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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

11 Comments to “Garden Tour: Side Garden”
  1. Deb on July 31, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Beautiful. Will you hate leaving it after all the work you put into it? Such beauty. I have no time for a lot of flowers, go mostly for vegetable gardens. Just not my thing. Love looking at places like this but no time and energy to do these kind sof gardens. Everything looks so nice. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply to Deb's comment

    • Susy on July 31, 2012 at 8:31 am

      I’m actually excited to start something new in the place we plan on living for a long time. This place was always temporary for us, as we were planning on moving in 8 years or so.

      What I love about gardens like these is that they take care of themselves, much less work than lawn or vegetable gardens. This garden gets weeded once a year and that’s about it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. jennifer fisk on July 31, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I love Hostas as they can cover up a multitude of sins.

    Reply to jennifer fisk's comment

  3. Melissa on July 31, 2012 at 8:28 am

    That is absolutely beautiful! You’ve got a good eye for garden design!
    Melissa´s last post ..Bang for your Buck!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  4. Nebraska Dave on July 31, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Susy, your yards are very nice. You can tell that you have spent much time grooming them over the years. I expect it will be difficult to leave all that behind but the excitement is in the clean slate of the new gardens. Everything that you have learned from gardening at where you are now will be used to bring the new place up to a new level. I wish you good fortune as you move and start gardening all over again. Are you moving any plants?

    Have a great day enjoying your shade gardens.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  5. Rhonda on July 31, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I love ferns. All kinds of ferns! And moss! I really like moss too. I like seeing photos of the Pacific Northwest with all the lush ferns and moss in the forest. Beautiful!

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Susy on July 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      Ah – ferns I don’t have any of those here. Hopefully I can incorporate some in the new garden.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Songbirdtiff on July 31, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Beautiful! This year I have thought so much about how nice it will be to have the nooks and crannies of our yard looking beautiful. Lots of dreaming! (and patience)
    Songbirdtiff´s last post ..Month end wrap-up- July #gardenchat

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

    • Susy on July 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      Yes, patience it key. This garden has been 10 years in the making!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Kathi on July 31, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Ferns, hostas and bleeding hearts are among my favorites. I have actually grown to love shade gardening. It is the lowest maintenance part of my garden. I love your use of hostas in your side garden. The curve is beautiful.

    Reply to Kathi's comment

  8. Victoria on July 31, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Hosta Heaven! Sometimes garden “neglect” is beautiful. Who knows what will pop up. Did you ever try growing violas back there? My black bowles viola love the shade, and flourished throughout the summer tucked into a shady spot.
    Victoria´s last post ..Mint Jelly

    Reply to Victoria's comment

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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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