Monday, January 9, 2012

Big Challenges, Small Solutions

One of the big challenges with a large garden is filling it with plants. Dividing garden spaces into smaller areas, can make the task seem less daunting.  However, two acres is still pretty big, and some of my garden spaces are larger than the average suburban backyard.

Budget and lack of time have kept me from filling these spaces with plants over night.  But, that's okay with me, because creating these gardens has been a journey, not a destination.

In fact, these gardens have been created and recreated; done, undone, and redone again many times over the years.  Everything is a work in progress.  I continually reconstruct the garden as I discover plants that don't work, my own changing tastes, and my desire to try new ideas and new plants.  Here are some of the gardens I've been working on: 
  • Roman fountain garden
  • pond garden
  • front yard garden
  • disappearing fountain garden
  • pool garden 
  • backyard/dry creek garden
  • vegetable garden
Dry Stack Rock Beds Surround Roman Style Fountain
Water Lilies and Parrots Feather in Garden Pond 
Spring Petunias Bloom in Front Yard Garden
Disappearing Fountain After Installation of Rock
Swimming Pool Area Overlooking Dry Creek and Backyard
Veggie Garden Spring 2010
As you can see, I still need a lot plants to fill in all the empty spaces. Over the years I've found that planting anything smaller than a 1 gallon size plant in my garden is a recipe for failure.  A little 4 inch transplant just doesn't have the root system to survive my infrequent watering  and weekend warrior gardening practices.

Still, 4 inch transplants are a good buy and an excellent solution for filling in empty garden spaces on a tight budget.  These days a 4 inch perennial costs about $2, and a 1 gallon perennial costs about $6.  That means, for the same $6, I can have 3 plants if I buy the 4 inch size.

So, here's one solution:  buy small 4 inch transplants in the fall/winter and grow 1 gallon plants in the greenhouse for transplanting in Spring.
Greg's Mist flower (front left), Texas Betony (front right)
Greg's Mist Flower Bumped up to 1 Gallon
Mountain Sage (Salvia Regla) Gets Bumped up to a 1 Gallon Pot
Sometimes I get lucky and find good sales.  These shasta daisies were .99 cents at Barton Springs Nursery.  I snatched up five and they were going fast.
Shasta Daisies (Front Left)
Shasta Daisy Moved up to 1 Gallon Pots
Two other small solutions for making plants are to propagate new plants from cuttings and divisions, and to grow plants from seeds.  Seed starting is one of my New Year's resolutions.  Seedlings, which have been started in the house, will soon take their place in the greenhouse.  The plant table in the greenhouse is filling up with plants, but I will soon have a larger storage shelf to accommodate more seedlings.  Yippie!  This is so much fun!

Greenhouse Plant Table


  1. Great advice for a large space. While it could be daunting to have so much room for gardening, your attitude is a healthy one--that gardening is an adventure and shouldn't be done too quickly. Savor and enjoy!!

  2. Tina, I couldn't agree more! After all, I need to leave some fun projects for when I finally get to retire :)

  3. I'm not sure any garden is ever 'done'. There's always just one more project.

    Good idea to let 4" pots grow larger in the gallon pots. I've tried that with worked well. Lets me buy when there's a good assortment, and not worry too much about a late freeze.

    Your garden looks great!

  4. You've done a fabulous job. I love the garden pond and the arbor in the veggie garden. You've provided me with some inspiration. Thanks:)

    I'm trying to landscape the front and backyard at our new home and while the space is not as big as yours, I still feel overwhelmed. I'm trying to focus on one small area at a time.

  5. Linda - The idea works perfect with tomatoes, and by the time they go into the garden they have wonderful root systems, so they don't have to be babied so much.

    Rambling - Thanks so much. Congratulations on your new home. Focusing on a small area is defintely a smart idea. What's that old saying... Divide and Conquer! Have fun!

  6. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.

    Filling a Swimming Pool

  7. I know this blog was a while ago. But hopefully your still reading comments. Your pond is beautiful with simple peacful beauty. Can you tell what plans im seeing in the picture? Is it just lotus and lillies? Thank you :)

    1. No lotus. The purple water lily is Panama Pacific. The other lily is Colorado. Plants is foreground are parrots feather. Towards the back there's a couple of leaves poking up that I think are pickerel rush. Let me know if you have more questions. I check my comments fairly often.