The Arch City Gardener

Journeys In St. Louis Gardening and Beyond

Writing Prompt: Our Gardens Ourselves


foxgloveOne quick glance through the window into the backyard and my garden tells a story of transition. Or more aptly put, growing.

In 2011, after nearly two years of being tossed about by the midlife changes of divorce and children launching into their own lives, I bravely charted a new path and moved to a new home. Its backyard was a blank slate, nothing there but an expanse of lawn with rickety pavers masquerading as a patio and two lonely rose shrubs under the den’s window. A raised bed running the length of the short fence was fallow, not a single plant pushed through the clay soil.

Seeking a permanence that had been uprooted, I immediately set about anchoring my existence and installed a large concrete patio. Nothing says “I’m here to stay” like concrete. A dining table, coffee table, chairs, planters and chiminea invite visitors to have a seat and stay awhile. And the curving garden beds I would plant surrounding the patio, house, and borders of the yard, would provide a floral vista worth the linger.

den bed in May  (1024x768)The serious work of establishing roots came with the plantings. A riot of intense color beneath the den tells a story of passion and nerve. Here a bed brims with hot pink roses, spikes in spring with the deepest purple salvia and spills mounds of pink cranesbill at its edges. It wraps toward the south and tall garden phlox, swaying Russian sage, happy Shasta daisy, deep crimson monarda and an assortment of red and yellow lilies and other perennials are kissed by the sun and return its affection with bloom after glorious bloom. This has been my experimental bed, the place where I try out different perennials.  It is my cutting garden and it is a spot in the yard in which I am unafraid to try new things.

Opposite the den garden and running the length of the patio, a large paisley shaped bed tells a story of ambition and optimism. A graceful Japanese maple, stout dwarf Colorado blue spruce and small hydrangeas that serpentine their way through the bed are the foundation. Yet there is plenty of room to grow. Each growing season, the sun soaked garden receives new plants that provide another layer of color, form and texture.  I watch from the den as the specimens play host to birds, bees, butterflies and squirrels. Tall grasses, pink roses, spiking liriope, speckled purple foxglove, sturdy mauve gayfeather, Russian sage, echinachea, bold black eyed Susans come back in profusion year after year.

DSCN0096 (1024x768)The raised bed has provided a bounty of tomatoes (alas, mostly for the squirrels), peppers, herbs and flowers. Its rotting timbers have been replaced with stone and this year tall cannas stood sentry along its straight line.

Three summers have passed since I began my garden adventures. Happy to be in place, but not content to be static, new plants are added each year to the initial garden beds. I continue to make way for new possibilities, and will build a bed that run the length of the graying wood fence that faces north. I am unafraid to move shrubs to new spots that will encourage greater growth and know when to give up and pull a plant that just won’t make it. And no matter the season, I nurture the gardens, coaxing them to put forth their very best, year after year.

Thanks to You Grow Write Guild for the excellent writing prompt. This is my first go at such a thing and I am glad I stumbled upon this. In the short time I have been blogging, I am amazed at the communities available online and the resources available.


Author: mjarz

Welcome to the Arch City Gardener. My name is Mimi and I started this blog to share my journeys in learning to garden in St. Louis County, Missouri and learn more from my readers who garden. Thanks for reading The Arch City Gardener.

3 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Our Gardens Ourselves

  1. Love the den bed with the roses, salvias, and hardy geraniums!

  2. My favorites for shade include wild columbine, brunnera, uvularia, short’s aster, wild ginger, and ferns.

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