How does your garden grow?

Since we observed daylight saving time last weekend I've been thinking a lot about gardening. I was quickly reminded how much lighter is stays outside after I get home from work, and how in the spring and summer I would put in a solid hour of work in the garden each night. To me, it's therapeutic and a good excuse to get outside, get some exercise, and also make the house look nice.

Last spring was our first foray into botany - if you will. Jay and I gave everything a shot - herbs, annuals, ornamental grasses, perennials, and even growing new grass from seeds. Our house had been left in foreclosure limbo for a long time and needed a lot of TLC. Much to our surprise, I would chalk up last year's gardening efforts as a success. We grew grass, we kept plants alive, they even flourished! We even got compliments! To me, it was nothing short of a miracle!

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The front yard was a jungle of rose bushes - which is the best kind of jungle if you ask me. But it was way too overgrown, so we decided to transplant the rosebushes to the backyard.

Before we moved in, our contractor's wife planted a few yellow daffodil and tulip bulbs in the front garden. It was such a wonderful surprise in April has they all shot up. It definitely gave me the boost of energy to get started on the rest of the garden.

Some of the bulbs must have gotten moved by weather or animals since I'm pretty sure no one would plant a tulip in the middle of a bush. But it was springy and cheery so who really cares?

Once all of the early spring flowers died, I tied them back like this, so that they would come back next spring. My mom and I went to the nursery to pick up our annual flowers around the middle of May. I chose purple and white petunias as my primary flower, knowing that they would spread nicely and that they're generally low maintenance.

I spaced them about a foot apart around the edge of the garden, added garden soil, and waited for them to spread out.

And spread they did! Petunia are like weeds - but prettier. I didn't know how leggy they would get, but quickly learned that pruning keeps the flower healthy and also means I get to bring some of the garden inside!

It's always been a fantasy of mine to have beautiful flowering vines climbing up the side of my house. I bought a clematis vine to hopefully do the trick - but it didn't climb at all the entire summer. Why? Because I didn't realize that I needed to give it something to climb on.

Duh!

What did I think it was going to adhere to the cinderblock? I've learned my lesson and this year, I will support it with a trellis of netting to guide it all the way up to the lattice on the side of our front porch. I'm envisioning something like this. We've got a long way to go.

In addition to annual flowers, I invested in a few of my favorite perennials as well. I planted a peony bush (I hope to get more this year!), yarrow, double knock out roses, catmint, hostas, salvia, and sedum to name a few.

We were lucky to have an established hydrangea bush situated in a small garden flanking the front porch steps. All I did was prune the branches and it came to life with great, thick leaves and gorgeous pink blooms toward the end of summer.

In the backyard, the real showstopper is the giant Magnolia tree that sits right in the middle of the yard. It starts to bud in May and blooms sporadically throughout the summer. It's so beautiful and completely unique. It's definitely one of my favorite things about this house.

I don't spend too much time gardening in the backyard since a wild beast lives there that's determined to pounce on petunias and dig up dahlias, but I did manage to place alternating catmint and yarrow against the fence and out of her path.

To take my mind of this waffling weather, I've started pinning ideas for my garden this spring and summer. I'd like to add a more permanent place for my herb garden that's out of Lu's way. I'd also like to try again to make sense of the dilapidated pond we inherited.

I'd love to know - do you have any annuals or perennials in your garden that you'd recommend?