Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Virtual Tour

After a one year hiatus of the Garden Tour program, we just completed the 2016 GNPS members-only garden tour. I participated (as a garden) in 2008 and decided to participate again this year, 8 years later. The garden has changed in several ways so it seemed a good time to repeat (and it was time to get the place back in shape).

There’s a lot of work involved in getting your garden ready for a tour. I started out in February with general clean-up such as large fallen limb removal. I hadn’t really done much of that over the last few years so my bird-friendly brush piles were diminished and the limbs were everywhere. Now I have four big brush piles again and the forest floor appearance is more focused on the growing plants than the dead limbs. Note: I didn’t cut back my perennial stems until mid-March, leaving them for the insects to finish out their winter cycle.

As plants began to green up and bloom, I evaluated where some editing was needed. I was generally happy with the bones of the garden, but some plants had gotten a bit too happy (blue mistflower anyone (Conoclinium coelestinum)? Available for the taking!) while other plants had disappeared. Some plants were potted up for the GNPS sale and some moved to other locations (and some mistflower just had to go).

The front as viewed from the driveway

The front as viewed from the left side (looking towards driveway)

The plants that I’d had waiting in the wings (well, in pots) now could be planted. That was really fun! Probably adding plants is the most enjoyable part of gardening. I also used some wood chips from my January tree work to better define the paths so that people had clear places to walk.

Adequate deer protection was another part of my prep work. Deer pressure has been a major reason behind some of the garden’s decline (especially in the back) since the first tour. The local herd had really grown since 2008, thanks to feeding by a few neighbors. I’ve learned which plants to place only in the front (hydrangea) and which ones to spray more often. In the month before the tour, I sprayed a lot but still some plants were eaten.

Coming around the left side, blooms not as noticeable this far away!

The left side with a sunny perennial bed and the fence around the pool
Inside the pool area the plants are protected from the deer!

I have spent more time in the garden this year in preparation than I have in several years. That’s been a good thing! I’ve been able to really notice more plants as they grew, as I weeded around them or nestled them in fresh mulch. I’ve seen blooms that I might not have noticed before. So I'm glad I did it.

Just a few pictures from today. Will have to do a follow-up blog to show more (the software balks if there are too many pictures). Enjoy the tour.

Following the path around the back side of the pool

One of the wildlife brush piles (behind house)
The right side of the house, steps up to driveway

A red-spotted purple butterfly, I think

In next week's blog, I'll feature some of the plants that were blooming during the tour. I've got to share what finished out the day in a most beautiful way.

After everyone had left, I walked up the driveway and spotted this butterfly. The previous day I had found the chrysalis on a dead branch that was broken but still attached to the tree. I flagged it to keep anyone from removing it. The butterfly had just emerged at the end of the tour. What an awesome end to a day that I hope inspired people to support insects just like this one.


  1. Ellen, it was fabulous touring your garden! You have really created a special place for wildlife and native plants to thrive in your garden. And, I love your house. It is such a great backdrop to your garden.

  2. Your garden is lovely. So hope to see it in person sometime.

  3. Loved seeing your garden. Thanks you or opening it to the tour. I meant to ask where you purchased the tags you had on shrubs like the St. John's Wort.