November 6, 2010

My Accidental Garden

I never thought of the berm at the edge of our property as a "garden".  Firstly, because I did not dig it and plant it myself originally.  It was installed by a contractor we hired to dump dirt in a curving line with his big machines, and then plant five chunky spruces and four little hollies on it in 2005.
Spring, 2006
Summer, 2007
Secondly, I don't think of it as a garden because there are no flowers.  It's all just trees and shrubs.  I planted a shrub groundcover at the front, yellowroot, which I wrote about here.  I added some clethra at each end, which I wrote about here.   In the very front I planted a river birch, which was a bare root twig from Arbor Day when I put it in.
Summer, 2008
Summer, 2009
Thirdly, I didn't think of this as a garden space because I didn't tend it.  The river birch shot up all on its own. The clethra and the yellowroot have filled out and spread with no intervention from me.   The hollies have rounded out and the spruces have fattened up by themselves.  I don't fuss over this part of my yard.

And last (fourthly?) I never considered this whole area ornamental.  It was purely functional.  It was put in to screen us from the street, especially in winter.
First winter, '05 -'06, not screening very much yet.
But one day this autumn I looked up from some late season garden task, and said "oh my, what a gorgeous garden."

It really is a garden, in every sense of the word.  It's ornamental, it's functional, it's layered and well composed, it's healthy and growing.  And, on that fall day that I noticed, it gave me such a stab of pleasure, that I immediately thought: "my garden".  It is no accident.  It is my creation.


  1. Bravo. Your surprise garden is gorgeous. You can be quite proud of it.

  2. "Accidental" gardens are the *best*. Those spruces look like the most perfect Christmas trees. The border has filled in beautifully!

  3. This is amazing! I love the transitional photos. Thanks for sharing. We are just starting a garden on a new property and planted many trees. They are so small right now - you wonder when, if ever, you'll see them change. But your photos are evidence that in 5 short years a big change can happen.

  4. Lisa, thanks! I am quite proud as you can tell :)

    sweetbay, I've been tempted every year to put lights on the "Christmas trees" but never did. They're way too big now!

    Marguerite, You will see real change in five years... at first it seems like nothing will ever look any different, then one day it fills in and you will start to see the design you had planned. Gardening with trees and shrubs is all about patience!

  5. Nicely put, and lovely photos!

  6. C.L., thanks for stopping by!


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