Sunday, January 5, 2014

Our Garden Before and After

After much procrastination I recently undertook a mammoth  task of going through most of my garden pictures and deleting at least some of those I don't need. Several thousand files and a burned dinner later, I found just enough pictures to do a post on what our garden looked like when we just moved in....

A long planting bed running all along the back yard. Most of these plants were put in by us

 ... and now that we have been gardening here for over seven years.

When we bought the house, there was no garden. The elderly couple we bought it from didn't garden, so all that was in the yard was a lawn and automatic sprinklers, and a "mow and blow" crew to take care of it.

Looking from the house across the front lawn just after we moved in

 We have never had any ambitious plans for what our garden should be. We never had a big budget for a large-scale makeover either. All we have been doing over the years is dig out bits of lawn and plant, one plant at a time.

Looking from the street to the house across the same space 7 years later

When we started digging it became obvious that we would have to work very hard to get things to grow.

This was a narrow fenced-in strip of grass running east to west along the south wall of the house. Picture from 2009. All plants have been put in by us

The soil was never amended. Especially around the house, it was extremely hard and full or rocks.  Rocks, interspersed with squashed soda bottles, rusted nails and rotten shoes were the only things the garden had an abundance of.

The fence now houses most of my climbing roses 

It took years of amending, mulching, watering and feeding to see worms, ladybugs and birds. 

The narrow bed by the house became my cutting garden with mostly modern hybrid teas

We took the most effort with the back yard, which at first was nothing but an expanse of lawn with a long planting bed along the back fence. Just about the only plant growing in it was a sadly neglected climbing Cecile Brunner.

Picture from spring 2007. Has anyone seen a climbing Cecile Brunner this small?

Our "mow and blow" crew retained from the previous owners in a fit of misguided politeness, propped up its few canes against a fan shaped trellis and we left it at that. For the first couple of years, we resisted planting in that bed because we wanted to redo the ugly cinder block retaining wall, but that project took longer than we thought. However, my husband soon grew tired of looking at a long grey fence, so we started putting some plants in even though the cinder blocks were still firmly in place. 

Spring 2009. Astonishing how fast Cecile grows

It took a while, but finally there is no fence to be seen. The cinder blocks are gone. But the fan-shaped trellis is still there somewhere :).

This past spring


  1. Wonderful!!! I love seeing what gardens look like before gardeners get to work on them. Yours was certainly a blank slate. Thank you, thank you for sharing this with us!

  2. Wow, you and your husband did a fantastic job. Beautiful, beautiful!

    Happy gardening ~ FlowerLady

  3. You've done a beautiful job of transforming that space. Good work!

  4. It's hard to believe it's the same yard! You have an amazing way with roses and certainly made some wise choices in your selections. It is absolutely beautiful! Is there anything special you use to feed your roses? And if so, how many feedings per year? By the way, I will again be referring to your directions for pruning climbing roses as we are ready to begin the pruning process, and your instructions were the best I've seen!

  5. Thank you!

    Dorothy, I am glad my pruning directions are helpful :). I am still learning and don't think the learning will ever end... I use mostly organic fertilizer, alfalfa pellets bought in bulk, fish meal when I can afford it, chicken manure when my back can handle it... A couple of weeks ago, I took delivery of 85 pounds of organic feritilizers which I expect will last about a year. In spring, I sometimes cheat and add high nitrogen lawn fertilizer in granules... I start fertilizing in February, and then apply more after each flush (so about three more times). I always mulch heavily.

  6. Ouahhh!! It's like a dream!!!
    Your garden is a paradise!!!

  7. Jesteś czarodziejką i smutny ogród zmieniłaś w bajeczny i kolorowy. Pozdrawiam.
    You are a wizard and sad garden changed into a fabulous and colorful. Yours.

  8. Oh, Masha!!!!! I am amazed at the transformation! And all the blooms! Such beautiful colors! I could go on and on - it is just absolutely gorgeous. Fabulous inspiration - and thanks, too, for explaining your fertilizing routine. That is one area where I need to do more. I also like that you showed the cinder blocks - amazing how plantings can cover up little flaws, and now I'm thinking I could use some cinder blocks in my own garden. Love the raised look.

  9. Dear Masha, this before and after post is very inspiring! You have worked so hard in your garden and the transformation is amazing. Now it is truly a dream garden! Thanks for sharing it with us! I can't wait to see the spring flush this year. Warm regards,

  10. Wonderful! I so enjoy seeing the before and afters. I assumed that you spent big bucks to acquire all your amazing Roses. It sounds like it was a labor of love, mixed with patience, hard work, and a natural design sense. I love it!

  11. Thank you!

    Beth, no big bucks :(. A lot of the roses are cutting-grown and were not expensive to acquire.

  12. Masha, your before and after pictures are amazing! Your years of hard work have paid off. Your garden of roses is incredibly beautiful! Both you and your neighbors must get so much pleasure from it. Well done!

  13. Hi Masha
    great to see the development of your garden. Our Aberdeen garden came about very much in a similar manner.

  14. You have done a wonderful job. Your garden does you great credit, you have obviously put so much work into it. It is always so interesting to see how people develop their gardens. I love all those beautiful roses.

  15. Your rose garden is just mind blowing! I remember well how much roses love the CA climate. My garden was a blank slate when I moved-in in 2003, too. How satisfying to see and be the person responsible for such a dramatic change. :o)

  16. It's amazing to see what you've done in your garden! The results are gorgeous!

  17. Lovely garden, roses, roses and more roses ! Can't wait for the first rose to bloom this season. Which is your first ? Mine is usually 'Cinderella', an excellent climber.

  18. Thank you!

    Jane, in my case, it is always potted roses (their roots get warm first) and roses against the south wall of the house (the warmest place in the garden).

  19. So so beautiful...<3 What an amazing garden you have created! All those roses...

  20. Masha, can I come and live in your yard? I think that side spot on the soft grass near the climber's would work out just fine.

  21. Yes, of course, Professor. We have been planning for years to put a bench there :)

  22. C'est magnifique! Quelle belle évolution! Vos cascades de roses sont somptueuses!

  23. Wow, so inspiring. You make me feel like my garden might actually have a future!

  24. Really a good job ! Congratulation !
    Greatings from Italy.

  25. You did an amazing job in landscaping! I love seeing gardens before they are renovated. It shows how much effort, work and love the person dedicated to the garden to make it into the perfect one. Thank you for posting this. We can tell by the before and after pictures that you've put a lot of work into it. I would love to see more, so please keep us posted! :)

    Darrell Gardner @ LivingColourGardens


I am so glad you have stopped by!