Before it was a garden

Even though the temperatures have warmed up a little bit and are staying around the freezing mark, for some reason I'm feeling exceptionally cold tonight. So I thought I'd take a look through my photo archives and find some photos from this past summer that would warm me up a bit.

Instead I found all of the old photos of my yard, before it was a garden.


These first three are from 1990. Notice how there are trees (black locust) and lawn, and nothing else.

I think I'm standing about where my veggie garden is now in that shot.

This next one looks like the same viewpoint as a recent photo, so let's compare:

That was 1990, and this is 2010:

(Wait, let me check to make sure I didn't mix up the dates, as it's hard to tell which photo is which. Nope, I got it right.) It's not exactly the same viewpoint, but you get the idea.

Let's jump 10 years ahead of the first photos (or 10 years back from the recent photo) to 2000. How do things look?

Still not much going on. I do have some wildflowers and/or weeds in a patch along the side of the house, and that really marked the start of my garden and love of gardening. The backyard is still pretty much the same as it was in 1990, except I may have lost a few trees:

Obviously this was taken in early winter, but it shows how b-o-r-i-n-g the yard was. You can see one tree on the left leaning at a precarious angle. That's how most of these trees went down: lean, lean more, slowly ease to the ground after a good soaking rain.

This one is a little more appropriate right now, but still pretty boring:

So let's jump ahead a few years to 2003:

As you can see I've got some of my raised beds (or "boxes" as I call them) built, and have a wild mixture of flowering plants -- mainly scarlet sage from what I can see -- and some perennials in place. Here's a more recent photo:

You can see some of the plants are still there 6 or so years later: the red Japanese blood grass, the large miscanthus grass on the right, but there have been lots and lots of changes too.

One thing I've realized is that I don't have photos from every year, nor do I have photos taken from the same vantage point for easy comparison. I regret both of those oversights, and strongly suggest that you start taking "reference" photos of your yard, even if you have no garden and don't think you ever will. Someday you may, and old images to compare to will not only be entertaining, but reaffirming.

I certainly didn't know in 2000 that in just a few years I'd become obsessed with growing plants and would be completely transforming my yard. (I also would never have guessed in 1990 that my 30 locust trees would someday be gone.) I'm glad I have some photos to compare with, but wish I had more.

I'll be digging up more old photos soon, hopefully with more of the modern comparison shots too.

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Steve Lau  – (December 16, 2010 at 10:04 AM)  

In the snow picture it looks like you can plant a lot more bamboos by clearing out some of those trees and bushes in the background if that is part of your property.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (December 16, 2010 at 11:01 AM)  

Wow, I've never seen the evolution (or transformation) of a yard documented so completely. Most of the time (and that includes us) you don't take pictures of your yard when you're not interested in it. It's not until later when you wish you had.

By the way, what happened to your locust trees?

Alan  – (December 16, 2010 at 11:20 AM)  

Steve -- the "wooded" strip behind my yard is common ground. I've already cut down most of the bush honeysuckle that was on my property. I wouldn't want to remove the trees, but may still be able to fit another planting or two back there somewhere, but all of the tree roots make it difficult to rhizome prune.

Alan  – (December 16, 2010 at 11:21 AM)  

Gerhard -- some fell naturally, and some were taken down before they had a chance to fall. I'll do a post on this soon.  – (March 5, 2011 at 2:41 PM)  

You've done an amazing job on your garden. I love the use of grasses ... as always, I am learning from you.

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