Monday, February 11, 2019

How to Change Your Garden Style: Beginnings and Inspiration

When I first started gardening I adored English cottage gardens. When my children were small I created a Peter Rabbit garden and planted all the plants mentioned in the story. Over time that grew into a rambling colorful and a somewhat chaotic and often weedy jumble of flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

It had a messy natural charm but I would panic any time we had visitors because it always felt so untidy. There were always just so many weeds. 

Wild even...

But man, did it have its moments.

Usually in the early morning and in the evening.

Or rainy afternoons...

Still, in the mid-south on a lot next to a creek where every few years I do see a snake, it wasn't the kind of garden I walked in easily. I was always quite wary. It was weedy. I was always tripping over something when I was in a hurry. I often jumped when I mistook a mislaid garden hose for something slithery.

The magnitude of the job of reworking it helped me continue enjoying it the way it was. Ten years ago we added chickens and a couple of years later, bees. In the morning light, it really was just the most beautiful and comforting thing. I loved the rustic tendencies and how it all worked together.

But a couple of years ago I was sitting on the back porch and noticed that the garden kept encroaching as did the amount of work and that I was suddenly feeling a bit claustrophobic. Out of the blue, I craved order but still took no action. Then over the course of the past year, all of our chickens died off one by one and the day the last one went to that great coop in the sky I pulled up the fencing around the coop and was instantly filled with a sense of what could be.

Sometimes inspiration smashes in like a wave.

I spent the next month in the heat of a steamy southern July digging, transplanting, and hauling 2 tons of crushed limestone.

By the time I was finished I had revamped a third of the garden. The two thirds closer to the hives had to wait for winter so I could easily work around the hives without being buzzed by guard bees. I do regular maintenance around the hives in summer but major digging, scraping and possibly bumping the hives is not appreciated by the girls.

It's super tempting to want to go straight to planting, but hardscapes must be done first.

In the first part of the garden makeover hardly anything was planted except at the edges or in containers. I tended the herbs that were in the undisturbed herb bed and longed for cold weather so I could finish the garden. But life competes with big projects and after a month of travel, the holidays, and bronchitis I'm far behind where I planned to be at this point.

In the next post, I'll be sharing what I'm up to now, and what the current state of the garden is. 


  1. My hubby and I have totally different taste in just about everything style I like more of a hodge podge, probably cottage garden style, where he wants order. It will interesting if we ever get around to landscaping our property.

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