Gardening With What You Have

Welcome To Gardening With What You Have!

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:
Get With The Program: Learn How To Garden Adaptively
Christine Froehlich 08/20/2019 Comments
In my head, I feel about 25, but each spring, my garden brings me back to reality. I’m not a kid anymore. My aching back, knees and feet remind me that I’m growing older along with all of my plants – only they look better and complain less. Want some ideas on how to make changes? Check out my review on Toni Gattone's new book 'The Lifelong Gardener: Garden With Ease And Joy At Any Age.
Oh No, Now What? 7 Ways To Perk Up A Weary Garden
Christine Froehlich 07/31/2019 Comments
Eek! I can hardly get down the path. Around mid-summer, gardens can get out of hand quickly. What was lush in June suddenly looks overgrown, tired and sloppy. It's too early in the game to let the garden go down the tubes!  Here's how to perk it up.      
Get To The Point! How To Zero In On The Best Focal Points
Christine Froehlich 06/30/2019 Comments
Why are focal points are important? You don't necessarily need to include one, but it gives your eye a place to land, especially important in a small space. If you've ever floundered around not knowing what to do next, this is for you.  
Shapes First: Design 101
Christine Froehlichh 05/29/2019 Comments
It's hard to keep your head when you start buying trees and shrubs. It's easy to get sidetracked on beautiful flowers,cool branching habits or flashy foliage. A good way to start? Focus on shapes to narrow down the choices.   
Made In The Shade: 8 Annuals To Add Pizazz To Your Garden
Christine Froehlich 05/01/2019 Comments
  Finding interesting annuals for a shade garden can be tough. Lots of flowers prefer full sun and sometimes foliage plants just don't hold their color. If you're searching around for something a little different, read on.   
Patience In A Pot: 7 Ways To Get The Most From Your Plants
Christine Froehlich 04/04/2019 Comments
Don't you hate waiting for plants to get big? Practicing patience in pots helps. By that I mean container gardening - and I'm not just talking about the ornamental factor. In my efforts to have what I want, I've discovered more practical uses for stashing plants in pots. Read on to find out what they are.
Gardening On The Other Side Of The World
Christine Froehlich 03/05/2019 Comments
Gardening On The Other Side Of The World In February, I escaped winter and flew off to the tropics of Vietnam where just about anything grows. I found it fascinating to see how they garden on the other side of the world and wanted to share it. If you're fed up with winter, and want to see bodacious greenery and flowers, read on.
From Dormant To Delightful: How To Force Branches Into Blooms
Christine Froehlich 02/06/2019 Comments
Chomping at the bit to see flowers again? Prune some branches off the flowering shrubs and trees you have in your yard. Just about any deciduous tree or shrub can be coaxed into bloom inside. Here's how to do it.   .
Bump It Up With Gold: 10 Top Plants On The No Kill List
Christine Froehlich 01/18/2019 Comments
Want to add a little bling in your garden? There's nothing like a blast of gold foliage to liven things up. Adding beauty doesn't mean more work - it's all about choosing bulletproof plants that do the job. Check out my 10 favorites.          

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