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:
Imperfectly Perfect: How to To Plant On An Impossible Site
Christine Froehlich 06/24/2018 Comments
      Tough places to plant? Everyone has them. Don't we all long for rich loam, perfect drainage and just the right amount of sun? Here's an idea to try if you have less than ideal conditions.
Pots With Pizazz : Bump Up Your Containers With Perennials
Christine Froehlich 05/22/2018 Comments
Keeping up with the care of annual containers is a big job. Personally, I can never keep up with them - all that deadheading, feeding and fussing makes me nuts.  Want to try something easier? Plant perennials instead - find out how to put sizzling combinations together that look great past labor day.   
It's Out Of Hand! Tips for Keeping Hedges In Check
Christine Froehlich 04/18/2018 Comments
It seems no matter how often or well you shear a hedge it will slowly expand in height and width over time. When it starts getting out of hand, it's time to bite the bullet and do some hard pruning.     
Bromeliads Anyone? Tempting, Easy To Grow Tropicals
Christine Froehlich 03/26/2018 Comments
Bromeliads thrive in dry shade and hot humid conditions. As houseplants, they're easy to grow and if you happen to live in a tropical climate you can enjoy them in your garden. These colorful gems give you lots of bang for your buck.    
From Trash To Treasure: Fantastic Fences And Trellises
Christine Froehlich 02/20/2018 Comments
What if you want fencing in your garden and just can't fit it into your budget?  Don't let a little thing like money stop you. Take a look at some inspring projects that will get you thinking outside the box.      
Perennials And Annuals On The Want And Need List For 2018
Christine Froehlich 01/16/2018 Comments
Due to a badly sprained ankle and impossible winter weather, my recent activities have been confined to  the couch. When a bunch of seed catalogues arrived in the mailbox the other day, I was more than ready to indulge in a little plant porn. Read up on perennials and annuals worth trying.      

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