Planting Bulbs & The Front Garden

Last Saturday I finished planting bulbs for spring in the front cottage garden. Now come the long 4-5 months of anticipation before the big reveal.

While last autumn I spent well over $50 for a wide variety of bulbs, this year I limited myself to a mere 6 for a little under that amount:
Triumph tulip, 'Negrita'
Lily-Flowering tulip, ' Ballade'
Allium aflatunese, 'Purple Sensation'
Single Late tulip, 'Violet Beauty'
Oriental lily, 'Stargazer'

The Negritas were purchased, for fairly little, from a wonderful nursery nearby, Soil Service Garden Center. The 'Ballade' tulips and allium were ordered from Brent and Becky's Bulbs; the 'Violet Beauty' tulips and 'Stargazer' lilies were ordered from White Flower Farm. In the future I will likely continue ordering from these smaller companies, since I've discovered they sell larger quantities for less than the bigger names, like Breck's, and with relatively quicker shipping. I am still learning how the discern quality of bulbs, but they seem fresher as well.

I'm opting for a cool color scheme in my front garden, blues and violets with the accompanying greens, mostly because this is my favorite range of colors. However, I am trying to add more brilliance and a bit of "pop" by tucking in some reds and red-violets (even fuchsia), wherever I can.

My approach to designing is a bit messy in that I have a rough scheme drawn out, but I try to give myself enough leeway to invent the structure as I go. I've noticed that this is very similar to the way I make art or write, in that I require sketches and some level of planning but do best when there's room for accident and invention in the process. Cottage gardens are very attractive as a concept, since they thrive less on structure than a kind of ordered chaos. Because bulbs have a tendency to multiple and aren't terribly fussy, they seem well suited to the form.

The front garden is really more a work in progress, as you can likely tell from this montage of photos I've taken since the spring:

This is really only a quarter of a rather long strip of dirt, which the statue is meant to break up some (in addition to the bush you can't see off to the right somewhere). I've received a number of compliments on the statue, which was purchased at Van Liew's, a local company that specializes in beautiful and unique fountains and lawn ornaments. She reminds me of a movie starlet from some Art Deco silent film set in a fantasy Egypt, and the oxidized patina adds to the feeling of age, which I love.

The spear-shaped leaves are Blue Flag irises (I believe), which were originally in the garden when we purchased the house and merely transplanted. The sedum at her left was also transplanted last year, and the salvia behind her has been moved to the very right edge of the patch of irises. And the clump of leaves to the right in the last photo are the asters I planted last month. I'm attempting to play with combinations of color and texture, to see what works and what doesn't.

I really can't want until spring comes around and I can start seeing what I only have pictured in my head. I can't wait to plant even more perennials and give this little strip more fullness and texture. The worst part of gardening is the waiting. What a wonderful means of learning some patience!


First Briefing

This is the inaugural post for what I hope to be a monthly garden journal. It might end up being more than monthly, depending on whatever is on my mind each week.

A bit of introduction for anyone passing by:

I currently keep another blog devoted to my interests in cinema, art, and literature, which is hosted on my domain. While I enjoy keeping that blog (despite not updating as regularly as I should), I haven't enough room to cover my growing love of gardening. Since I read a number of gardening blogs via Blogger, I decided to free up some space on my domain and resurrect my dormant account for this purpose.

I grew up and still live in the Midwest. I'm not many generations removed from farm folk, mostly of German descent. My early love of gardening and nature was fostered primarily by my maternal grandmother, who grew up in the country and kept a vegetable plot in her backyard. There was also my stepmother's family, who owned a family farm. As children we played hide & seek in the corn, fed calves, and gathered eggs. Beyond these experiences, I spent a lot of time alone as a child wandering whatever forest was nearby and learning whatever I could about the natural world.

When I was about 11 or 12, I developed an interest in our backyard garden at home, digging up irises and daffodils and transplanting them to see what would happen. I helped my mother plant her yearly plot of annual vincas, and she would usually consult me each year as to what plants to add or remove. In high school, I experimented more with splitting irises, sedum, and even a prickly pear. I stopped gardening outdoors when I started college, and for some reason I've never had much luck with houseplants.

In 2006, my boyfriend and I bought an adorable little bungalow on the southside of Kansas City. Since that time, I've been able to get back into gardening, and we've also undertaken a number of do-it-yourself landscaping projects. Last spring we built our own raised beds, and over the summer we laid a stone patio and path. While the improvements inside have often been chores (besides painting, which I enjoy), the outdoor improvements have usually been fun, if often challenging.

A few thing I hope to cover in this blog:

Organic gardening. I've been interested in this concept since before I had a garden, but I've only recently been able to increase my knowledge as to its application through various readings. This interests me from so many angles, which I'm sure will come up as I begin to update.

Horticulture and other science nerdy aspects of gardening. One of my future goals is to propagate as many of my own plants as possible. Also, gardens attract so much interesting wildlife, even in an urban setting.

Theory and design. I'm an arty sort of girl, so anything I bound to touch is going to relate to how things look and feel.

In gardening, these things are inextricably intertwined, but defining topics lends some scope to this blog.

There are going to be many things to cover in the next month or so, what with last harvest coming and bulbs to plant. Once I settle on a proper schedule, I'll be posting as soon as I can.