Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seven Questions--How Does Your Garden Grow?

The week after Mother's Day is the time for planting around here. Needing some inspiration this year, I turn to my cute Aunt Polly--my mom's little sister, my cousins' mom and one of my dear real-life (and now, blog-life) friends!



I've spent many pleasant hours in Polly's backyard--playing with cousins, listening to grown-up talk, having my bridal shower, and watching my own kids play in the sandbox--and I can tell you it is a fabulous place to be.


Here are Polly's tips on flowers, family and fun...right in your own backyard!


1. When did your love for gardening begin? What have you learned over the years about "taming the earth"?
I can't remember when I first began to love gardening. I have always loved the feel of the dirt as you pull weeds out and plant new flowers in the ground. I like the smell of new soil in spring and I love wandering around nurseries and just looking at all the varieties of flowering plants. Maybe it started when I was little and loved getting lost in my Grama Bagley's flowering bushes which surrounded her backyard.


Over the years I have learned that cutting back vines and flowering bushes in the early spring makes a big difference in their health throughout the season...they get stringy and don't produce as many flowers if this isn't done. Good soil and cleaning up the winter mess and starting out with a cleaned up palette is a good idea.


2. How do you begin planning your garden each year? What preparations do you make? What suggestions do you have for first-time gardeners?
I usually plan my garden around a color scheme. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a variety of colors. Other years it's pastels and sometimes I've done red and white with a little yellow thrown in...just depends. It also depends on what grows well where. Over the years my yard has gotten quite shady, so I tend to plant more shade-loving flowers rather than sun-loving ones.




*Look in magazines for ideas and ask for help in the nursery when you go to pick out your flowers.

*Think of your yard kind of like a painting you are creating.

*I know it's hard, but crop off the tops of the flowers when you first plant them...the plants will spread out and become bushier if you do this at first.

*Keep deadheading and they will continue to do this throughout the season.


3. How much time do you spend in your garden? What are your favorite gardening tools? At the first of the season I spend a lot of time. Cleaning out flower beds, pruningcan take a couple weeks in April. Then planting the flowers and vegetables, another week or so in mid-May. After that, it is just a little up keep..keeping weeds away and deadheading, and watering, which I love to do in the evenings. It's like visiting my friends to see how they are doing each night!






When my Scarlett bean vines start shooting up by leaps and bounds, it is amazing and a very rewarding part of this whole process!



I just use a rake, hoe and a little hand shovel and, of course, my garden gloves. I do have a tiny stool that is just above the ground, so I don't bend over too much (I'm kind of getting old and have a bad back.)



I always have an old laundry detergent bucket I drag along with me to throw weeds into and an apron with lots of pockets to put phone, shovel and any other things in so I don't have to get up once I've gone to work.

4. What were your biggest gardening mistakes? What did you learn from them?
Too many to count. Wrong flowers in the wrong place. I learn something every year! I did pour my own cement in "upper garden" because I was to impatient to wait for my husband, Jim, to do it. It is very uneven (I guess it adds to the charm???) I learned to wait for Jim when I have a big project.






5. Polly, the thing I love most about your backyard is that it has a cozy, comfortable feeling. It's almost like being in a beautiful family room with really high ceilings. What are your secrets for creating this environment?


You are so nice to say that! Our yard started out a huge hill. Jim built retaining walls with railroad ties, this along with our vine covered fence, trees and bushes and the levels created by the retaining walls helped us achieve kind of a cozy feeling in the middle of a busy neighborhood. I like the English garden look, a little wild rather than more manicured. But that is my taste. Each gardener needs to find the look and feel you want along with the space you have. You can create anything!



6. What are the five essentials you think every outdoor living space needs?
I think every outside living space needs a place to lounge, a place to play, a place to hide and meditate or be quiet in. A vegetable and flower garden, a workspace (for the husband-- if he doesn't have it, he'll take it anyway!) and a nice entry. I have some of these but not all.


My family makes fun of me, because my areas have names. I have an area called "lower garden" for lounging with comfy chairs, surrounded by my lilac and snowball and rose bushes and other flowers. Beautiful in the summer!



"Upper Garden" is my place to hide! No one can see me when I am up there and I can just sit and think or read or whatever I want. In the summer, at dusk, it is pure heaven.




There is a larger area of grass for grandkids to run and play and roll down the hill.


My husband has a shed (this could use some work) and we have a vegetable garden.


I have two entries to the yard. Neither are the way I would like them.. .but my yard is always a work in progress!



7. Finally, what are some of your favorite backyard memories?
My yard has 30 years of memories-- when my kids were little and they played baseball out back and jumped on the trampoline. Nowadays, we have family get togethers in the backyard.


I don't have expensive outdoor lighting, so when guests are over, there are candles on tables and a few lights glitter in the trees.


Sitting there, seeing my small vines--which started out as seeds--winding around the trellis along with my family and friends, enjoying the fragrance and beauty nature offers, truly is worth any work put into gardening.


Thanks, Polly! I'm ready to dig in the dirt!

Polly blogs about family and nature here. This post inspired me to plant!

16 comments:

Robin said...

I am sitting here in my garden grubs, just getting ready to go out back and transplant some perennials and put in some annuals! What a lovely post. I love to garden too!

mama jo said...

polly's gardens are always so pretty and inviting..she has a great talent!

Cathy said...

Wow! What a dream garden! How fun and inviting!

Hazen5 said...

I am in AWE of this garden! She has the greenest thumb I have ever seen.

Lisa-Marie said...

Wow. That is all I've got. Just..WOW!

Travelin'Oma said...

Polly's garden IS amazing! It started out being just a hill of dirt. It wasn't a little canyon already like some yards are. Everything you see has been planted, loved and nurtured by Polly, and now it feels like you're entering a naturally forested place, far away from the hustle of the world.

This is a wonderful post and again you've chosen the perfect person for the subject and asked the perfect questions to let her talents shine!

Christie said...

I wish I was good at this sort of thing like Polly. I think the poison ivy did me in for good.

LOVE the interview. Great advice!

brooke said...

This was the best thing I've read in days. I so need help in the yard area. I keep hoping Oprah is going to spot my yard and send in someone for a total make-over. No luck yet.

Jenibelle said...

Love this!! I want to go and have a tea party in Aunt Polly's garden. After allergy season that is.

polly said...

I've just collapsed in front of the computer after a day of planting. Seeing the pictures of last year's garden gives me hope, cause it certainly doesn't look like that right now! Thanks for your kind post Gabi..you and your friends are invited over for a tea party..in about a month! In the meantime keep digging, watering and fertilizing! Love, Aunt Polly

Lauren in GA said...

This was great! I learned a lot...like, who knew deadheading would bring bushier and better spread out plants.

Thanks for this, Gabi. I am a lousy gardener...I appreciate the tips.

diane said...

There is something so lovely about flowers picked from your own yard. Tom planted a peach and plum tree this weekend. I can hardly wait for harvest time.

Polly has a beautiful garden.

Rochelleht said...

OH! My dream backyard. I like mine, but it is NOTHING NOTHING like that.

Ilene said...

Really, cut off the flowers of your new plants?

I don't know if I am brave enough but I should trust a pro right?

My backyard needs serious help. No trees no flowers. Does Polly want to come visit me? I am trying to figure out a plan...

♥Shally said...

I've always wanted to garden, but with baseball, it was impossible. Now that we are settled, I would love to get started somehow! I just have no idea where to start...

Sally said...

What a great interview. I love the pictures and I want to visit that yard!

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