Friday, April 25, 2014

Three in One: Gardening for Different Purposes in One Landscape

I've been wanting to share posts of how great the garden is looking this spring, but I haven't been able to decide what to emphasize or what other gardeners might be interested in.  After starting several posts that fizzled from a severe lack of focus, I realized that I actually have 3 separate gardens, all combined into one overarching landscape.  It's easiest and most rational, then, to post about each garden separately.

However, I even get myself into trouble when I try to list the three separate types of gardens I have!  Which is the most important or the biggest - and therefore entitled to be showcased first and talked about the most?  Which is nearest and dearest to my heart?  Yikes!  I sure manage to create problematic mountains out of non-problematic molehills!

Okay, so here goes....

I'm going to start with my decorative/heirloom/memory gardens - these are plants that I inherited when we purchased our house, that I've rescued from gardens about to be lost, that I've chosen because they are heirloom varieties that appeal to me, that have been given to me, and so forth.  These are not native plants - they hail from Japan, Turkey, China, and many other parts of the world.  They are "traditional" garden plants.  (Yes, I DO grow non-natives!)

Right now the heirloom garden plants are the showiest, probably because native prairie plants tend to green up late, knowing that the weather is likely to be fickle well through April.

Here, for example, is a portion of my back courtyard bed from about two weeks ago.....

The flowers that are making a splash in this photo are a beautiful hellebore, as well as heirloom daffodils and hyacinths.  More on the specifics in the next post.

Next on my list is the vegetable garden.  This is pretty straight-forward, although I do mix it up a bit by utilizing raised beds to raise some perennials and natives in until I know where I want to put them in the flower beds.  Doing this not only helps me place things more rationally in the garden, but also brings in pollinators for the vegetables when the flowers bloom.  Greg experimented with different kinds of cold frames over the winter this year, which makes the vegetable garden look significantly messier.  The messy look has been well worth it, though because we've been reaping rewards as far as early greens and a head start on broccoli and cauliflower this spring.

Finally I end up at my beloved native plants.  Yes, these are the plants I hold closest to my heart.  Not only do they bring a lot of botanical beauty into the landscape, but they provide food and shelter for a myriad of animals that enliven the landscape with their presence and their activities.

I speak of the native plants as separate from the heirloom gardens and vegetable gardens, but in reality, I have all 3 combined throughout most of the garden.  It just seems easier to talk about them separately, since I grow them for such different reasons.

So now I've set the framework - in my own mind at least - for a quick look at 3 different "gardens" around our yard this spring.  Rather than make one exhaustively long post, I'm going to summarize what's been happening in 3 separate posts.   It will be interesting to see which different "gardens" appeal to more people and why!

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