Friday, October 11, 2013

Then and Now (part 1)


This is what the back yard looked like from our back door when my partner (now husband!) Dan and I purchased the property in December 2000.  I knew that gardening on a slope, especially one with a northern exposure, would be a challenge but we had looked at over a hundred houses all over the city; this was one of the few that had both a decent-sized yard (by urban standards!) and off-street parking (that's our garage at the top of the hill), was in a good neighborhood, and (barely) within our price range.

This is how the garden looked that first spring, when I discovered all the uninspired plants the previous owners had planted (but you can see from pots in the foreground that I already had tropical ambitions!):


Having a garden for the first time after 10 years of apartment and condo living, I went a little bit nuts.  I cut down two plum trees, a japanese maple (for which Dan has never forgiven me), and removed most of the uninspiring perennials, replacing them with bananas, palms, and elephant ears.  I've had a lot of fun with this view over the years, although it definitely took a few years to really hit my stride!  This area is now mostly planted with annuals and tender tropicals and thus changes from year to year.  Here's how it has looked in previous years.

July 2003:

Lower garden late July

September 2004:

Back gardens, July

September 2009, when I went a little crazy with color (but keep an eye on that palm just barely peeking out from behind the elephant ears on the left):


August 2011--yes, the palm grew that much in 2 years!  You'll also notice that my color palette has gotten a bit more subdued in recent years as I'm devoting more and more space to testing my seemannia and begonia hybrids, and let's face it, these just aren't as flashy as coleus and sweet potatoes:


And finally October 2013, looking a little tired as the days shorten and the temperatures cool down (but note that the seemannias are still going strong); as the palm and remaining japanese maple have grown and filled in, I've been experimenting with shade-loving plants like begonias and gesneriads:

Garden, October 2013