Getting Into Gardening

The other thing I’ve been busy with all spring is getting into gardening. I joined our local garden club, have been reading books and websites about what can grow in our area, and visit local nurseries to see what they recommend. So far it’s been really fun! I have a lot of work ahead of me though because we have a lot of flower beds.

The original owners of the house were a retired couple who were avid gardeners. According to our 80 year old neighbor they regularly hosted garden tours and many people passing by would stop to admire their beautiful gardens. Then the second owners of the house were well…hippies. They let everything go “natural.” In some cases that allowed wonderful native plants to spread but it also let the nasty invasive plants spread even more. The flower beds along the house disappeared into a jungle of weeds and over a dozen of volunteer trees were allowed to grow within a few feet of the house. But that is more because they were very, very lazy.

Our plan is to find a balance in between the beautiful but high maintenance gardens of the first owners and the wild overgrown “gardens” (if you want to call them that) of the second owners. Luckily, some reminders of the first owner’s gardens remain. There are a number of raised flower beds made with cedar planks that have withstood the test of time along with a lot of great plants that have filled out nicely and managed to survive 10 years of neglect from the second owners (now those are my kind of plants!). Here are some examples:


Lilac Bush, possibly ‘Charles Joy’ – This was the plant we had moved last year. Originally, it was along our driveway but the pine trees eventually choked out the majority of it’s sunlight so it grow out over the driveway. Now it’s in a nice open space with lots of sun.

(New spot)

Forsythia – Though their blooms only last a short time seeing their punch of color in early spring really melts the winter blues away.


Crab Apple Tree

Willow Tree – We’ll never know for sure but we were told the original owners planted this. It seems too big to be only 35 years old but who knows willows do grow fast.

Big Blue Conifers – Blue, evergreen, and low maintenance what more could you want?

Feather Topped Grass

Rock Garden Peony – My garden club loved this mature plant.

Surprise Lilies


Traditional Peonies


Balloon Flowers

Black Eyed Susans



Ostrich Ferns

Contained Lily of the Valley – “Contained” is the key word there. I love these fragrant blooms but they spread like crazy. So thank you original owners for containing them with the driveway!

Grape Hyacinths


Lots & Lots of Daffodils – Between the forsythia and the daffodils I think the original owner’s favorite color was yellow.


As you can see we have a lot of flower beds! What you can’t see is that most of the flower beds are actually weeds. Oh well it’s a start.

Did anyone else inherit great plants when they bought their house?



10 Responses to “Getting Into Gardening”

  1. 1 jen@homeinthecountry June 10, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Stunning photos & flowers!

    We, too, inherited many of the same flowers/flowering bushes when we moved into our home. I feel so lucky that the previous owners did such a swell job of planting! They’ve managed to plant flowers that bloom in every part of summer, which I, as a rookie gardener, totally would not have done. It’s great to be able to add my favorites (or cuttings I steal from my mom’s garden) to what’s already there instead of starting new!

  2. 2 denise June 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Wow, what great photos and what a variety you have! All we inherited were weeds, unfortunately, but at least we were able to move a few plants from our old house, 2 doors away. I feel like it’s going to take years and years before we get the yard looking nice!

    It sounds like you have a great plan for your gardens. Sometimes I think it’s easier to start with something and modify from there rather than start completely from scratch like we did. Looking forward to seeing the progress!

  3. 3 Sarah June 23, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Wow. Nice flowers!! I was wondering what camera you used to capture the beauty of those flowers. I would love to take pictures of all my flowers but thay do not come out like that.
    Is it the settings I need to play with?

    • 4 Robin June 23, 2010 at 5:22 pm

      Thanks Sarah. I use a Nikon D40 it’s a beginner camera in the DSLR world but I really love it’s versatility and price. Some of these pictures were Photoshopped too to bring out the colors or contrast.

      • 5 Sarah July 6, 2010 at 4:44 am

        is there a tutorial to bring out the contrast and colors. I think i will look at a D40 thanks!!

  4. 6 Sara @ Russet Street Reno July 23, 2010 at 4:14 am

    Holy cow, that is a lot of flowers! We inherited nothing but daylilies, everything else I planted….wah wah. I so love Forsythia, I would love to have some, but I’m all out of real estate until I start tearing up our front lawn for more planting beds!

    • 7 Robin July 23, 2010 at 4:23 am

      Yeah I know! Talk about overwhelming. The funny thing is you love hydrangeas but have a lot of sun (or it seems like from your pictures) but I have all shade…everywhere and I’d do anything to have at least a few full sun areas. In the +15 flower beds we have I only have one that is close to full sun and that’s the prairie area along the street. Wanna trade? ; )

  5. 8 Robin July 23, 2010 at 4:28 am

    If you want a free photo processing software try GIMP or Picasa. Otherwise if you want to buy photoshop you can find free actions that will help you improve photos. Many of these software companies have 30 day free trials you can try to help you decide on what to pick. Lightroom is a new favorite for beginners and is easy to use.

  6. 9 lao-ocean-girl July 28, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    This website is providing a lot of inspiration for me. I’d like to get a home within the next 2-3 years and love seeing how you’re fixing up yours.

  1. 1 Rock Wall Redo « 3 acres & 3000 square feet Trackback on September 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm

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This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
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