I have not been gardening long – we always rent and did not have the money or freedom to plant until we moved into our current rental in the summer of 2012. Our first gardening experience was this front yard beautification in the summer of 2013 (with help from professionals):

June 2013, front garden with cannas, lantana and a dwarf palm tree

Which, did surprisingly well the following year:

Summer 2014, Lantana

We have since learned some tough lessons from this garden – it is on the north side of the house and as you can see from the first picture, the part of the garden next to the house never gets any direct sun. Actually, except from June to August, 40% of the garden is in constant shade. In addition, the soil is cold and is heavy clay that never drains well. More plants died here than thrived, mostly during winter and because of rotten roots, including the cute palm tree and lantana (my personal favorite). We have since replaced half of what we originally planted. And this is what looks like a few days ago:

April 2016, front yard garden, Lilies, cannas, hibiscus, gardenia

We have since put down some rosemary bushes in the center of the yard where the palm tree used to be. Rosemary does not do well in clay soil but I have seen it as perennials here. So we are given it a try this year and hope it makes the center evergreen piece in this garden.

One success we had in this garden is hibiscus. We got the non-tropical ones and they overwinter very well. They actually do not mind saggy soil at all and really enjoy themselves at the sunny spot in this garden. They have been given generous and elegant big flowers whole summer throughout which attracted many butterflies. They do, however, attract beetles like crazy and definitely require daily attention to remove bugs and dead flowers for continuous bloom.

June 2015


April, 2016

We also enjoyed growing lily here which is actually in partial shade:

May, 2015
May, 2015

We got so many in such a short period of time so we gave them to everyone at my work and it made people so happy. Cannot wait for them to bloom again this year!

Our second garden is this little underplant area in the middle of our circular driveway:

June 2014, underplant in the driveway

Did not look so hot did it? But these plants are tough and just keep giving us surprises. It has been doing better and better each year and this is what it looks like last week:  

Much. Better. 🙂

We also tried to grow vegetables. yet so far it has not been going so well. We have many woodland critters who have been keeping a much closer eye on our fresh produce than we ever could. We have be successful with growing and producing cherry tomatoes (again, producing, not harvesting), and this year we decided to get our hands on peppers and cucumbers:

Summer 2015
April, 2016
April, 2016
April, 2016

If there is one thing gardening has taught me, is respect. Respect the plant, respect the nature. There is no other thing I could do but to provide what the plant need and to assist nature. That means be patient, be vigilance, be gentle, and be forgiving. 2016 has just started and we have already seen success and failure. We could not wait to see where 2016 takes us!