Black Thumb Gardening

OK, I will confess, I am NOT talented in the gardening department. I love to play in the dirt and love pretty things growing. The only problem is, they tend to NOT grow for me.

Our yard is a landscaper’s NIGHTMARE!!

We have a very old, very large maple tree in our front yard that has (for all the time we’ve lived here) effectively blocked all sun out from our yard and has a root system that has taken over the entire town (can you tell that exaggeration is one of my spiritual gifts?? :D ). Add to that a backyard with several trees and 8 children playing and you end up with no grass, lots of dirt and every weed indigenous to IL (apparently, except for 1).

I have tried to have a vegetable garden several years only to have nothing really grow. Oh, I get the occasional tomato (usually Big Boy types coming out the size of cherry tomatoes) and last year I got 3 bell peppers that Tom Thumb would have thought small!! (so I have decided to chuck the idea of vegetable gardening this year and jump in with a farm share — MUCH BETTER PLAN!!)

But, I still want some pretty plants.

I prepared a raised bed (actually a raised bed with another higher raised bed on top of that) with compost, peat moss and vermiculite (in the plan of Square Foot Gardening). 4 years ago I planted alyssum in the corner because I loved the beautiful cascading effect of the flowering plant.

This has grown and spread beautifully — but IT WILL NOT FLOWER!! Well, after 4 years, what was 2 teeny plants has spread to a 2 square foot area but this spring I counted 12 blossoms (the most I’ve ever had)!!

I also planted an azalea 2 years ago, but it died before the season was over. This year I got a rhododendron and it has new leaves coming in – hopefully that is a good sign.

I also planted 3 coral bells. They were so pretty with their little red and orange leaves.

Coral Bells

(image courtesy: creative commons: Andrea_44)

And 2 astilbe plants.


(image courtesy: creative commons: hartjeff12)

[Needless to say, these are not photos of my garden (my photographer daughter is on her way to OKC for a missions trip).]

My heart is very sad to report that a SQUIRREL has dug up and eaten all 3 of my coral bells.

Well, it really is one more proof that BLACK is the color of my gardening thumb!!! But I will not give up! This week I will be working on my garden to see how I can get my yard from dirt brown to some color!!

Let me hear your landscaping ideas and the plants YOU use in high shade areas. How you deal with squirrels will be greatly appreciated!


Blogs I might be linking to:
Menu Planning Monday, On The Menu Monday, Erin Branscoms, Mommy Mondays, Marital Oneness, The Better Mom, Multitudes on Monday, Hear it On Sunday, Sharing His Bounty, What Joy Is Mine, Playdates at the Well, Making Your Home Sing Mondays, Domestically Divine Tuesdays, Time Warp Wife, Funky Planet Frequent Flier Club, Encourage One Another, Walking Redeemed, A Wise Woman Builds Her House, The Welcoming House, Legacy Leaver Thursday, What’s Up Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Hearts 4 Home, Thankful Thursday, Thankful Thursdays, Thankful, Thankful Thursday Brown-eyed Bell(e), Big Family Fridays, Faith Filled Fridays, Feasting In Fellowship Friday, Fellowship Friday, Homemaking Link-up Week-end, A Little R&R, Pieces of Amy, Homeschool Mother’s Journal, TGIF Bible Love Notes

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  1. Oh, my…I can so relate!! Another black thumb gardener here, down to the huge tree in the yard with the roots that snake around everywhere! We’ve given up and started hand-feeding our squirrels…we may never have beautiful plants, but our squirrels make us smile. :)

    • You crack me UP!!!

  2. Do you mean deep shade? Or do you have sun for a little part of the day? Anyway, in shady areas (which a lot of my yard is) say goodbye to most food plants. What you want are plants that interest with leaf color or shape because a lot of plants that thrive in shade do not have large, showy flowres. You did make good selections with the astilbe. In my experience, coral bells will not thrive in deep shade. Good choices might also be hosta, Solomon’s Seal, brunneria (these come in several leaf varieties and have small bluish flowers), Jacob’s Ladder. A possibility, if you have light shade, is also Lenten Rose (which is a relative of the buttercup, not a rose).

    • Thanks for those ideas, Alana! It USED to be deep shade until they chopped our lovely tree to bits (well, not really, but they DID but it back very drastically) and now we have some sun in the early part of the day.

      I have hostas coming out of my eyeballs, so I’m looking more at your other suggestions. And I won’t cry about the coral bells since they might not have lasted once the tree really fills out. I’m going to check out our local nursery for your suggestions. Thanks!

  3. Sorry, hit “post comment” too soon. I also meant to add that we have a lot of squirrels, but groundhogs are a big problem for us, too. All the plants I’ve mentioned don’t seem to attract the attention of groundhogs.


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