with a copper roof.

In 2011, the wall was built and has made the greatest difference. "Bones" in the garden are the most expensive items but add  structure needed. The concrete bench pictured here has been moved to  another spot and the pair of white wooden benches are by the fountain now. The white color illuminates in the late evening and early morning. Using white plants throughout my garden lights up the shady areas  and by repeating the same color unifies the various garden rooms.

 Along with adding white flowers of varying textures I like to add concrete statuary throughout my garden. Hardscape items draw the eye from one point to another and invite you to continue around the path from one area to another. They also add interest and variety.

Adding a touch of blue adds a touch of whimsey and the unexpected.

This is a terrible picture of me but I'm in my element! Happy Gardening!!!


  1. Bonnie, your post is wonderful! I love seeing how your garden has evolved.

  2. Bonnie, your woodland garden is beautiful...obvious you have put many hours into making it a showpiece. I love your arbor.
    Hydrangeas are my favorite flower...I now have 3 of them, but they are really hard to keep as it is so hot and sunny where our house is situated. I have to have them on the north side of the house and there are no doors to step outside to enjoy them.

  3. I have a pretty shady back yard too and it'S so hard to get flowers to grow but my hydrangeas seem to love it!...yours are beautiful!

  4. Bonnie, your wooded garden is gorgeous! We have neighbors really close in one area of our back yard. They had a huge tree, so it made our sitting area completely private. A couple of years ago they cut it down and now it is wide open. They sit higher than us and look right into our back yard. Good thing I like them! lol! I planted some tall slender type pines that said they were rapid growing along the fence. They are already slightly higher. It will be nice when we have privacy again. I love Hydrangeas, but the gorgeous ones do not do well here. I do have a gorgeous Limelight. Yours are amazing!

  5. Well your garden is a showplace. I know all the work it takes to keep it looking so beautiful. We have been trying to make something of our little patch and have been discouraged because of all the shade, but you have given me inspiration. I'm going to plant some hydrangeas!

  6. Very interesting to see how your garden has evolved over the years. It has obviously been a lot of hard work, but it is well worth it because the results speak for themselves and it has resulted in a beautiful garden!

  7. Oh I have loved watching the many changes over the years with your sweet sanctuary garden Bonnie . You are right about weather and other things playing such a vital role in the garden . I bet you enjoy every moment of picking those beautiful hydrangea's . Enjoyed your garden today . Hugs and blessings , Cindy

  8. I so enjoyed reading this post, Bonnie, and I'm amazed at this gorgeous garden you're created! It truly is beautiful, and I can imagine how much pleasure it brings you and others who are fortunate enough to see it in person. :) Do you still have the woodland phlox in your garden? Those are a favorite of mine. Hydrangeas are my other favorite, and you definitely have the magic touch with them. A lot of people I know around here have trouble getting theirs to bloom after the first year. I'm hoping I'll have better luck with mine. ;)

    I agree with you that "bones" are the most expensive part of a garden, but they make all the difference, in my opinion. All of your statuary is so pretty and they bring such a classic and peaceful element to the garden.

    Thanks so much for the tour, and have a wonderful week!



  9. Bonnie, I really now see how your beautiful woodland garden has evolved. The video you shared on Facebook was truly magnificent. You do have a way with camellias and hydrangeas. So far, I haven't had any luck with camellias. I have a beautiful green bush, but it has never had a bloom! Thanks so much for sharing at Gardens Galore! How I would love to have shade in my garden.

  10. Wow! Well, I am seriously impressed, first at your vision and then at your dedication to make that a reality. It's fabulous and quite a haven. I can't imagine the hundreds, probably thousands, of hours (and dollars) you have put into it. Amazing.

  11. Bonnie, I absolutely am enthralled with the evolution of a garden, so thank you for this tour in time. I've also lost a few trees, and have had to deal with the changes; however, my garden was never thick with cover, so it really just got more sunny. I don't even think I'd know where to start with a shade garden of much.
    I love statues too and other hardscape too. Your gardens are wonderful in their mature state.

  12. Beautiful Bonnie! I envy your shade and love seeing those camellias and hydrangeas in bloom and used as cut flowers in your arrangements. Isn't amazing what watering does to the garden? We added irrigation on the lakeside of our yard 8 years ago and everything has grown by leaps and bounds.

  13. Hi Bonnie, I always enjoy when you post photos in the garden. Like you I love hydrangeas and camellias. You really have done an amazing job with creating your spaces. I've enjoyed seeing the early photos and the "transformation" of the garden. Simply beautiful..........

  14. Your garden is truly a labor of love Bonnie and gives me such inspiration. I am on the lookout to add some additional sculpture. It adds so much. Have a wonderful week!

  15. Bonnie,
    I so enjoyed this chronological overview of your garden. Your loving efforts and vision most certainly have paid off with the most loveliest of gardens that I have seen.
    Those hydrangeas are fabulous!

  16. Bonnie, this must be your little piece of heaven as it is an absolutely delightful space. I can imagine sitting in meditation there with only bird sounds in my ears.

  17. I enjoyed viewing your gardens and seeing how they've progressed through the years. Having my own gardens I can appreciate all you've done. The hydrangeas are amazing and I love all the statuary

  18. Hermoso jardín, yo no tengo espacio en casa y mi sueño es tener uno algún día...No hay tesoro más maravilloso que un jardín...

  19. What fun that was to see the progress in your yard, Bonnie! You have such a wonderful area and you've certainly made it so beautiful. Your statuary and hardscape adds so much interest, too. I know your garden is your very own piece of heaven on earth!

  20. Your gardens are spectacular, Bonnie! I am so jealous of your hydrangeas. Mine look dry and burned. They're endless summer and they are on the northeast corner of our home. They do not get that much sun. I need your advice because your hydrangeas are gorgeous!

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