A New Start, A New Garden


A new garden sounds exciting and a little intimidating, doesn’t it?

It wasn’t my choice to start anew after twenty-some years in the same yard. It was the natural order of things.

Or, maybe it was the natural disorder of things.

Mother Nature Says So

Over the years, the population of deer in our area has exploded. We occasionally used to see a doe foraging at the edge of our back woods. Now, we see herds of five, six, or seven deer every morning and evening trekking through every border, front yard and back.

In the winter the herds can be even larger.

I’ve tried sprays and whirly-gigs, netting, fences, just about everything you can think of. It all worked for a while, and then it didn’t. I totally gave up when I spent hours setting up 8 foot-high netting around a garden, only to observe a buck discovering that he could rip the net with his antlers.

And the young trees and flowers the deer didn’t like to eat? Those would get trampled, or their bark scraped off. Nothing I planted flourished anymore.

Then, a series of fortunate events presented me a new gardening opportunity.

We found a the little house on Lake Erie.

A House and A Home

An interior shot of the lake house shows a stone fireplace and blue couch.
We did our best to make the inside habitable until it could be renovated. There was work to do outside, too.
Large stone protects the shoreline.
The priority outside was erosion control. Then, creating new gardens could happen.

Starting a New Garden with New Rules

Our first spring at the new house yielded some surprising discoveries. I noticed that there was an azalea bush in the front yard, and it had flower buds on it. What? My azaleas for years had failed to flower because deer bit the buds off over the winter. Eventually, even our decades old rhododendrons became forage.

A white and yellow azalea bloom
This ‘Bright lights’ azalea never bloomed in town but was stunning after one year at the lake house.

Did I have a new lease on gardening?

Our neighbors confirmed it. “We rarely see deer in the neighborhood, maybe once or twice a year kids will frighten them out of the woods but it doesn’t happen often or regularly.”

red coleus and healthy clumps of hosta in a garden bed
Annuals and perennials flourish in the well-drained soil.

Remembering the Things I Used to Grow

As I strolled this new neighborhood, I noticed plants I hadn’t see growing in yards in years: big, beautiful hosta, profusely flowering rose bushes, thick, healthy daylilies, and robust hydrangea.

hot pink blooms on a rose bush
A rhododendron blooms profusely with lavender colored blossoms.

I started getting excited to garden again. But it has been slow going.

Garden Transformations

The first summer in our lakeside home, we had to clean up and paint the rooms that would make the place habitable. And pump out and address issues with the swimming pool. Gardening just wasn’t going to happen.

I did manage to dig out some tired old barberry bushes planted around the pool. Why would anyone would plant barberry around a pool? Ouch!

Then, I took a trip to a nearby nursery and purchased as many perennials as my budget allowed. I also brought transplants from our “city” home.

I brought hosta and daylilies, Japanese variegated willow, blueberry bushes, penstemon, and roses.

Everything grew like gangbusters.

The inground pool is flanked by gardens.
Planted in 2019, the pool garden started filling in after only one year thanks to an excellent nearby nursery and some transplants from home.

I had my first taste of gardening in what would be called “well-drained soil,” and “full sun.”

It’s now year three and the gardens around the pool look beautiful. The success has inspired me and encouraged me to garden again.

The pool gardens showing white and yellow blossoms in June.
It’s 2021 and the blooming is non-stop. And it’s only June!

If you’ve never tried gardening but are curious about it, I encourage you to give it a go. Yes, it can be a lot of work. But it’s also good exercise, meditative, and personally satisfying.

A beautiful garden can do more than increase the value and curb appeal of your property.

It can make your house a home.

I hope you’ll come back to this site again, as I explain step-by-step how I planned and planted my garden and how you can, too.

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