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Garden Tour: Side Garden

July 31st, 2012

The next area of the garden featured in the garden tour is The Side Garden. This garden is on the Southeast side of the house. It’s a long narrow space, 10 feet wide by 30 feet long.

Bordered on one side by our two story home and on the other by huge 80 ft tulip poplars, it’s not the easiest space to garden. Even though I’ve been amending the soil in this portion of the garden for the past 10 years, the big trees suck up all the nutrients and water.


In order to deal with the heavy feeding of the large trees, I layer a large portion of my garden waste over the soil as mulch. Everything from garlic leaves to grass clippings is added to my thick layer of mulch around all the plants.

The deep shade also makes it difficult to grow much of anything. Lucky for me, hostas and hydrangeas love this space, and I love hostas and hydrangeas. There are a great number of hostas; those with huge corrugated leaves in colors of blue, yellow and green, along with more delicate hostas.


In the spring, there are a few bleeding hearts, tulips, lily of the valley and dogtooth violets that bloom beautifully. The bleeding heart came from my mom’s garden and the lily of the valley came from my grandma (my mom’s mom).


In summer, this garden is bursting with hydrangeas of all colors, from the multi-colored ‘Endless Summer’ and the classic ‘Nikko Blue’ to a stunning ‘Limelight’ that is about 10 feet tall and blooms profusely in late summer. There are also a few that aren’t mature enough to bloom yet, Golden oak leaf, Big Daddy, Penny Mac and a few others.



For the longest time it was a neglected space, but it changed dramatically this spring. After much thought, lots of back building digging, a curved walkway emerged and the garden was complete.

I edged the walkway with hostas, both to accentuate the curve and to add a nice mowing edge. The results were AMAZING. Lucky for me I had a huge patch of mature hostas on the front hillside that needed moved. There were just enough to line the entire walkway. It was instant beauty, no waiting around for the plants to grow and fill in.

Every time I give a garden tour people comment about the curved hosta lined walkway as soon as they round the corner. This is the view when you round the corner from the front lawn as it looked yesterday morning.

This is the view when you round the corner of the house coming from the opposite direction.

The shady nature of this garden makes the grass struggle to grow. I’ve been establishing a more shade tolerant variety of grass and white clover as well. As a result, the green walkway is looking better than ever, even with the drought of this summer.

This side garden is a working garden, it gets a tremendous amount of traffic. I find myself constantly walking through the garden with a wheelbarrow or watering cans. The outdoor spigot is also in this space, so the hose cart resides here as well. The air conditioner and sewer crock are also located in this space.



After long being neglected, The Side Garden has finally come into its own this summer. It is probably one of my most favorite spaces now.

What’s your favorite shade loving plant?

Chiot’s Run Garden Tour
The Middle Garden

Love/Hate

July 30th, 2012

Last week I was over at Red Dirt Ramblings reading Dee’s post about plants she used to hate but now loves. It got me thinking about the plants I love and hate. Daylilies used to be among my hates, particularly the ‘Stella de Oro’ variety. I think I really dislike them because they’re way overused, at least here in NE Ohio. Every shopping complex and retail area has them everywhere. When we first arrived at Chiot’s Run there were a good number of daylilies planted in the garden, most of which were given to my mom.

Why do I dislike lilies? I don’t really know, perhaps it’s because the flowers fade so quickly and look untidy. Maybe it’s the shape of the plants. For some reason I’ve always disliked them.


Although certain day lilies are now welcome in the gardens of Chiot’s Run, I still haven’t learned to love the poor ‘Stella de Oro’. Arborvitaes & yews were also on my list of dislikes when it came to plants, but both have been slowly making their way onto the tolerable and possibly useful in certain situations list.

Are there any plants that you used to dislike but now like?

Quote of the Day: Three Sisters Garden

July 29th, 2012

Every American knows that a stand of well-grown sweet corn is a delight to the eye, as well as to the ear when it rustles in the wind. The classic mix of squash, beans, and corn is tricky to achieve in such a manner that the squash gets sufficient light and the beans to snot smother the corn. They should be planted only when the corn is already well on its way. Once grown, the stand of corn provides one of the best vertical accents possible.

Louisa Jones in The Art of French Vegetable Gardening


There’s something so classic about a three sisters garden. Last year I grew one featuring an heirloom yellow popcorn, a special heirloom bean that can take the shade of the corn, and Cinderella pumpkins along the edges. Everything seemed to thrive.

This is the first year in a few that I’m not growing popcorn. I typically grow it in my mom’s potager, but there was no space left for it. Plus with the possibility of a move I didn’t know if I’d be around during harvest time.


Hopefully in my new garden I’ll have space to include both sweet corn and popcorn. We’re lucky to have a local farm from which to purchase fresh sweet corn, but I’d love to grow it myself. I’m not a huge fan of the new super sweet hybrids, I like a less sweet corn with more “corn” flavor. I’ll definitely be trying to find a good one for next summer.

Do you grow sweet corn in your garden or purchase it from a local farm? Any special varieties to recommend?

Cooking up a Storm

July 28th, 2012

There’s not much I enjoy more than spending a day in the kitchen cooking up all kinds of goodness. Since there are only 2 of us in the house and we don’t eat lots of sweets or grain items, it doesn’t take much time to prepare the food we eat. I’m always happy when there’s a party invite or some other event that allows me to spend the day baking/cooking.

Today my good friend and neighbor is heading over to Washington D.C. for the Stop the Frack Attack Rally. She invited me to go, but as an introvert and highly sensitive person, a trip like this on a bus would nearly kill me. I offered to bake up a bunch of snacks instead.

Yesterday morning was spent baking both sweet and savory goodies. I made one of my specialties, molasses caramel corn. Head on over to Eat Outside the Bag for my recipe.

A big batch of maple walnut granola was also whipped up, along with a batch of cheddar cheese straws. The cheddar cheese straw recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. Of course I tweaked it a bit by using local raw milk cheddar cheese and freshly ground sprouted spelt flour.

When it comes to snacks, I’m not much for sweets or grains, give me olives, cheese, jerky, hard boiled eggs, yogurt or custard. I must admit though, the cheese straws are FANTASTIC, I’ll definitely be baking up a few batches to snack on during our long drive up to Maine mid-September.

What’s your favorite traveling snack?

Friday Favorite: Sauerkraut

July 27th, 2012

Eighteen pounds of sauerkraut, that’s how much I made 10 days ago. People keep asking me, “What are you going to do with all that?”. I’ll give a few jars away to friends, but we’ll eat most it. It will be on our plate every meal until it’s gone. The chiots will get some each morning as well. We even eat it for breakfast, head on over to Eat Outside the Bag for more about that and links to my recipe.

I must admit, I never thought I’d be listing sauerkraut on my Friday Favorites. Growing up my only experience with kraut was the stuff my grandma emptied out of bags on New Year’s Day. Then I discovered home made fermented kraut and liked it. After reading up on the health benefits and was amazed and liked it even more. Now that we try include it at every meal when we have it available I can say that I really, really like sauerkraut and love the health benefits it provides!

Are you a fan of sauerkraut and other fermented foods?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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