Gardening With What You Have

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Tweaking The Garden, One Step At A Time

 Making the most out of whatever I have to work with is what I 'm all about, and by that I mean the plants, site or whatever design I've inherited. Just about every garden that I ever worked on - including my own, has had problems that needed to be solved.  Things like the existing plants-often a weird assortment of stuff that's overgrown or planted in the wrong spot can make me want to pull my hair out. And then there's the site... it might be poor soil and relentless sun, shade and big tree roots, or steep slopes and invasive weeds - well,you get the picture.

There's usually plenty of good things around too, but sometimes it takes awhile to see it. Often the problems turn out to be gifts in disguise.  


 What am I talking about?


I'll start with my own garden.  

Twelve years ago my husband and I purchased a little cottage in a lakefront community in upstate New York. It was cute, cozy, needed no work (ha!) and was only 100 steps to the shoreline of Lake Ontario, I liked the fact that most of the windows and doors opened out into what would be our future garden. Here it is in its early stages....


front garden


I couldn’t wait to get started. We inherited a few trees, some oddly pruned shrubs, and a motley mess of perennials. Most of our money was going into fixing up the house, so we decided to work on the garden in stages. I knew I was in trouble when I started digging- after the first inch of topsoil my shovel hit sand, pebbles and rocks. Yikes! This  was a gardeners nightmare - beating down western sun, soil that wouldn’t hold moisture and relentless winter winds that damaged and killed my plants.


I spent a lot of backbreaking days wheel-barrowing in compost and manure to amend the soil. Even so, it remained dry and lean, and the plants required constant watering.

In addition to all this, there were a bunch of eyesores in our front yard – an ugly cement sidewalk, the boat in our neighbors yard, and a glaring street lamp that blinded us when we wanted to sit outside in the evening. 


Even though maintaining and designing gardens has been my career for most of my adult life, this little quarter acre plot has truly humbled me. My relationship with it has spanned emotions that run from despair to delight, and I’ve had to learn to roll with what I’ve got.


entrance garden


 This is what it looks like now, and it's still a work in progress that has taught me a lot about plants, less than perfect conditions and how to make  the most of what I have. I hope you'll follow my ongoing adventures with it, along with a few others I've designed and some that just inspire me.






Viewing Year:
It's Not Easy Being Green: Rethinking Holiday Containers
Christine Froehlich 11/20/2017 Comments
It's Not Easy Being Green: Rethinking Holiday Containers   Every year I tell myself I'm done with decorating, but now that the holidays are approaching, I've caved to decking the halls again - starting with my outdoor containers. But unless I completely rape the few arborvitae, sparse number of hollies and smallish boxwood on my property, I don't have enough greens to fill them. Buying evergreens is way too pricey, so I began rethinking it. Maybe it doesn't all need to be green! Read on for some ideas that might help you.   
Get In The Mood: Strategies For Gardeners Who Hate To Weed
Christine Froehlich 10/24/2017 Comments
Get In The Mood: Strategies For Gardeners Who Hate To Weed   Need a little help getting going on those weeding jobs? It's all in how you think about it. Take a look at some strategies that work for me.
Plants That Bring You Joy - Or Not
Christine Froehlich 09/24/2017 Comments
Plants That Bring You Joy - Or Not    Why keep plants that aren't bringing you joy? Sometimes you just have to put your foot down if you want a better garden.
Fantastic Fences - Fun And Funky In The Garden
christine froehlich 08/24/2017 Comments
Fantastic Fences - Fun And Funky In The Garden   There's no end to the fun you can have in a garden, and that includes the fences. Here's how Buffalo, NY. gardeners  turn them into works of art.  
One Thing Leads To Another: Artistry In The Garden
Christine Froehlich 07/14/2017 Comments
One Thing Leads To Another: Artistry In The Garden   It's funny how doing one thing in a garden seems to lead to another project. Sometimes the results provide unexpected surprises. Take the arborvitae arch I wrote about in my last post. I would have been content to let it be, but my husband  insisted that we needed a wrought iron gate to complete the look. If you're in to recyling and how to projects, you might like this one.  
From Mistake To Masterpiece: An Easy Plant Fix
Christine Froehlich 06/13/2017 Comments
From Mistake To Masterpiece: An Easy Plant Fix   What can you do when you make planting bloopers like this? I confess that I've made my fair share of them, but this goes down as one of the most embarrassing. The good news is that you can fix problems like this. Read on to find out how I turned my mistake into a masterpiece.   
Planting Fundamentals: Practical Tips For Placing Perennials
Christine Froehlich 05/13/2017 Comments
Planting Fundamentals: Practical Tips For Placing Perennials   When it comes to planting, proper placement is everything. You might have a bunch of great plants, but if you don't have enough of them or they're scattered all about, they won't show up well and you'll have big bare spaces that invite weeds to the party. Get the most bang for your buck from your garden by learning a few simple techniques to increase beauty and reduce maintenance.
Feed Me, I'm Hungry
christine froehlich 04/07/2017 Comments
Feed Me, I'm Hungy   Does your garden need a little help? Start from the ground up by feeding the soil. Quit getting rid of your leaves, spent grasses and other garden debris and use them to nurture your plants.    
I Want The Wow
christinefroehlich 03/09/2017 Comments
I Want The Wow   Achieving the wow factor in your garden isn't just about  the newest up and comers in the plant catalogues. It's what we do with the plants we choose that counts! Check out this weeks post to see how.
Some Like It Dry
Christine Froehlich 02/11/2017 Comments
Some Like It Dry   Every February I look for ways to make next years garden better...and less work! This summer I want to water less. If you want to use plants that can tolerate dryness and do double duty-inside and out, read on.  
Snow Gardening
Christine Froehlich 01/12/2017 Comments
 Snow Gardening   What do gardeners do in the winter other than collect seed catalogues and tend to their indoor plants? Personally, I spend a lot of time looking out the window wishing I had planted more berrying shrubs, conifers and such to keep me entertained. What makes a winter garden a wow? If you want to bump up your garden for winter, try incorporating some of these elements into your garden.  

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