Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 - A Year of Changes in My Garden

The start of the changes - a gravel and flagstone walkway from the square beds to the pergola and a flagstone walk from the walkway to the side gate

Well, it's been an interesting 2015 on all fronts. But I'll try to limit this post to observations about my garden and blogging! Both the garden and blogging took hits this year. The weather and changes to beds and the landscape has left my garden in kind of an unknown state. It remains to be seen how it will all turn out in 2016 but what follows are some of the changes through 2015.

Showing the curves of the new "woodland" area. 

The Hardscape and Other Projects
In 2014 I agreed to be on the Ruston Garden Club's 2015 garden tour. The main reason for agreeing to something that causes the mostly do-it-yourself gardener like me grief, stress, and expense is to finally finish up some of the many projects I've been thinking of. I had three main projects in mind: 1) Install walkways from the raised beds to the pergola and from the pergola to the side gate. 2) Remove some more lawn and start to create a "woodland" area (a pretty small one). 3) Remove all the plants from the raised beds, top the beds up with fresh soil, and rearrange/renovate the design of plants in those beds. I managed #s 1 and 2 before the garden tour.

New section of the former alleyway that I rescued from the creeping (crappy) liriope, invasive wisteria roots, and broken asphalt. This is obviously still in its infancy.

View from the side gate with the new walkway.
View from the top patio showing some of the new woodland area.

Ruston Garden Club Tour
I had a delightful time being on the garden tour. It was so well organized and I had many helpers the day of the tour. (Kudos to the organizers of the Ruston Garden Club and the volunteer helpers from the North Central Louisiana Master Gardeners!) Here are a few photos from the day of.

The day started out a bit wet.

Me holding forth on something but who knows what!

Lots of questions.

One area that got a lot of attention was my succulent collection. Most of them are on shelves in this area (though you can't see the majority of them). I guess succulents are not that common in a part of the country that's supposed to get its fair share of rain.

The weather leading up to the garden tour was so crazy. Hard freezes, rain, snow in February and March, lack of rain in February, and constant cloud cover resulted in a very slow start to the spring bloom season. I know I wasn't the only gardener affected. For a brief week or so after the tour we had sun and then the garden really bloomed!

Some blooms

View from the pergola of the side garden.

Renovation of the Raised Beds
After our one week of sunshine in May it started raining. And raining. We received almost 10.5 inches of rain in May with another 4.5 inches in June. I was beginning to think it would never stop. But then it did, and big time. Our area quickly progressed to the extreme drought stage (as determined by the U.S. Drought Monitor) by September. And it was hot. I don't think I took any photos of the garden after mid July! Regardless, I knew I still had to tackle those raised beds. Years of self-seeding cottage garden plants and hard rains compacting the soil had taken its toll on those beds. So I bucked up and bought 3 cubic yards of soil and started removing plants and shoveling soil!

The soil I shoveled!
Starting to remove plants.

One bed finished. This is a trellis for sweet peas made of tower supports and bird netting. I hung the CDs on the netting because I was worried the birds might accidentally fly into the netting.

The finished beds. They look like babies!

The idea behind the 'Baby Gem' boxwoods in the front is to eventually create a screen so that if it gets messy I won't freak out. :-) Also, you may have noticed green wired things on top of the soil. That's my attempt at keeping the beasts out of the beds. So far it's worked against the neighborhood cats but the squirrels will sometimes still get in there. The other thing I did differently this time is to put mulch on top. This means it may not be such a cottage-y garden next year.

This rusted steel trough for some of my succulents was made by Robert Moran.

Other Little Additions
I also added a little nicety to the rail along the deck late this summer. I had intended to use part of an old gutter but couldn't figure out how to make it work. After I asked our friend Robert Moran if he wanted the gutters (he creates fantastic artwork out of metals), he made me one out of some steel he had. And he just gave it to me because he said I do so much for our community - isn't that the nicest gesture?

Screening for the patio

For years I've been wanting to screen off the top patio (so-called "top" because there are steps up to it) from the street. My ideas around a partial fence near the front of the carport are too expensive. So this year I bought a stock tank and filled it and another pot with Chinese mahonia (Mahonia fortunei). And I added another bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) on the other side. These plants are evergreen, as you can tell by the current naked winter trees. You can see that at eye-level the lounger is hidden. I'm happy with it so far.

Late winter scene from the back corner of the woodland area

The woodland area was topped with some soil and pine straw after the lawn was removed. Now, as you can see, there's a heavy layer of fallen leaves on top. In the early spring I'll put more pine straw on top of that. Hopefully I'll start getting a nice humus-y layer there and can eventually plant some woodland ephemerals and shrubs.

Where Did My Blogging Go?
Now about blogging... I haven't blogged since last July. Yes, the weather hasn't been very inspiring for strolling about outside with the camera. And yes, I've been busy with other things. But really, I haven't been inspired or motivated to blog either. Sometimes I feel like I just have nothing interesting to say. And I've gotten used to and like the immediate feedback and interactions on social media (Facebook mostly). So am I abandoning blogging? It sure seems like it but I've realized a few things that I'm missing by not blogging as often. One, although I do get delayed feedback and interactions via blogging, I also get exposed to new people and ideas that I don't get through FB. Secondly, I've made some awesome friends through blogging and attending Garden Blogger Flings. Thirdly, by not creating regular blog posts, I'm missing out on documenting my evolving garden and the interesting things I find there. These are three very good reasons that I'm not going to give up on blogging. So please hang in there with me and help me reinvigorate my enthusiasm for garden blogging!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2016. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. Jean, I think this is the first time I've seen some sections of your garden and I love them! The new path is perfect, and what a pretty garden by the pergola! The container planted screening is a great idea. I planted evergreens in tall galvanized trash cans and they've survived freezing temps, drought and too much rain!

    I so remember the energy I had the first few years of blogging. I'm not blogging as often, but when I do it's fun to connect with long time readers. I pinky swear to help reinvigorate your blogging energy.

    Happy New year.

  2. Your garden does look great, I like the changes you are making.

  3. I love the changes you made in the garden. It is a super stressor in my book to have a garden tour in my garden. You are to be congratulated.
    As for blogging, I think we all have to figure out how to include our newer social media with blogging. For me, I have the distraction of someone else home all day. I need to budget more time to reading others' blogs too.

  4. I enjoyed seeing your garden changes this year, and hearing more about your tour. I love that succulent planter along your porch rail too. Sure hope you keep blogging, Jean. I'd miss your voice if you quit.

  5. Your garden is beautiful! It has wonderful flow but also has the cool little areas with their own personality. I really like it! :o) I take a blogging hiatus every Nov/Dec to help recharge my batteries, although I spend a great deal of that time working on posts. Sometimes we all just need a break. :o)

  6. Your garden looks great!

    I've really enjoyed my blog as a record of garden changes and observations and nature reflections (which have been the primary drivers) and continue to enjoy that, although I certainly don't post as much as I used to. Blogging (for me) hasn't had the interactive benefits of FB (aside from the friends made through garden blogging!), but has been a much more satisfying medium for long-term narrative and reflection. (Going back to find something written on FB, whether public or in a private group, seems to me to be a real drag, not to mention if you want to download more than a snippet!)

    But I think we all write in different formats for different purposes, too. I hope you're feeling encouraged to refresh that blogging voice more in the New Year!

  7. I'm glad that you're not going to give up on blogging. I took a break the second half of this year from the chore of trying to come up with topics to blog about, and just did GBBD, Foliage Followup and Wednesday Vignette. Just to keep my hand in. You worked hard on your garden this year, and it shows. Love the steel trough and the flagstone walkway.

  8. I really enjoy looking at the long views of your garden. You've accomplished a lot in a year and it looks fantastic. I love your succulent planter. I went down a similar blogging path this year. Life seemed so busy and I need peace and inspiration to write posts. I agree that other social media platforms give a more immediate reaction but I'm also getting frustrated with FB not promoting/missing posts. It was so great meeting you at the fling and I hope we'll meet up again in Minneapolis. Happy New Year Jean!

  9. So glad you shared what's been going on in your garden over the year. The whole year is a wonderful perspective to have. I enjoyed getting a peek at it -- a beautiful creation! The succulent container is very cool. Thanks, Jean!

  10. It's either serendipity or synchronicity... or just plain good luck. I haven't checked into Blogger for many months. Today I do, and there you are, with photos documenting some ambitious projects. I've been blogging for about 2 years now and have kept myself to a one post/week schedule, knowing that if I ever miss a week, it will be easy to miss the next one too. I never seem to lack topics, only the time and energy to write a post, but once it is done and out in the world, I'm happy. All of which is to say, I hope you continue to let us see your garden change and develop in the months ahead.

  11. Wow, you certainly accomplished a lot in your garden this year, Jean! I love all the cottage plants, and I'm curious what you are going to replace them with. I know what you mean about blogging; this year with all that was going on with my mother's health, I just didn't have time, and when I sat down to do a Bloom Day post or something similar, it was a struggle to write anything. Facebook is so much easier, but you're right--it's just not the same. And I do like the fact that I can check my blog to see what was blooming at different times or how the garden has changed. I just hope I can get back in the swing of things here by spring!

  12. I loved the big often it is hard to really know what a garden looks like out of context. You have accomplished so much recently and it looks marvelous! I am with you on the blogging slowdown and think you have it right...Instagram has replaced a lot of my blogging. I am going to work on changing that.

  13. We did a huge driveway project last year and I said we'd be on a tour (actually two) this June. So right now we are making a list and trying to see how much of it we might get done. I am hoping — like you — to use the tour as an impetus to finish some jobs that would make a difference. It would be nice to have them finally done. But we can't start till sometime in April with our weather so who knows. As you described, weather is so unpredictable and you can't work on the garden inside when it's raining!

  14. This garden project were massive. It would take a year or two for me and you could finish it in couple of months. Amazing


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