Life in the Garden - My Garden
I have been thinking about this for a long time. I don't think there is any aspect of gardening that I don't enjoy. I gave up on veggie gardening in my home garden, but I love everything about plants and design. I have several plants that I propagated myself and now crucial to the design while yielding beautiful cut flowers and keeping pollinators happy.
I stopped working when I had kids. I had been very dedicated to my job (it was related to long term financial risk and I am not going to get into it), but gardening had been my passion ever since I bought some Felcos.
We moved into our home about 25 years ago. It's a quarter-acre, long, narrow rectangle (about 60 feet x 180 feet). It's not a perfect rectangle, but it's close enough. Our street runs north/south and the front of the house faces east. The house is about 50 feet back from the street and centered in the lot (more or less, the driveway is on the north side). We have a wrap around porch with a southeast exposure. There were six enormous trees on our property, and three of them are still there (two pin oaks and a norway maple). We had a beautiful locust tree that was too close to the house (a huge branch fell off on the porch during one of our first nor'easters). We loved the trees, but they were too much for a relatively small garden.
The three trees that remain create perfect shade in the back garden. Their crowns are very high (about 30 feet off the ground), so it's mostly shady in the summer, but the high branches make it pretty bright. I am slowly converting the entire back yard into a woodland mixed border with three seating areas. It's not big (about 45 feet by 90 feet), but there is plenty of room.
My big lesson is that there is more room than you think: I am very happy that I divided it into separate areas. Most people create an "outdoor room" right by their backdoor and they wind up hovering within 15 feet of their house and the rest of their garden is wasted. I think this is a huge mistake - my first design priority is to give people a reason to get away from the house.
The detached garage is in the back. We never put our car in it and one of our oak trees was eating the driveway, so I reclaimed the area for the garden. The driveway ends near the house and we have gravel and slate walkway that goes from the back door to the garage. The garage is now a giant shed, and my dream is to make it some sort of greenhouse. The potting and compost area are behind the garage. My trees create the raw materials for compost, and I do not see why everyone thinks composting is so complicated. If you put plant material in a pile, it will rot and create compost. You don't really need to know more than that, and a little patience (laziness) eliminates the work.
We have started a belgian fence with apple trees on the south border of the house. I am being ruthless about contorting the trees, so they are very small and I don't expect any apples for a few years (I started the fence last year, in 2017).
The front garden borders the street (no sidewalks) and it gets a lot of sun. Our street doesn't get much car traffic, but there are lots of kids and pedestrians who walk by our garden. I have a horseshoe shaped mixed border there, which started as two borders, one by my front porch and one by the street, which I connected by including the area by the driveway. I love gardening there because I see my neighbors. It's too hot to work there in the afternoon, so I go out there when the sun is low (often with coffee or a cocktail). It is very public, so I try to keep it tidy and blooming. I have flowers from January (witch hazel) to November (native asters and perennial mums), and enough evergreen shrubs and "winter interest" perennials to keep it interesting. It's a balancing act, and my plant choice involves a complicated algorithm to optimize bloom time, foliage interest, footprint size, work required, and that is before I even consider how it works in the design.