Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In the Beginning

In the beginning, our house was surrounded on 2 sides by forest.

(The pine tree to the right, which looks as though it was gauged by heavy machinery when the site for the house
was cleared, is doing just fine. It's actually a very picturesque tree. Loblolly Pines can take a lot of abuse.)

There were trees on each side of the long driveway.

From 2004, taken with a film camera and scanned in. The garden was in
its infancy. Now we park our cars where the horse stalls were then.

The big perennial bed was behind the house and backed by thick woods. Below is a snapshot of the big bed in 2005. The house is just out of sight, to the left, and the red haze in the background is Eastern Columbine. The bed by the pasture isn't planted yet.

Our passalong white iris and Climbing Old Blush its first spring in the garden.

Jesse's Song and looking toward the woods behind the old house site.

I wanted a large sunny stretch of perennials, surrounded by pine woods as we were. That was then.

This is now.

April 2010, to be more precise

The house was moved in Nov. '06 and we were able to get back into it April 1, 2007. Much more open space!

There is so much extra to mow that another bed is in the works. Thankfully the rose seedlings I put in there last January grew this year, so the bed should not look so raw next year.

The vegetable garden is half rose garden.

Now that the house has been moved and there's a lot more open space in which to garden around the house, I don't have a need for such a large perennial bed. Weeding and compost I will do but I don't want to water it. I love perennials except when they're not... perennial. If I plant drought tolerant plants we get buckets of rain. If I plant wetland plants there's no rain for weeks. The garden is in a floodplain that's often as dry as the desert. There are a few perennials tough enough to take those conditions; for example Baptisia, if protected from voles, who love it. One time I accidently mowed a 'Purple Smoke' in August and it came back the next year.

I was even able to divide it when I moved it to a safer place. lol Lucky for me that it had already formed growth buds for the next spring. Amsonia tabernaemontana is a survivor too; it goes underground when the weather is very hot and dry.

But plants that go dormant just leaves more room for the ultimate enemy in a sunny Southeastern garden: bermudagrass. Resistance is futile. It's relentless unless shaded out. Baptisia will shade it out for the most part.

So the current plan is conversion of the big perennial bed to a big bed with shrubs and perennials. This conversion has been happening anyway, only now it's a plan concocted from necessity.

To be continued...


  1. Your house looks beautiful. It must be great to live by the forest.

  2. Oh, oh, I want to come visit!!

  3. There's moving house and then there's moving the house.

    Good luck as the garden evolves.

  4. It's quite an incredible garden. And if I remember correctly the house had to be moved because of floods? I just couldn't imagine that but looks like you did a good job. You should post some pictures of the move for us sometime and how you chose the new site. Shrubs and trees-I love them all in my garden and all borders here are mixed-hence not too many sun lovers. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

  5. Your gardens have changed over the years. I love the setting of your house. It is very peaceful. I fight a constant battle with the dreaded bermuda grass in my landscaping. I told my husband the other day that if we don't get a handle on it this year, we may as well give up. Carla

  6. I love the setting for your home and garden!


  7. Those gardens look great every year, you have talent for making it happen. Looking forward to more of your gardens this year.

  8. Your house has sure been thru a lot of changes (that most don't go thru). I like the more open surroundings you enjoy in its current location. I hear you about perennials not being perennials due to weather conditions beyond our control. That happens here and seems like more frequently with the weather being so unpredictable. Shrubs and trees are probably the smartest way to go. I just saw a gorgeous garden made up entirely of a zillion different evergreens ~ it was amazing and interesting all year round.
    Whatever you do, I'm sure it will be very well thought out. I'm envious of your great stands of baptisia. That's a gorgeous perennial to have an abundance of...

  9. That was quite a project! It's so interesting seeing your before and after photos. The bed full of iris blooms is gorgeous and I love that baptisia. I'm looking forward to seeing mine bloom next summer.
    Your pink climber on the trellis is magnificent. You sure do a wonderful job with your garden. Good luck with your conversion plan.

  10. I love seeing other people's homes and learning their origination. You have really opened up your space, and I'm so glad for you. You'll get loads of gardens this way.~~Dee

  11. Your little brown house is so pretty. I bet it is nice to sit in the shade of the porch in the summer. Your irises are lovely. I especially like the purple and white ones.

  12. Your home and its setting appear idyllic! I know you must find great peace and joy in working and living there. How well I know what you mean about perennials not being perennial. I love flowering shrubs for their low maintenance, as well as their beauty.

  13. So interesting to see the new house site and the development of your garden. You have such a gorgeous setting there.

  14. I love seeing how someone's garden has evolved. I wish I had taken some photos when I first started gardening. Finding the right plants that can survive such opposite conditions is a challenge, but you seem to have succeeded with your beautiful garden today, Sweetbay.

  15. I love to see the progression of your garden. What a difference moving the houuse made! You have such a beautiful setting.

    BTW, nice house and I love the stone chimney. :)

  16. Sweetbay, I am always so amazed at how people can move their houses intact. It is wonderful you were able to do so and have more open airy space around your lovely home. Shrubberies and more shrubberies is my motto! You will find many more nests too! Good luck with all your plans. Lovely, lovely post. Your photos are so beautiful . . . but then your setting is stunning.

  17. I love evolution posts showing how a landscape has changed and how the gardener designed it. This post was wonderful, showing the steps along the way. Very few garden designs involve moving a whole house, though :-)

    Your comment about planting drought tolerant plants in a rainy year (and vice versa) has been exactly my experience! Good to know someone else is plagued by such torments .... and still has a beautiful landscape and gardens.

  18. I love seeing the evolution of your garden~and know that your new bed will be scrumptious, too. It's good to know that we can move baptisias; even though we've been told not to~gail


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