"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. " ~Lindley Karstens

Monday, August 9, 2010

My New Playground In The Garden

I have not been able to keep up my posting lately, but I have certainly been busy working in my garden!

For those who have been reading my blog for a while, you know my available gardening space is just the narrow strip of the grass land around my house. Ever since we moved in one year ago, I have been doing lots of digging to convert those lawn strips into the flower beds little by little.

This is one of those flower beds I converted and created from the scratch. 

With my frequent nursery trips, and pass-alongs from my friends, every flower bed I converted has been filled up rather quickly, and the extra plants have been waiting in their original containers for being put in the ground. 

I knew it was the time to open another piece of strip!

This time, I chose the west side of the house which is also fenced in, and connected to the backyard flowerbed shown above.  My guess is that the previous owner might have used this area as their dog's play area.  Since this area is between our house and the neighbour's two story houses, it only gets about three hours of sun when the sun is right over the head.  I figure I can use this place to grow those partial shade plants.

This is also a low point area that always forms water puddles after a heavy rain. Since we use this area to haul the soil and gardening material from the front to the back yard, the grass can not grow very well with high traffic. So the plan is opening a raised flower bed against the wall, and then converting the left over strip into a path way.

The below shows how it looked like right after we removed some grass along the wall.  At the farther end of this strip is the irrigation pump system that enables us to to use the backyard lake water as the gardening water source. 

I immediately planted the Datura (Devil's Trumpet) next to the rain barrel. This bush already has a handful buds on it, each one will open to a beautiful purple double flower.

After putting the border and dumping dozen bags of soils, finally here it is!   It is about 17 by 5 feet strip, not big, but it is certainly a new playground for me!

Those candidate containers were brought to the playground immediately by this excited gardener to see how they can fit together...

We finished the creation of this bed two weekends before.  My plan was using the weekday evenings to actually put the plants into the ground.  However, I woke up last Monday morning with very bad back pain.  I must have strained it somehow with all those digging and carrying the soil...  I had no choice but delaying the plan, and only planting those plants in my mind.  I felt like a kid who could not play the new toy she just received...itchy!

After patiently waiting for four days, I finally felt much better on my back last Thursday evening, and then immediately started to execute the plan that has been going over and over in my mind.

In addition to the Datura that was first put in, the Cornutia grandifolia (Troipical Lilac) bush (or a small tree) was put at the furthest end of the flower bed.  In the middle, another passalong Brugmansia (Angel's Trumpet) is planted.  I was told its flowers are Pink, different from the white one I have in another flower bed.

Neomarica caerulea 'Regina' (Giant Apostle's Iris) has been growing a lot in the container since I bought it in May, so I divided it into two sections and put them at the either side of the pink Brugmansia .

One Pachystachys lutea (yellow shrimp plant) is moved from the other bed, and planted next to the Datura.  I think the yellow flower against the purple flower and dark trunk of the Datura would look nice.

In front of the Giant Apostle's Iris and Brugmansia is the Spathoglottis (also know as Ground Orchids). This clump was originally divided from the two pots I purchased in February. Now itself is ready to be divided into two! Look all the flower heads on this plant!

Other plants that don't show well in the picture are: Orthosiphon stamenis (Cat's Whiskers), Schefflera arboricola 'Variegata', Augusta rivalis (Needle Flower), two Kalanchoes.

With our recent rainy days, my already limited gardening time has been interrupted frequently.  I still have the Coleus, Canna lily and Torenia fournieri (Wishbone plant) waiting for me to put into the ground, and may be also some begonias if space permits. 

Oh boy, seems this flower bed is filled up already!

Even it is still a work in progress, I just can not wait any longer to show you my new playground and what I have put into it (and hope this explains why no new posts recently?  :)  

There are still a lot more to do with this project: mulching the bed, building the path way.... 

Too many to-dos, too little time.   But at the end of the day, looking my rather boring grass strip is slowly being converted to the beautiful flower bed piece by piece, I felt the great satisfaction knowing I am one step closer to my goal, even with sore muscles all over my body  :)

I will show you the update of this area when I finish its look!  Have a great week ahead!

**I still plan to write more posts about my China trip.  Just it is not on the top of my to-do list at this moment.  Thanks all of you who loved my China posts for the nice comments, and I promise I will share with you more later.  **


  1. It's always fun to have a new place to play, and you've done a great job with it! Beautiful!

  2. Know just what you mean about wanting to play in the garden. I'm knee deep in wedding plans for my daughter and my post surgery pain has limited me. Glad your back got to feeling better and I love your new area!!

  3. Hurray for you. A new garden and it is looking wonderful too. You've done a great job so far with this area and I know it brings you joy.


  4. Love it,love it,love it!! Don't you just love creating a new garden area?It's just so much fun.
    It's going to look great when it all fills in.

  5. What a lovely new bed you are creating. It is going to look great with the pathway. I really like the way it continues the look with your current backyard bed. Having them on opposite sides will curve the pathway beautifully. Your plants look so healthy and happy. That ground orchid is gorgeous.

  6. Hi Ami I just knew you would have to start to dig up some areas of grass. I think you've filled up that new bed really well - plants look to be in great proportion to each other as you've planted some really decent sized ones in the bed so the structure is there already.

    I hope your back pain has now completely eased - it must have been so frustrating for you not to be able to get out there - I know....... I too have been in the exact same situation with my back too just as a new project was underway.

    Look forward to more China posts....... I too have been really busy and have not visited you as often as I would have liked since you came back home.

    Have a lovely week :) Rosie

  7. Grower Jim: Yes, it is always fun, only I am afraid I will soon be running out the new place to play :)

    Darla: You have a lot going on in your life right now. Planning a wedding for your daughter is lots of work although I know you are enjoying it at the same time. Hope you can recover from your post surgery pain soon.

  8. Flowerlady, Chris:

    Thanks! The new garden area always brings the new joy to me, although the digging part is still not the part I real enjoy :) The plants selection and the arrangement is the real fun though!

  9. NanaK: Yes, I can not wait for the new path way created, and see how the finish look will be. The ground orchids really took off when I was in China. A easy plant to grow, and also rewarding!

  10. Rosie: Yes, I remembered that you asked if I will take off more grass to my "Garden one year later" post, and my answer was "YES"! lol Eventually I will remove all the grass around the house, so that I can use the space to the maximum.

    Those plants have been sitting in the containers for a while, that is why they are already in big size to begin with. I am sure I will do some adjustment later, but I am glad that I can have a good start with all these plants in the new flower bed.

    I do want to make more China posts later, but found out my time is really limited now, and sorting out the pictures itself is so time consuming :)

  11. Great new playground, Ami! There's nothing more fun than a new bed to fill up. My garden is nearly full, but I am already finding the gardens of family members to play in. : )

    Your new bed is beautiful, as well as the old bed you showed in your first photos. I love those broms! Datura metel is a gorgeous, gorgeous flower! Where I live, it is an annual that does not survive the winter, though it does spread its seed.

  12. Hi Ami...It's always fun to have a new playground, and you've done a great job with your flowerbeds. Your new raised bed and pathway from the front yard to the back looks like it's going to be a very functional piece of the garden for you. At the rate you're gardening, the grass in your garden better watch out. Love your plant combinations, too.

  13. FG: It is funny that you mentioned you are playing your family members' garden. Just this past weekend, my friend, who is also my next door neighbour told me that feel free to play in their garden when I run out of space in mine! lol. Did not know the Datura metel is annual. I guess I always can start it again from the seed if it does not survive in the winter. It was started from the seed, and it grows real fast!

  14. Susan: Thanks! I can not wait for the path way to be finished since these days that becomes a muddy place with all these rain! I do think it will be a nice and functional area after the path is built.

    My goal is removing all the grass within the fence and the side of the house eventually, which is not much any way to begin with :)

  15. Hi Ami,
    What fun you are having creating a new space with so many pretty plants. You have been working hard and it shows. It is hard to tell you've only been in your house 1 year.

    I notice your Aechmea Blanchetianas look SO good... mine are not doing well and I do not know why. Very frustrating.

    Thank you for reminding me about your blog on my side bar. I also would not want to lose your link.

  16. wow, it is VERY beautiful. I love the look of the dark mulch, green plants and white of the house.

    Pretty soon you'll have all garden with just a few stepping stones here and there so you can move about!

  17. Maybe I should follow your lead and do the same in my side yard! Maybe then I can plant some bromeliads there. The aechmea blanchetianas are beautiful. Good to have you back!

  18. Meems: Thanks! Looking back, I think I have been real busy with the garden the past year. Very soon I will be running out of the space for me to play :)

    To be honest, I think it is pure luck that my Aechmea Blanchetianas grow fine since I really did not do anything to it after I put them in the ground. Maybe the location is happen to be its favored one? It is a location that will get morning to early afternoon sun, and then get the shade for late afternoon.

    Thanks for putting my blog link back to your blog side bar! :)

  19. Wendy: Thanks! I love playing the plant in a new flower bed, there are just so much opportunities, and FUN! :) Yes, no grass within the fence is my goal, hubby would love it since he will have less lawn to mown.

  20. RFG: If your house is like mine, that is very close to the neighbour's house, the chance your side garden will get more shade most of the day. This would be a great place to put bromliads that love partial shade. I read your bromeliad in full sun post, and I also think most of Neos actually love the partial shade more than full sun. It is same in my garden since I had to move a few from a sunny place to the less sunny spot.


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