Becoming a garden: 2002

Since posting the old yard photos I found yesterday, I've located several more "historical" garden photos. After looking them over, I've decided to dedicate a couple of posts to them, showing how my yard evolved into what it is today. I thought it would be good to document, especially since the garden is continually evolving even today (or will be once spring rolls around).

Yesterday's post looked at 1990, 2000, and then jumped to 2003, but let's ignore those 2003 photos and examine 2002 today.


If you remember (way back in yesterday's post) the photos from 2000 showed a patch of wildflowers along the side of the house. I think in 2001 that patch became primarily weeds, and in 2002 I decided that I needed to do something more dramatic.

So I built several raised beds, or "boxes" as I call them. I had never built any planting boxes before, but it seemed simple enough to do. (Time revealed that the deck screws I used were not sufficient for the job and I've been replacing them over time.) For some reason I didn't take photos of every step of the construction process. I mean, who'd ever want to see that?

If I remember correctly, the main reason I built them was to help keep the plants away from rabbits. (I would later learn that they weren't 100% successful in that regard.) Once they were built, I realized that they also added a lot of visual interest to the yard.

The slope of the yard made these boxes on the side of the house a bit tricky, but I made seven different boxes in April, then spent probably 6 straight hours filling, pushing, and emptying the wheelbarrow to fill them with topsoil.

Then I planted them with perennials and annuals chosen almost at random from the garden center. I did no research, and didn't have any experience with any of the plants (other than snapdragons, which we had at my childhood house). It was all pretty much impulse buying.

I must have paid close attention to the spacing info on the plant tags because I really left them all spread out when planting.

A few months later, I had some really nice beds full of color and texture:

Not bad, and I even got the taller plants in the center!

I think this early success is what probably got me hooked on gardening. Yes, I had already committed myself somewhat by building all of the planting boxes, but nice new boxes full of disappointing plants wouldn't  have had the same effect I think.

It's interesting seeing these photos again, because I can see the Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) plant that probably was the first in what is a permanent fixture in my yard today -- I have volunteer Rudbeckia seedlings appearing everywhere now ("volunteers" are plants that grew without your interaction). A few of the perennials are still alive and even in the same places, although many of them have died and/or been moved.

I've decided not to post too many "then and now" comparison photos right now, as I'd rather use these posts to show how the garden was evolving without jumping back to the present. When I'm finished with the yard's history I'll recap with a bunch of comparison photos. Here's one comparison though:

2002. That's an animal trail formed by raccoons.

2008. The raccoons take the stairs now.

So 2002 saw me build most of the boxes, and was the first year I really started planting perennials. Although, take a look at this pretty uninteresting photo:

You can see a couple of grasses pretty much planted all alone in the center of the image: the red Japanese blood grass, and the green Miscanthus 'Gracillimus'. I may have planted those in 2001, or maybe early this year (2002) -- I can't remember and these photos don't really help. So maybe my perennial planting started in 2001, but on a limited basis.

This photo does give a hint of my "planning method" for where plants went. When a locust tree fell over and uprooted I would dig out the half-buried stump leaving a big hole which I then filled with soil and plants. How's that for careful garden bed planning?

Luckily I put this Miscanthus in a good spot because it became the "anchor" plant for pretty much the entire patio area:

I guess I had more vision than I thought I did back then.

Next up: 2003

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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (December 17, 2010 at 9:45 AM)  

Excellent chronicle. Can't wait for the continuation. I love reading about other people's gardening experience, especially if there are lots of photos to go with it.

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