Introduction: Deb's Garden in Iowa 2012

I have been gardening since 1977.  I have grown and tried to grow many different things.  This instructable is less about how to garden and more about the gardening philosophies I have developed over the years. 

First, you will notice a recurring character in my pictures.  That is Blackie, a stray cat we brought in a couple years ago.  I have always had a cat or two.  They were all indoor/outdoor cats, so I have had to be careful about using chemicals in the yard and garden.  This means a lot of weed pulling instead of spraying with herbicide.

We compost much of our yard waste and make use of our community yard waste site.  We can bring weeds and brush out there and bring home beautiful compost and wood chips for mulch.  Mulch can help keep weeds down, and the compost improves the clay heavy soil I have around here.  I rarely use fertilizer.

Step 1:

For me gardening is an on going process.  No flower bed is ever done.  No plant is permanent.  I am always creating new garden areas and moving plants to different , more appropriate spots.  Much of what I have planted in the last 10 years has greatly overgrown the estimated size I was led to expect.  Or it completely died right away.

What follows is a walk around my yard with commentary about each area.  I hope you enjoy the pictures and pick up some info you can use in your garden.

Step 2:

Spring came early this year in North Central Iowa.  The bulb garden I planted last fall came up with a beautiful display of tulips and daffodils.

Around back the pink flowering almond put on a beautiful display backdrop for some daffodils.

Step 3:

The magnolia bloomed very early this spring.  It was covered in blossoms for a couple weeks.  The quince bloomed about the same time and the crab apple trees bloomed shortly after.  You  can see the wood chip mulch around the quince and crab apple trees.

Step 4:

We have a tall old pine tree in the back yard.  I like the limb growth style, but it was weedy and had a lot of dead and broken limbs.  We cleared all the weeds out from under the tree and trimmed out the dead branches.  Then we spread landscape fabric out under the tree and covered with the wood chip mulch from the yard waste site.  Eventually I would like to have a bench under the tree.  I have the slab of granite I want to use.  I have to figure out the base for it.  Another project down the line.

Step 5:

Another area I worked on this spring is a neglected back corner of the property with an old decaying picnic table and lots of weeds.  I pulled the table out and cleaned up the weeds.  We dug up an area and installed black plastic edging.  We amended the soil with compost from the yard waste site and I planted Hollyhock, Delphinium, Daisy, and Wild Geranium.  I want an old-fashioned feel to this flower garden.

I will be fixing the picnic table with new table top and benches.  Another project for the future.

Step 6:

Now we have some pretty flower pictures from around my yard.  The flaming orange red lilies have been a strong presence for many years.  The rambling rose bloomed for the first time this year, even though it has been planted for 6 years.  I was going to pull it out if it did not bloom this year.  It will probably be transplanted to my new rose garden.

I have that one lone delphinium, but the columbine grows and re-seeds itself like a weed.  It grows all over my gardens.

One picture of the allium has a butterfly on it and one has a tiny grasshopper on it.

Step 7:

Speaking of rose gardens, we planted one yesterday.  The grass and weeds were removed, the plastic edging set in and the soil amended with compost.  I planted three hybrid teas and one gradiflora rose, all in peach, pink and yellow shades.  The tall plant at the end is a rose of sharon.  It is white with purple shadings.  The bed was covered with wood chip mulch.  I will be moving the red rambler rose to this area with a trellis to support it.

Step 8:

This is the next project on my list.  This pampas grass started as a little stand by that window.  Even stainless steel sheets stuck in the ground around it would not contain this grass.  I need to relocate it to a clump in the middle of the yard that can be mowed around.  This is one area I may use a chemical to control the problem.  It spreads by runners underground, and if all are not removed they readily start to grow again.  I will try to remove it all, but I may use some herbicide sparingly and reluctantly.  Blackie will not be allowed in that area if I do.  That will be a challenge.  I will probably have to dig up the peonies, too.  Then I will need a new garden to put those in.  It just goes on.

Step 9:

This is our compost maker, tucked away in a shady corner of the yard.  The hostas are in a flower bed of compost.  I had a stacked paver wall containing the area until the compost settled and the wall caved in.  I am taking it apart little by little and will re-build the wall.

The hostas travel around to the back yard and you can see the fruit garden in the distance.  The currants are ripening up, and will be used for Currant Cookies.  I also have strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, huckleberries, and cherry trees.  Oh yeah, there is also a beautiful grape vine with lots of grapes starting.

Step 10:

This is how the front looked in March, and the second pictures show the Japanese Maple we just planted.   Gardening can be hard work, but I love having flowers around.  It feeds my creativity and I like being outside. 

My cat, Blackie, refuses to be tethered and I refuse to let him wander in the neighbor's yards, so we came to an agreement.  He will hang around as long as I am paying attention to him.  I follow him around the yard with a bucket and a tool to chop out weeds.  That helps me keep up with the maintenance and lets the cat be outside. 

I hope this has inspired you for your own yard and that you enjoyed the pictures.

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