It all started years ago, when my children had grown and didn't need me anymore! I had a lot of time for my own activities . I started to notice the garden in front of our building, which used to be so beautiful when I was a kid; now it was so deserted and full of weeds... no roses or other plants which used to be there, as I remembered! I wanted to reconstruct the garden as much as I could, so it would look like before and even better! On those times, all the neighbors came out to garden, especially on Sundays , when they weren't at work, but now they were old and the young ones didn't care about gardening anymore! Everytime I had a walk on the street or in the park, at the seaside or on vacation, I admired the plants and chose which one I'd like to have in my garden. My first thought was that I should get all the plant seeds I can get and so I did...I managed to gather about 2 boxes with seeds ! One by one, the plants popped out in my garden and have grown, making me so proud !
First, I planted a few of my own Geraniums and Rainlilies in some rock pots, near the entrance . It was too dark for them so , the next year, I thought I'd better start planting in the sunny part of the garden. I already had a few seeds and sowed them in pots, then planted them in the garden...my first seedlings ! I had only Impatiens balsaminas, the Touch-Me-Not which I love so much ... although they don't do so well in full sun , during summer. I planted them on both parts of the entrance, making 2 colorful lines .
In subsequent years, more plants appeared in my garden...I began calling it "my garden" as I felt it more mine than of all my neighbors' ! Besides the Impatiens balsaminas, I started a few Moon Flowers and Four o'clock (Mirabilis jalapa) seedlings , like I remembered from my childhood. I put a few in the rock pots and the rest in the garden, in full sun, arranged in a circle. Many people started to admire the garden, especially when the Moon Flowers were blooming at sunset.
The next addition to my garden were 5 seedlings of mums (Chrisanthemums) which have grown every year. I replanted them and now they are making a line from one end to another of my garden. When I replanted them, I thought they should be in a place where they can grow all summer , without covering the other plants or being covered .
A most beautiful plant, which I knew had been growing in our garden once, was the Sweet iris, Iris pallida. I had to have one to plant in my garden and so I did ! I couldn't find any to buy in a greenhouse, so I had to search for some iris rhizomes somewhere else. They weren't too far, just across the road, in a restaurant's garden... they still had those purple irises which once were growing in every garden in our neighborhood ! The gardener was so kind to give me a rhizome with leaves and I planted it immediately, though it was July. Later on, I learned how July and August are the best months for dividing the Iris ! Fully watered every day, my beautiful purple iris started to grow and now I have about 20 of it in my garden, after I divided them.
Once in a while I had gardening help: many of my neighbors were happy to sow or weed or just bring over some plants. One of the neighbors brought me a few white German Iris called 'Heady Perfume' and some Portulaca seeds. I planted the rhizomes and sowed the seeds in pots because, as she said , I have a green thumb! Now, we have white and purple Irises lined up , near the fence and a whole line, crossing the garden, behind the mums.
I planted the Portulaca babies and they are now still there, popping out every summer, from the seeds they spread on the ground.
More additions were made to my garden: a few Buxus branches, which were trimmed back from a bush in the neighborhood... I just put them in the ground and a few made roots.
Also, I brought 2 baby Mahonias, which are so beautiful now and make a wonderful evergreen during winter.
A most beautiful bush is the Japanese barberries (Berberis thunbergi). It roots so easy! I just put a little branch in a pot and watered it regularly, then repotted it in the garden.
I found a Vinca seedling in the park, under some conifers and fell in love with it ! Now it has spreaded like a beautiful carpet, between the irises and mahonia, blooming every year in spring.
On the other part of the garden, mostly shaded, I discovered a few white Hosta plantaginea and orange daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) which had been there as long as I can remember. They were covered by weeds and weren't blooming anymore! I dug and brought them out, then replanted each in different spots of the garden.
Talking about bulbs, a neighbor brought over a Spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis) which I planted in fall and divided it a few years later, in spring. I always had problems with snails which love the Spiderwort leaves! I only had to check on the plant everyday and pick up the snails...yuck...nothing else worked!
One of the oldest plants in the garden are the Hyacinthus, the Daffodils and the Spring Beauty (Scilla siberica). During the years, some trees popped out right in the middle of the Hyacinthus bedflower, so every spring and summer I had to trim them back. I divided the Hyacinthus bulbs two years ago and this spring they were all over the garden!
More plants arrived in my garden from the seeds I sowed in pots, in early spring: Gaillardia x grandiflora, Coreopsis grandiflora, Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hita), Calendula officinalis, Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) and Devil's Trumpet (Datura inoxia.)
Calendula and Datura are a bit invasive, but I kept each in their corner by ripping out the old plants and allowing the young ones , popping out from the seeds which fell on the ground, to grow. The others are growing from their roots every spring, as they are perennials : Coreopsis, Fall Aster (Symphyotrichum ) and Gaillardia .
One fall a few years ago, I sowed Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) seeds in the garden and two little brothers helped me sow them. The next spring, there were so many seedlings I thought they were weeds ! They grew but didn't bloom, so I was very disappointed and really thought they weren't the Hollyhocks I sowed. But in the second year, they grew well and finally bloomed!
My little neighbors are very proud of the huge plants which popped out, thanks to their efforts too! Later, that fall, they were also interested when I planted 13 roses and covered them with plastic bottles... they knew they were like some little greenhouses!
At first, I sowed Morning Glories (Ipomoea) in pots and then replanted it in the garden, near the fences and they were climbing all over it, blooming in different colors. Now, they are popping out right there, in the garden, from the last year seeds which fell on the ground.
An old vine is Honeysuckle (Lonicera), which I trimmed it back a few years ago and now it's growing beautifully, blooming every year more and more, spreading the scent beyond our garden, until the upper floors!
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) has a divine scent too and I have a few trees in the garden. I just have to trim back the blooms, so the seeds won't fall on the ground and make new plants.
Another plant with a magnificent scent is the Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius) which I'm always trimming back after blooming and even planted a branch which made roots, so I have two bushes now.
A big challenge was about digging out the old Forsythia intermedia bush (Spring Glory), which wasn't blooming anymore either ...I did try, but the roots were too deep! What was I to do? Luckily I found 2 rooted branches and planted them as new bushes in the garden. Also, I trimmed back the old bush so short, it took him 2 years to bloom again! I wanted to have a Forsythia bush on the opposite part, so the whole garden will be covered when they bloom. That's why I planted a long branch directly into the ground and watered it until new leaves popped out. This spring, the garden was full of yellow blooms, so beautiful!
The garden is surrounded by hedges, part made of Roses of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), part of Thuja and other bushes, very old...as I said, they go back since I was a child and this was so many years ago! I'm trimming them back twice or three times during summer, but for the old ones I had to trim back from the ground so they can regenerate and bloom again.
Now the garden in front of the block has about twenty-four species of perennials! With all the plants and seeds I collected for this garden, I'm going to start my own first garden, but that is another story!
Many thanks to our DG friends for their beautiful pics I used here: Chrimon, Crowelli, Kbaumle, ViolaAnn and Gardenguykin .