We live in a townhouse in Maryland, USA, but are lucky to have a yard with space for flower beds. When we moved in, in February 2010, there was nothing but grass (and snow). The flower beds were mine to make. Alas, it was not a good time of year for gardening. But it gave me time to think. One thing we discovered as the house was being built was that there would be a shallow and narrow drainage ditch running through our lawn, parallel to the house (see construction photo below; future ditch to be located in front of black plastic sheeting). The ditch had not appeared on any of the plans we saw for the house, but we were told we had to keep it because of county regulations.
The layout out of the bit of grass around our house is roughly reverse L-shaped, running from the front of the house, which is where the ditch is, around to the back side. This layout, the presence of the ditch, and the fact we wanted to retain some actual grass, meant we had to create rectangular flower beds along the fence perimeters; we didn’t want to span the ditch and there wasn’t much space beyond that for creative bed shapes. When we moved in (after the photo above was taken), three trees had been planted along the wooden fence, (a Green Mountain Sugar Maple at the top corner, an Eastern Redbud in the middle, and an Autumn Flame Red Maple in the lower corner) and one was planted in the back corner behind the house (an Ornamental Plum-Thundercloud). Eventually, I planned for three separate (but adjoining) flower beds.
I dubbed the flower garden across the far back of the photo (hard to see, but it runs along a wrought-iron fence overlooking a parking area), “Garden 1.” The area between the Sugar Maple and Eastern Redbud, (ie, the first half section of the long wooden fence) is “Garden 2.” The next section, between the Eastern Redbud and the Autumn Flame, is “Garden 3.” I know, very creative naming.
During the past two years, and in phases, I have dug up (with the help of a very kind husband and children) a lot of grass, planted a lot of perennial plants, shifted many around, and replaced a couple that did not survive our relatively mild winters. In some cases, I planted plants knowing I wouldn’t see any flowers until the following year, but anticipating the thrill I’d get when they did bloom in just the way I imagined. I’ve drawn landscaping plans, plotted blooming times, and in general led my family to believe I was slightly nuts. But I have enjoyed every minute of it.
Here is what part of that same stretch of fence looks like two years later (at closer range, with a focus on Garden 2; the Sugar Maple is in the background and the Eastern Redbud is in the foreground).