There’s a Design to my Madness

I know. I know. Blog posts should be SHORT on writing and long on photos.  It’s hard for me.  I spew when I write.

Frequently, when I read other gardeners’ blogs, I want to know more about that gardener and their garden than only what’s on the surface…How did they get into gardening?  What kind of garden are they growing?  Are they a professional or an amateur?  So, I thought I’d tell you what I’ve always wanted to know as a garden blog reader.  BUT it’s LONG.

I’m a self-taught gardener, and I feel I’ve taught myself A LOT. I’ve attended many Master Gardener conferences, classes, and various other public garden talks, state and local.  I’ve listened to more than one gardening radio program every week for years.  I joined GardenWeb when it was popular. (Anyone remember heavy-handed Spike, the GardenWeb moderator?)  For 13 years, I had daily access to a biologist whose specialty was plants and ecology.  When I’ve been uncertain about my gardening, I usually researched to get opinions from those who had more experience. Finally, I own tons of garden books on both plants and design and still buy/borrow gardening books. This said, there’s always more to learn.

You might want to know what kind of garden I’m growing…What are the goals and plans.  Is there a design?  Is this a Japanese garden?  Ultra-modern beds with angles and flowers growing in straight rows?  Is it a typical American garden with beds along the perimeter of the yard and perhaps an island bed or three?

Like most Americans, my garden isn’t purebred. It’s a mutt. My hope is it won’t be a funky looking mutt with the tail of a Labrador, short legs of a Dachshund, an Afghan hound’s fur coat, and the ridiculously large radar ears of a Welsh Corgi.

I’m attracted to old world gardens with urns and stone or moss-covered brick. (Unfortunately, I don’t have the pocketbook for that.)  I like formal gardens with boxwood and Yew hedges.  I like cottage gardens where the plants rebel in color and grow neck to neck.  I like wild mysterious gardens that appear to hold secrets, but then again, I also like open fields of wildflowers.  (Excuse me while I pet the wet dog nose that just landed in my lap.)

I swear there are photos below.

My growing conditions are as follows:

  1. Quite a bit of shade, but NOT dense shade. The backyard trees are old, probably around 80 years. The trees are huge, and their canopies are high, which means there are quite a few plants that will thrive in this situation.  When I first moved in, I worried about how I would garden in shade as I’m not particularly a big Hosta fan.  I now see the shade as a blessing because the Texas sun can be fierce.
  1. Sandy loam, slightly acidic soil. I didn’t know this when I purchased the house. I’m still ecstatic about my dirt’s buttery texture. (I gardened on caliche previously, which was challenging.)
  2. Approximately 45 or 46 inches of rainfall annually.
  3. I garden in zone 8a with temps that can get down between 10 & 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Oh ya, and my suburban lot is 1/3 acre. The backyard is big because the house is closer than most to the street in front.

Yes, I have a design in my head; however, I’m attempting to blend garden styles–a cottage garden alongside an eclectic recycled art garden with a touch of “old world” charm–if that’s possible.I realize these styles might easily clash with one another.  If they do, I’ll tear what offends out.

I’ve laid most of my garden bones…a brick pathway that curves before it heads to the veggie patch gate.


There are mirrored brick beds to either side of the brick pathway, as well as one bed shaped like half of a pear (not shown in the photo).

I installed a 20’ x 30’ vintage-style wire fence to enclose the vegetables.

Other bones? A mulched path that branches off of the brick path. It travels beneath an arch, beside an antique glider, and ultimately to a fake gate in the fence.  Flowering plants such as native phlox, cardinal flower, Mexican Oregano, Bridal Wreath Spirea, plumbago, Pavonia, roses, lantana, iris, lilies, Speedwell, as well as grasses and small trees (a smoke tree and possum haw holly) have been placed to either side of this path.  The goal for this garden room is to become a cottage garden at the very end of the path.



Below: Funky eclectic gate-trellis with a baby clematis planted at its base. An annual vine currently covers it.


On the other side of the yard is a casual seating area under two trees with used (free to me, but elegant) wood chairs, small side tables, and a glider.  I eventually want to install a fire pit here, but I’ve not had the time or money.  This “room” is far from finished.


Going toward the shed, I’ve planted two blueberry trees which, if successful, will be 10’ tall. On either side of the wooden privacy fence in this area are climbing antique roses, one of which I hope will cascade over the blue-framed mirror beside it.  This area is a work-in-progress.


Finally, I have the UGLY area where the shade is a tad deeper.  Here, I’ve planted three oak leaf hydrangeas and created a berm. Both the hydrangeas and the berm help to make this area its own “room.” In this room, I’ve planted a camellia, a parsley hawthorn, inland sea oats, pink Turk’s caps, a strawberry shrub, and Mountain Mint all as under-story plants. (If you need to know the pig-Latin name of any of these plants, just leave a comment.)

The ugly area is dominated by two ancient crape myrtles and an oak.    Under the influence of Pam Penick (garden designer/blogger), Pandora’s Box (cool store) and other garden bloggers, I succumbed to a stock tank water garden with fish.  It, too, sits on the perimeter of the ugly area.


Is there a particular garden style you’re attracted to? Do you combine styles? Do you do your own design or hire it out?  Do you also love garden conferences?  Life is NOT all about MY garden.  Please share


4 thoughts on “There’s a Design to my Madness

  1. Congrats on your new blog, and thanks for the shout-out for the water feature inspiration! I do love a stock-tank pond — so easy and so much enjoyment to be had from them. Anyway, happy blogging, and I look forward to following your gardening adventures online.


    1. Thanks for your positive feedback, but the photos of your own gardens from the your post attest to the fact that you are more than proficient in making lovely gardens too. Wish I could grow tulips here! I think we’re a lot alike. I look forward to more of your posts with more photos of your garden and I may yet pick your brain about hydrangeas.

      Liked by 1 person

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