Sunday, August 19

It's A Jungle Out There

Nate is one of those friends who drifts in and out... sometimes we see a lot of him, sometimes we can't get a text message back from him at all and are left to wonder where he is and what he's doing. Today he came over to hang out and catch up, which is always a good time.

"I know I haven't been here in a while," was the first thing he said to me, "But I wasn't quite expecting the nice little jungle you've added to the backyard." Nate meant that as a compliment, but it made me laugh just the same. Jungle? Au contraire, Nate--you were looking at the veggie garden!

Well, part of the veggie garden, anyway. See the blue leaves of brussels sprouts peaking out from behind the Little Bluestem, just to the right of the 'Red King Humbert' cannas? There are 'Ichiban' eggplants behind them and a row of various late-planted peppers spaced out evenly next to the 'Fuldaglut' sedum that edges the bed. The 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranths that you see popping up throughout the bed are edible, too--you can use the younger, more tender leaves like spinach.

Some veggies are just so pretty that I think I will always be able to find a place for them in the yard. And some of them, admittedly, look rather exotic. The purple-tinged eggplant leaves are one example. And the red okra that I plan to grow next year is another. That various grasses and low-maintenance perennials like 'Matrona' sedum, Siberian iris and Russian sage mix well with them is a bonus.

On the one hand, this post is an ode to the beauty of veggies and is meant to show that all vegetable plants do not have to be relegated to a square plot. On the other hand, it's also in response to Chuck's desire to see all of our gardens from other than the usual "closeup" perspective that we tend to show on our blogs.

On the third hand(?), this is also a "before" picture of a bed that's going to be totally revamped this fall. For one thing, I allowed the amaranth way too much leeway--artful clumps would look much better than all of that self-sown randomness. I have finally decided on a square lawn instead of the irregularly-shaped one that I have now, so more grass will be taken away and the area in front of the cannas will need to be redesigned to accommodate the new shape.

The 'Morning Light' and 'Little Zebra' miscanthus grasses that you see beyond the cannas, still in their pots, will need to be included here. I kind of like the way the 'Morning Light' and the Little Bluestem look bookending the cannas in this picture, so I may have to work that into the design somehow... but all of this design talk is mere conjecture at this point, really. I need to get out there, mark off the new bed, and take some measurements so I can actually start to design this area the right way. For once.

See, I would like to be one of those ultra-organized people who draws everything out on paper and then follows the plan to the letter, but sadly I am not. Instead I have a very good idea of what I'm going to do ahead of time, but make lots of changes--lets call them adjustments, that sounds more positive--as I start to dig.

I always wonder whether my fellow garden bloggers and garden blog readers have plans that they follow, or whether they just bring plants home and plop them anywhere they have space... or somewhere in between. Anyone out there reading care to comment and appease my curiosity?


Bek said...

Sofar I bought stuff which was on sale and then planted it where I thought I want something colorful. Then I was surprised why my garden doesn't look like a garden yet - I have a few plants here and there, but not a nice overall picture. So a few weeks ago, I actually set down, thought what colorscheme I want for a certain corner, meassured the area, and made a plan on the paper. I have no idea if I overplanned or underplanned for that size - or if I have to make so many adjustments that it won't look anything at all like I thought it would. I guess I will find out next year:)

Colleen Vanderlinden said...

I am so NOT a planner! I would like to be, and I am a planner (almost anal-retentively so) in the rest of my life. But when it comes to my garden, it's all about my flights of fancy, what I happen to fall inlove with that day, and what the garden seems to need at that moment in time. Needless to say, my garden changes a lot. I make plenty of those "adjustments" every year. That's part of the fun of it for me, though :-)

Anonymous said...

I make plans but I don't follow them. In fact I even have it all sketched out in a water-color drawing.

But then I go to the store and they don't have the plants I am looking for. Or I see things that look great and bring them home and wonder what I am going to do with them.

growingagardenindavis said...

I only make a drawn plan for veggies so I know I have a space for everything...even if it is being tucked in next to a perennial. But for everything else I just visualize something and then work with it. It's mostly just a gut feeling about what is needed in a particular spot.

Anonymous said...

I started with a blank slate and drew plans for both the front and the back gardens. The plans were enormously helpful in establishing distinct spaces for the garden and deciding on placement of hardscaping. And I'll still draw out a plan whenever I'm contemplating changes to the garden.

When filling in gaps, I usually will think through the size, color, and shape I want ahead of time and go to the nursery with my eyes open for something that will fit. That's also where I've gotten sucked into some impulse buys, of course, but that's OK too---and fun.

Rosemarie said...

I am a planner in most aspects of my life except for gardening. Right now I have some bare areas, so I just buy random plants and see how they work. if they don't, I'll move them.

If I'm making a garden bed from scratch, then I'll usually have a list of plants I'd like to put there and see what I can find. I have an idea in my head, but it all changes once I get home. Typical.

Anonymous said...

I tend to be a planner (or as my sister says anal-retentive), but I don't know enough about gardening yet to really plan ahead. I am right at this moment making a list for my vegetable garden next year, but since I'm not really able to plant anything in the ground (tree roots riddle our yard and we rent) I can't do too much more than I did this year. The garden won't be any bigger, but the vegetables grown will change. However, if we ever buy our own place (and it's not a condo in Florida) I have definite ideas.

kris said...

Oh, being a planner - of gardens or any other part of my life - sounds so deliciously foresighted. Alas, I don't think it will ever be true for me. I think that's why I love gardening - it's so forgiving for those of us who have to SEE it!

I like the way you've mixed your veggies and flowers - very creative and pretty. I may have to try more of that next year.

Anonymous said...

I guess that I do a little of both. Sometimes I plan a bed out in my head, rarely on paper, and sometimes I buy plants and bring them home and fit them in wherever they will work. But then my husband says that I move plants around like some people move furniture around in their homes, so I do make the occasional mistake. ;)

Stratoz said...

I have no drawn out plan. 9 days ago I went to my favorite garden center and for 50 bucks jammed 20 perennials into a red wagon, came home and spent a week figuring it out. We have been here 3 years and have not filled in some spots yet, but apparently thats Ok because visitors seem to love it. I hope to get one more red wagon trip in this year. who knows what that will bring.

Anonymous said...

Kim: I love the veggies tucked in the border! I once bought some 'bright lights' chard to add to the border but the EM planted the garden that year and in the veggie garden they went! Oh well! I plan, re-plan and then think on my feet when the installation commences! Nice post! I need some of that burgundy amaranth for next year!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I tried to do the drawn-out-on-paper plan thing with "drifts" of plants. Reality intruded, in the form of 1 or 2 of a grouping dying, or something getting much bigger than I thought, or colors just not jelling. However, I do research & analyze to figure out exactly what plant I want to fullfill a general idea I have or have stolen from somewhere. As a visual/tactile person, I need to see the plants in the situation to determine whether a given idea will work. Frequently, I'll get a plant with a specific idea in mind, then, on bringing it into the garden, I discover that it will not work as envisioned. Then it's "Find a Place to Stuff It" time. The FPSI plan also applies to those wonderful impulse purchases of things on the clearance table. Sometimes I even move them to a place where it looks like part of a plan.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I started out with a plan that I followed. Then very generous people gave me lots of plants that weren't on the plan. A new plan will be drawn up over the winter. I hope to get to a point where I have a master plan that I can tweak as I go? I think some of my beds will be well planned with every plant in it's assigned spot and others will be a wild mix that are constantly changing.

Unknown said...

Bek, thanks for stopping by! That sounds like me at the last house--only I kept buying into the "I need the latest and greatest plant, and then it will look like a real garden" pitfall, too. And I never did redesign it properly, now that I think about it. Hmm.

Colleen, how funny--I would have guessed that you were a total planner, even in the garden. :)

bill, I'm intrigued... any chance you might post a picture of that watercolor? Very cool idea!

leslie, gut feelings are always good--I admit that I go with those a lot of times.

pam/digging, I usually do have a good idea of what things I need to fill in spaces in terms of size/form/color, now that you mention it. But I envy you the discipline to have other things drawn out!

rosemarie, good point. Sometimes I buy exactly the plant I had planned to buy only to find that it doesn't quite work as I had thought.

heather, it seems like you have so much going on in your garden already, even though you aren't allowed to plant a whole lot! Can you maybe do more pots next year in that veggie garden area?

kris, thank you! I am SO with you... being "deliciously foresighted" as you put it is well beyond me, too, I'm afraid. I should have known this by my utter inability to answer the standard interview question: "So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?" lol.

vonlafin, what do you mean "like some people move furniture around in their homes"--are you saying there's something unusual about that, too?! ;) (My former husband hated change... I liked nothing better than to surprise him with a new living room layout when he walked in the door after work. Is it any wonder we're now just friends? lol.)

wayne... I want to go visit Rhoads, too! Oh what I couldn't do with a red wagon sale like that. :) I suspect that your garden delights (plan or no) because it is as encompassing and exhuberant as your personality...

layanee, ooooh... I love that swiss chard! Actually, I planted a red one last year that I really miss this year--both eating-wise and color-wise. If you plant it again, definitely place it where it can catch either early morning or late afternoon light... so beautiful.

mr. mcg's daughter, I hear you on having to actually see things together--especially with all of the different shades of plants, and mashing together textures. Sometimes I think that a fine-textured thing and a chunky thing will look cool together only to find that "fine-textured" turns to "wimpy-looking" in real life. Argh! :)

Apple, I like that idea... allowing some beds to go kinda wild while others will be planned and more managed. Those should set each other off nicely... I might have to chew on that some more for my yard, now that you mention it.

Kati said...

I plan and plan and plan, making lots of revisions on paper. Then, reality sets in, or as you say, I make adjustments in the garden to my ideas. My sister on the other hand, seems to just buys stuff and pop it in the garden and her garden is beautiful. I think she visualizes it in her head first, however.

Kathi said...

I tried planning my garden once - but then it kind of took a turn of it's own. And I'm weird - I mix my veggies with my flowers too. I grew red cabbage this year and it is much too beautiful to be just in the veggie garden - although that is where it ended up.

Annie in Austin said...

The full length of the canna/amaranth border is great, Kim. I guess Chuck is right and we should all post a wide shot once in a while!

When we first bought the house we did make general sort of plans, after observing how we moved through the spaces, what we wanted to see out the windows, and where the sun and shadows fell, but they weren't specific as to the kind of plants and the exact location,

Maybe I'd plan everything out if I were making a new garden in an empty lot, but what we're doing is remaking. In addition to action, there's also a lot of reaction in gardening - a tree may die, an outbuilding wear out and need replacing, neighbors make changes to their property that affects one's own. If your plan calls for a shade plant, but a couple of big tree limbs die and the area becomes sunny, what good is the plan?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Ottawa Gardener said...

I am debating on whether to plant love-lies-bleeding. It does look beautiful in your garden. Right now I am attracted by mullien. Don't ask me why. I find the 'common' weed one less than attractive.

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