Our small-town lot has been transformed from swaths of chemical treated grass into a creature filled, pleasure garden for our family and friends, which is affectionately known as Gilmore Gardens. The total lot dimensions are 73 feet by 115 feet (20 m x 34 m), or about two tenths of an acre.
The colorful plantings in the Driveway Garden (1) lead to the cool refuge of our backyard, with native woodland plants in the Back Woodland (2). But the real journey of the garden begins with the gate to the Shade Path (3). Planted beneath two mature maple trees, this garden has a succession of flowers in waves from March til November. As you travel the grass path, your eyes become fixed on your destination, the Circle Lawn (4). This lawn garden is surrounded by three trellises and gives a sense of pause even though you stand just yards from a busy corner stop sign.
The weeping cherry tree in Cherry Corner (5) provides the first turn of axis. At this point, we will turn right down the Front Walk (6) in front of our old house. A rhythm is created by repeating shrubs and perennials down its length. The Hill Garden (8) greets us with tulips, roses and a tapestry of summer flowers. It has become our spectacular round-about heading down to the shady Front Woodland (7) that is planted in the large curb strip between the sidewalk and road. Walking on the sidewalk gives you a lower vantage point to review all of the gardens from their opposite sides (first the Hill, then the Front Walk, Cherry Corner and around the corner to the Shade Path). The thin Curb Strip to the right of the house is also planted, as well as the area all along the backyard fence.
In most of my plantings, my individuals plants are not especially rare or expensive, but it is their combination and progression that enhances their place in the garden and also creates an exciting experience in the garden as a whole. I would love to someday invest in the $100 lady slippers and the $50 peonies, but my wallet does not stretch that far at present. I think there is joy in knowing that we can take what we are given as gardeners and make it beautiful, even if it is a tiny town lot with common plants.