Starter Perennial Garden

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Growing up, I was surrounded by gardens. Vegetable gardens at both my home and at my grandmother’s, and a big yard with perennial gardens everywhere. There weren’t any kids in my neighborhood, so when I was in elementary school, I spent my afternoons in my next door neighbors’ front yard, picking weeds and planting flowers and snacking on American cheese.

This past year has been my first opportunity as an adult to actually plant my own garden. Having a garden – a real one, not a New York City balcony herb garden and some succulents in my window – has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Now, after countless Martha Stewart magazines, a few coffee table books, and endless pins, I have a yard with ample space for florals and veggies. Hence including the goal to start and maintain a perennial garden on this year’s summer checklist!

Last year, I planted a few hostas, some daffodils, and a hydrangea – and then basically walked away, because school took over my entire life. This year, I took on the gardening task early.

I started a greenhouse and grew some annuals and perennials from seed – nasturiums, morning glory, geraniums, marigolds (with some very old seeds), and a few other flowers I picked up at the store.

Then I got to work.

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See those grasses in the back of this dirt patch? This WHOLE DIRT PATCH was full of those grasses, and Mike and I got to work digging up those messy grasses and creating a clean slate for an entryway garden.

Once the garden patch was dug, I put down some Jobe’s Organics Annual and Perennial Flower Food, then a layer of organic soil I picked up at my favorite farm, The Farmer’s Daughter, then a repeat of both layers.

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Luckily, my mom has endless (seriously, endless) hostas in her backyard, so she brought me over a few of those, some irises, and some other perennials from her gardens to fill the space.

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I also added in some annuals (red salvia) for some color while I waited to see if the new perennials would take and hold.

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Spoiler alert – THEY DID! Those tall ones in the very front of the garden that just look green have white flowers coming out all along the stalks, and the hostas have bloomed into beautiful purple stalks.

This garden below, I dug out last year. If you look really hard, you can see the little and some budding leaves from a white hydrangea. The blooms are starting out as white with blue edges, so it seems the soil in the garden is a bit acidic.

I had thrown in some daffodil bulbs last year, which bloomed this spring, and this year I added in some annual snapdragons, an iris or two, and a bush (left corner) that I’m fairly sure is a strain of lamb’s ear. The yellow bush was already there, and I’m hoping to train it to grow along the side of our house, into the latticework.

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Finally – a small garden in front of our porch, where I planted the hostas last year. This year, I added a “honeymoon” flowering plant (in honor of my wedding coming up), which has yet to bloom. I also added in a bleeding heart as well as some of the same flowering perennials I added along our walkway.

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Next to the stairs, I am cultivating some lavender — which I hope will grow vertically, and also spread to block that little hole under our stairs and give me some extra plant to split off to somewhere else. I love the smell of lavender (remember my lavender sugar scrub from last summer?) and I’m hoping to harvest it next year to make some lavender lemonade cocktails (inspired by an old Brooklyn favorite, Lavender Lake) and to make some natural, relaxing bath salts.

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PS – all of those flowers I tried to grow in the greenhouse? Most of them didn’t bloom. I got a few nasturiums, and even a couple of big orange blooms I threw into a salad (yum!). The geraniums – no blooms yet. But my little plants are growing, and I hope to winter them in my greenhouse.

My hope is that next year, the hostas will mound and fill some space, the lavender will spread, and the rest of the perennials will survive and produce more blooms so that I can spread the garden down the side of our entire house.

I am TOTALLY NEW to this garden game, and open to suggestions all around! Please message me or comment if you have any ideas that think might work for my home.

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