View from the Garden: The Beauty and Variety of a Personal Garden

Photo: Anastasy Yarmolovich/123rf

My garden is comprised of plants that interest me. Somehow, I’ve been able to put together everything—vegetables, flowers, leafy plants—in a way that works. Gardens that are very personal statements are my favorites. I like to see evidence of the individual who created the garden, and keeps creating it.

I plant and maintain three vegetable gardens. In the height of summer, it seems like the plants triple in size during the week. In the past, I haven’t grown a vegetable garden for myself, but this year I planted green beans, potatoes and tomatoes. One of my coworkers planted cucumbers for himself (and me).

Now, I realize I should have planted veggies in the past as I enjoy having them in my own garden. I don’t have the best soil, the sun isn’t very plentiful and my watering schedule isn’t consistent. But despite these harsh conditions the plants still produce! They’re indomitable.

If you don’t have a vegetable garden, you can still grow tasty veggies amongst your flowers or in pots. One of those big tomato plants would look beautiful next to some colorful blooms. I would be brave and plant beans from seeds. What have you got to lose? Beans grow as either bushes or vines. I prefer vines: they produce until the first frost. New beans keep coming as long as the vine is alive. Bush beans provide several pickings, but are best when new seeds are planted about every three weeks. I like to see structures in my garden, so I build bamboo teepees for the bean vines to wind around. The garden centers still have some vegetable plants, but hurry—they’ll all be snapped up soon.

In mid-August I’ll plant seeds for a fall crop of kale, carrots and beets. If I didn’t have a “real” vegetable garden at home, I’d make sure to find space in my flower garden for a few seeds. If you do this, you might be inspired to make a small plot next year!

The lotus plant in a large plastic pot next to my small pond is finally sending up leaves, and I await its yearly bloom. I’ve had this plant for at least 11 years—in the same pot, in the same location. I don’t do anything for it except water it when I add water to the pond. The lotus produces only one flower per year, but some of my neighbors come over to see the bloom. The bud takes about one week to develop and the flower lasts three days. The whole process is magical, I think.

I’m not the best gardener at my own house—the shoemaker’s children, as the expression goes—but the plots I tend at my home are certainly examples of my sense of gardening beauty, growing and maintenance philosophy, and a place to experiment with design and individual plant varieties.

I don’t have much of a lawn, but the spaces between my various garden beds are now ablaze with Lychnis coronaria (rose campion), with its magenta flowers above gray foliage. The rose campion is accented by the small, daisy-like flowers of tansies I planted in the same area, and purple verbena that regrew from last year. There’s also the even darker purple of a Red Dragon contorted hazel plant that contrasts nicely with an assortment of low plants with variegated (two tone) leaves. In the back, I’m “experimenting” with a patch of red heuchera (another foliage-focused plant, this one with bright red leaves as the name would suggest) and the addition of three orange roses that I just had to have. They definitely make for a very personal “garden statement” that, I think, surprises passersby!

Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener, landscaper and consultant. For gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067.

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