My Garden in July (2011)

Oh dear. I really have been remiss in providing updates and photos of the garden in its first year. The last photo I posted was on June 29. We were headed to Denver and I wanted a record of it before I left. Until that time June was still a bit wet and sometimes cold. A heatwave struck while we were gone and the garden really took off from there.

To tell you the truth, I’ve been neglectful about taking photos of it in general. However, I have spent a lot of time in it and have put a ton of work into it. I am pleased. I’ve finally found a place where I am as happy about where it is right now as I can be. There are little things for sure: the perennials that are smaller than I’d like them to be; the lavender that didn’t transplant well from a life indoors; the small patch of grass that I was too tired to dig up; my failed attempts at covering the low fences in vines of my choosing (Fine, morning glories, you can have it!); a desire for large rocks that I can use to create more structure. There are others, but I’m okay about that right now. It is a work in progress. When I look back at what the garden looked like when we moved in versus what we’ve managed to accomplish considering the mania of our schedules this year… it feels good enough. And when I’m alone in it with no one else’s taste or approval to meet, it is more than enough. I love it.

Here are a few pictures. I promise to post more in the future. There are lots of little corners and areas of interest that I want to tell you about, but they each deserve their own post. This is just a taste to get things going.

We brought the sitting bench (at the back) from the old place when we moved. I thought it would be nice to have a spot to sit in the back of the garden, although the pathway that leads to it is now covered over with exploding greenery. I found the red bench in the garbage recently. Those are zucchini flowers and coriander seeds sitting on it that I had harvested that morning.

One of three varieties of bushing zucchinis that I planted this year. This one is a patty pan. It has produced lots of male flowers and is only now beginning to out out the first fruit.

Red cabbage, nasturtium, and colourful amaranth underplanted beneath some tall, indeterminate tomatoes.

This image shows two large raised beds on the west side. The first is home to eight indeterminate (vining) tomatoes that are underplanted with assorted basils. The second holds 4 indeterminate tomatoes and 4 determinates (bushing).

The ‘Lacinato’ kale is growing in an old wooden crate. The pot behind that is my iron cross oxalis. It’s still going strong and producing flowers exactly a month later. That red thing is the largest amaranth I have ever grown.

A close-up of one of the teepee structures that I am partial to. It consists of 4 stakes set in a diamond shape, one indeterminate per stake. As the plants grow, I tie up the main stalk and cut out excess foliage to promote good circulation.

This is one of the raised beds that is closer to the house. The entire west side is comprised of raised beds that we built using scrap pieces of wood that was either found on site or given to us. It cost us exactly ZERO DOLLARS and was absolutely necessary since the entire west side sloped downwards. The plant in the foreground is cilantro/coriander that has gone to seed (I collect and eat the seeds). The plant behind that is Tzimbolo, a crazy pseduo-edible solanum that I grew from seed. It should not be there, but I didn’t have anywhere else to put it. This is my second year growing this plant. More on that in a future post.

Creating more structure is next on the agenda. The main bed on the east side is just one long bed. I had to do that as a time saver, but it is the number one issue that I have with the garden right now. The plants were all put in haphazardly. The goal at the time was just get stuff in the ground and fast! It’s a bit of a jungle and difficult to get into to weed and water. The cat loves it though. She has a special spot where she goes to cuddle up with the soaker hose (when it’s not on, of course!).

About halfway up the long bed is a galvanized washbasin that I bought at a flea market this spring. As soon as I brought it home, I stuck it there because I didn’t know what to do with it. It stayed, and I have since planted it up as a pond that holds big-leaved tropicals (Giant papyrus and alocasias/colocasias). The grassy thing on the right side is sorghum (black or red. I’m not sure yet). The purple spike below that is anise-hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). I’m a fan of this plant and made sure to bring some over from the roof garden where I had been growing it for years and years. Behind the sorghum you can see a garlic flower that I let go (don’t do this if you want nice, big bulbs). The bees love it! There is one on there in this pic.

In the fall, once the tender annuals start to die back, I intend to break that long space up and put in a path. I’ll move some of the plants if I get the chance. We have managed to create one bed within that long patch, a dry bed full of silvery plants and hardy cactus and succulents. I will post about that separately as it needs its own entry.

UPDATE: I posted a larger version of the first image to my Flickr account so that you can see the details more clearly. I’ve also added more notes.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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26 thoughts on “My Garden in July (2011)

  1. What a stunning transformation! You should be pleased, proud — and perhaps exhausted, too ;-)?

    The garden you built is beautiful and thriving. I especially like the free and found elements you’ve included. Looking forward to peering at each photo more closely (when I have a bit more time) and future posts about the details.

  2. Didn’t you just move in, like, yesterday? I can’t believe all the work you’ve managed to put in your yard! It looks great- like it’s been there for years.

  3. This is quite an achievement Gayla. You sure you don’t have a ‘special crew’ working for you as in ‘la’ Martha Stewart?
    Just teasing you.
    Congratulations it’s really beautiful and I love all that diversity in your garden.


  4. What a stunning garden yours has developed into! In about half a year? It is so nice, funky and colourful! It is really motivating for me.

    Congrats, and thank you for sharing this!

  5. Must add, love the two red statue-like pots. So contrasting and good with the other colours! Definitely a must-have for me.

  6. Thanks everyone! I’m really very pleased with it right now.

    Taryn: I believe we started digging in April so it really hasn’t been that long. But I did start growing some seedlings back in January so it feels longer than it was.

    Marie-Louise: LOL! I could have used a crew for the digging part. We dug up A LOT of grass and all by hand.

    Lilla: I originally had some cement pots there that I bought at a flea market, but I hated the glaring white and haven’t had a chance to paint them. I came upon the red pots very cheaply and they were the perfect replacement. I will post about those separately.

  7. Congratulations! You have accomplished so much! My husband and I had our garden almost completed when he went into the hospital (he’s fine now) and I had to have knee surgery….as you can imagine our garden got way out of control with weeds and overgrowth while we were recuperating. Now we’re back in clean-up mode…all this to say I can really appreciate the effort you’ve put in!

  8. It’s amazing. I love Texas (well, my little corner of it) and all the challenges that gardening in Texas entails, but sometimes I dream of less harsh summers and the transformation it would bring to my garden.

  9. Gayla, it’s looking great! You are obviously enjoying your new space. I look forward to seeing how it evolves.

  10. Wow, so nice to see. I’ve also been remiss in garden photo posting this year (till lately)… but I’m very happy to see your new garden photos. It’s wonderful.

    Question: I like your diamond teepee tomato approach… how large is the diamond’s “footprint”? I’d like to try this, but want to make sure I space enough. Thanks!

  11. Ciao Gayla-

    Thanks for sharing your garden with us! I’ve been looking forward to seeing photos of it since the last time I saw you back in May. How fun to see my little amaranth thriving in its new home! Welcome home yourself from all of your travelling – time for that mojito!

  12. Your garden looks so alive and healthy. Colorful too. I like the containers just tucked in and that red stool is too cute. I need taller plants to spill over the walkways like yours. Must add to the plant wish list.

  13. Question: Are those purple Christmas tree shaped plants, lettuce that has gone to seed? If not, what are they?

  14. Diane: Yep, they’re lettuce. I always allow a few to bolt. They look great and I collect the seed for future sowing.

  15. Beautiful garden! Just wondering, since I’m unofficially and randomly collecting information on urban gardening, do you have before & after shots? How long did it take to get it where it is today? Also, just curious about the time/$ investment. I’ve been encouraging other folks to garden, garden, garden, even if it means just starting out with a simple single plant. Success stories always help inspire. Keep growing!

  16. Gayla I think you have a wonderful garden I know that there is always so much to do and so many changes that you want to make. I use to obsess over all the little imperfections that I would see. I have learned that the pleasure I get from my garden is that which I have accomplished. So when you look around your garden feel a sense of accomplishment for many would be envious of what you have achieved.

  17. What a wonderful space that you have made into a garden wonderland. I remember looking at your time laps and getting excited to rip into my yard. next year.. I loved looking over your blog.

  18. Your garden really is inspiring…it’s my favorite kind of garden! The before and after pictures are unreal!!! Thanks so much for posting those photos…makes me want to get out in my garden right now!

  19. I live in zone 10 and our gardens in June/July look like burnt forests so this is very diffrent to my eyes.Just add a bit more color to your garden.

  20. This post is such an inspiration. It is a reminder that gardens do not have to be formal and perfect and symetrical and tidy to be beautiful. They can be anyway you want them. They are a true reflection of the one who tends them. I forget this and it slows me down tremendously. This post makes me want to order a truckload of compost and till!

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