Today I wanted to tell you about my neighbor John’s fanciful approach to gardening.

It is imaginative rather than prudent.

Spring Rainstorm:

We had a rainstorm last night. I lay in bed and listened to the growl of thunder in the distance.

It rumbled while streaks of lightning flashed across my bedroom curtain. And then the rain poured down.

Ivy was at the end of the bed, where she’s begun to sleep at least part of the night.

In My Neighbor's Fanciful Approach To Gardening, here is a photo of my neighbor's dog, Boomer standing next to his steady companion.

Boomer:

Someone yesterday asked to see Boomer, John’s dog. He and John live just across the stone pathway from me.

Boomer comes to visit us all. So in a way, he belongs to all of us in some small part.

Yesterday he ran into my apartment before I could slide the door closed. Ivy doesn’t seem perturbed by his presence. Sometimes he jumps up into my chair with me.

John tells Boomer to sit, and he immediately sits. He’s such a sweet boy. And it makes me miss my Charlie boy.

Boomer standing next to his owner taking commands so I can capture his photo.

It looks to be a rainy day. I’m listening to Philip Wesley’s “Beyond Cloud Nine.” If you’d like to sample it, here it is on YouTube.

And if you find you like it, you can purchase it here.

Gardening Season:

It is gardening season. The trees are leafing out and blooming and everyone is setting out plants for the season.

In My Neighbor's Fanciful Approach To Gardening, here is my neighbor's yard, where he brings home anything and everything from the nursery that catches his eye. What I call "fanciful gardening."

Neighbor John had gone to the nursery and come back with a variety of plants for his yard.

I pulled a chair close to the path that divides our yards and gave him advice on where to plant what.

My red chair where I sit out in my yard and watch neighbors planting what they've brought home from the nursery on this spring day.

He has a beautiful yard and you can just look at it and see how much love he puts into his little space.

I’d be overjoyed if I had his level yard.

Below is the red rose bush he brought home yesterday. As you can see it got a healthy dose of rain last night.

In My Neighbor's Fanciful Approach To Gardening, here is a rose bush a neighbor brought home, though he doesn't have much sun for it.

The Various Types Of Birds:

I sat and watched the many different kinds of birds flying to the bird feeders.

Blue jays, robins, house finches, mourning doves, Carolina chickadees, and sparrows.

Soon other neighbors came outside to join us.

Initially, I thought it might feel a little claustrophobic living in a place where the neighbors’ yards intersect. But I find that it’s quite nice actually.

Everyone watched as John cleaned his yard and arranged his plants.

And everyone laughed and joked that every year he brings home all these plants that appeal to him at the nursery. But he doesn’t read what kind of light exposure they need before he buys them.

My Fanciful Neighbor’s Approach To Gardening:

It is a fanciful way of choosing plants for your garden. But it also means he’s got an adventurous and quixotic streak in him.

John is a man who finds joy strolling through a garden nursery merely choosing whatever catches his eye.

Part of my patio where you can see one of my galvanized tubs full of various plants.

The view above looks out toward John’s place.

My Yard:

Maybe I’ll just put containers along the edge of the concrete blocks. One of you suggested that idea and I’ve kept it in mind.

Then I could reach them without having to walk across the unsteady rocky ground.

Even with this yard that I find cantankerous and difficult, I still love this little spot of mine.

I love the trees and all the wildlife. And the friendly neighbors too of course.

On this rainy day I look out at the raindrops clinging to the tree leaves, and I feel like I’ve come home.

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49 Comments

  1. Boomer is a cutie! It’s nice that he considers the neighbors extended family, and everyone gets to enjoy him, too. You got so much more than just a new apartment when you moved. You will figure out your own space, and how nice that you get to enjoy the views of other gardens, too. Not to mention friendly neighbors!

  2. I love that you have found this wonderful spot to settle, Brenda – even though I know you miss your patio, you can enjoy all the other gardens all around you, and your wonderful new community. I know you’ll figure out what to do with your own garden, as quirky as it may be. Perhaps tall rectangular planters all along the blocks? Something you won’t have to bend over to plant each year, and will act like a little ‘wall’ to enclose your patio? Just a thought!

  3. Brenda, I’m sorry that I don’t comment often but I read your blog every day and enjoy it so much! Ever since I saw your picture of the concrete blocks aligned along the edge of your patio, I’ve known exactly what I would want there. I would put the planters designed to be used as window boxes or for the top of deck rails, arranged end-to-end along the entire length of the blocks. With your designing talents, you could create a wonderful arrangement of heights, textures and colors. Trailing plants along the front would hide the blocks. I know that whatever you decide for the space will be lovely but just wanted to share my thoughts.
    Sherry in Little Rock

    1. No worries. I like that idea. But my daughters walk from the parking lot for the public to the back of my apartment. So they need a path they can walk through to my patio as well. But yes, I am thinking along those lines. I can’t decide if I want the containers made of wood or just use what I have.

  4. Your writing is more organized and happier. Now that you have moved you seem calmer, too.
    Will the owners of the complex pay for professionals to work out the problem of drainage?

    1. I think what they did with the cement blocks was their way of fixing the drainage problem. Some who have lived here back when they did all that in my yard said it took them quite awhile, as water was apparently seeping into the apartment. So that’s what they came up with to fix it.

  5. Could you order one of those raised planter boxes and put it in front of the pavers? Or is the ground too unsteady for that?

    I had to laugh about John and him buying plants willy-nilly; buying what appeals to him without considering the growing climate…as I tend to do that, too! I get over-enthused in garden nurseries and think everything is so beautiful, that I simply buy what appeals to me and then worry about where to plant it later. Might not work for everyone, but it works for me!

    You have such a nice, supportive community there. What a difference from your previous place!

    1. The ground is too unsteady now. It would have to be reworked or somehow smoothed out. That’s why it’s hard to walk on it. John just didn’t realize at the end of summer that some of his vines and plants were perennials. So when it changed seasons and they died back, he thought they were dead and yanked them out!

  6. Brenda, I have never had a garden or a yard that wasn’t already landscaped. I’ve never wanted to put my own stamp on a place. Now that I am in my new house I am a lot like your friend John. I was at the nursery the other day and I had a trolly full of plants, I started talking to a lady that looked pretty knowledgeable. After 5 minutes she started to ask me about each and every plant on the trolly, where I was going to put it, what sort of light. She then informed me that I had a “deer salad” and that nothing was actually going to work for where I intended. At which point I put everything back and decided to wait to the landscape architect to give us the rest of the plans and then request or ask if there is somewhere to use the plants that I want.
    Today though I did go “rogue” as they say and I planted dahlias and a bunch of flower seeds in an area that will not be getting landscaped until Fall, just because I wanted a little color. I am going to stand guard at night to keep the deer away.
    Sorry to be longwinded. I love seeing what you and your neighbors are planting and happy that you can help John.

    1. You couldn’t possibly be as “long-winded” as I am! It’s fine to use seeds because they’re pretty cheap and not a great loss. The reason I like to use containers is that they can be moved if it proves that the exposure isn’t right for them. It is said that summer days get brighter until the Summer Solstice in late June.

  7. Brenda, I think that the raised beds offered by Gardeners Supply would be lovely standing on the patio side of those cinder blocks and you wouldn’t have to bend over to tend your plants…just a thought.

    1. I love Gardener’s Supply. It’s where I’ve ordered some things in the past. I’ll have to go over and look at their raised beds. The blue one I had at the old apartment came from there.

  8. As someone else said just reading your blog I can tell you’re more relaxed, happy, peaceful and content. Very pleased for you!
    I’d be gardening like your neighbor John – just buying what appeals to me without regard to sun and shade.
    Boomer is a good-looking dog. Thank you so much for getting a picture of him. It’s always nice to ‘connect the dots’, so to speak.
    Enjoy every day, Brenda!

    1. I am making a point of enjoying every day. Sadness creeps in because of losing Gracie, but then I tell myself to move on to enjoy the remainder of the day.

  9. Maybe a neighbor or someone who has lived in the complex for many years could offer some insight your garden’s eccentricities. There really may be no rhyme or reason as to any of what remains there now. You seem so happy and making another beautiful garden would be the icing on the cake.

    1. I know what they did was due to drainage issues, or so neighbors who’ve lived here for quite a while have told me. But once they fixed that issue, they just left the rest to whatever resident decided to improve it I guess. Though I will have to check with them about making changes due to their underground sprinklers. There is one that sticks up in my yard 2-3 feet, so I’ll have to see how much of the yard it will cover.

  10. Just from reading your blog every day I can tell that your much happier Brenda!
    U have friends to socialize with everyday and beautiful scenery to look at! Your cooking and baking more instead of fast foods and that way you know what’s going in to your food and making it much more healthier for u to eat!
    Your family is close by and u still have Ivy to keep u company!
    Look at all the possibilities and positivity going on! Yay!

  11. Hi Brenda, love the pics of Boomer. He is adorable. So glad you’re meeting neighbors and enjoying their gardens. John sounds like a friendly neighbor. Since you enjoy gardening and the wild life in you complex I thought you might enjoy the Cornell Lab of Ornithology APP….Merlin Bird ID. I downloaded on my phone and iPad. When I sit on my porch I record through the APP the birds I see. It’s very easy to use! It helps Cornell track the birds in your area and migration patterns. It’s so important for Cornell that track climate influences on our bird population. Plus the best thing is just sitting on your porch you can track birds you are seeing. I love the APP. Blessings

  12. What a wonderful home you have … a friendly and caring community of neighbors is such a great thing!

    Did you have an opportunity to observe how the rainwater drains and flows near your patio? That may provide some insight into why the stones and rocks are in that particular arrangement.

    1. The rainwater seems to be draining. I guess that’s why they’ve built up the concrete blocks. So I guess that solved their problem. I hope so anyway!

  13. I noticed that someone suggested you might get a dog.
    I really think Ivy likes the idea of being the only animal in the house.
    If it were me I would try and look at it from Ivy’s point of view, would she
    like that or not really?

    1. I’m not getting a dog. The vet said Ivy seems to belong in a one-pet-only home. And that’s what she’s going to be. She’s doing well now and I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize that.

  14. So nice you already feel at home there!!! REALLY nice!! And what a cute doggie…and that you get to visit with him too…ha, no vet bills nor feed bills…amazing that he and Ivy did not get into a fight inside your house…but maybe Ivy remembers Charlie too…it is possible she might accept your having another dog, rather than another cat??

  15. Love seeing how happy you are in your new home ! Really enjoyed your decorating ideas for each room. Wishing you much happiness in your new home !

  16. Lots of rain and cooler temperatures in the Midwest. Yesterday it was 80 though!! A bit too warm. Takes getting used to.
    Brenda ,,,, wondering if you can affordably hire a professional garden service to fix up your patio?
    Newer pavers that will be flat so you can safely walk.
    They can clear up all the difficult patches of grass/dirt.
    🌸💮🌹🥀🌺🌻🌼🌷⚘
    Easier for you to maneuver.
    An idea to possibly work with.
    🐦🕊🦆🦜🦣🐜🐝🪲🐞🦗🕷🪳

    1. I’ve been thinking about it. Someone just to level out the space alone would be helpful. I picked up a business card for a landscape person recently. Might give them a call.

  17. I had to look up a word in your blog today – quixotic. What a great word! I will have to remember that one!

    In case that’s a new word for someone else, “If you describe someone’s ideas or plans as quixotic, you mean that they are imaginative or hopeful but unrealistic.” What a perfect word to describe John’s planting plans! 😀

  18. Boomer 🐶 is sooo cute!! 🐶
    Was happy to see a picture!!!
    Plants, flowers,, etc ,,,,, soon everything will be coming together nicely!
    You will be able to enjoy it all Brenda all summer ❤ long ,,,,, wonderful for our spirits.
    To see greenery and beautiful flowers makes us happy!! 😊

  19. I’m envious of your one month jump ahead of SE Wisconsin in weather! Still much to do to clean up here and I’m antsy to get going but I have to wait for the weather to catch up. A lot more of my perennials are sprouting now so I won’t be able to get into the beds with a rake soon, all the left-overs from last season will have to be picked out by hand, takes forever. Isn’t it wonderful to have neighbors that you can see daily and even if you just say hi and wave to each other and maybe exchange a few pleasantries, it’s socializing and keeps everybody connected. All those gardeners, how satisfying to have like-minded people exchanging ideas, advice and recommendations. I think Boomer must be an old soul doggy who instinctively goes to people he can sense the love in. Ivy recognizes this, it never ceases to amaze me what animals can sense, and she also recognizes Boomer as the same type of animal (male dog) as Charlie. Have you seen those hanging “pocket” planters that people use to create indoor and outdoor herb/flower gardens? I was wondering if you could have one of those installed one way or another on your patio, perhaps hanging from a movable heavy-duty frame on wheels that is strong enough to hold the weight, so it wouldn’t be screwed into one of the walls in your patio area, which the complex might not allow. Maybe you could tailor a ready-made pocket planter to fit your space by cutting one down to a size you like. Pots and planters on top of the concrete blocks would be lovely. The space you can maneuver isn’t as large as your former patio, but it can be made just as beautiful.

    1. I’m still mulling over what to do on the patio. I may just plant on the patio this year and do more next year. I just ordered a fountain. This one I can’t break like I did the last one, which was ceramic. I’m going to plant a few plants in the back of it.

  20. How great that you got a nice neighbor and he has a wonderful dog for you to see and enjoy too. Maybe you should think about another doggie to be a brother or sister to Ivy. She seems use to a dog. Since you are home most of the time you would have the time for a dog. Maybe get an older dog that is already trained so you do not go through that puppy stage. We are having lots of rain here but I guess that will help us here in the midwest to have green grass and our flowering trees will begin to bud.

    1. I don’t have a privacy fence here. And I’d never know when I would or would not be able to take it for walks to potty. So I’m going to stick with cats. Tempting though!

  21. I’m the one who asked to see Boomer, knowing he’d be a cutie, and sure enough, he did not disappoint! What a warm, happy, safe place you’ve landed in, welcoming to people, pets, and wildlife!
    I’m not a gardener, but my few attempts to be one saw me buying plants with the same enthusiasm as John does, then finding out that “full sun” is not just a “suggestion!” Our lot is heavily shaded. Once I realized that hostas are happy here beneath window boxes overflowing in impatiens, I found satisfaction with the way everything looks. I do enjoy seeing what everyone has accomplished, your posts will be fun to look forward to!

  22. A man after my own heart – John buys what looks pleasant to view. I agree. Our gardening season is such a short window of time so why not enjoy what makes you happy to see. His dog is so very sweet and I am sure he loves the attention you give him too. It takes a whole village has always resonated with me as we are all in this life together so make peace and appreciate every little moment which seems to be what living here is providing you with. Good meals together with others, gardening talk, visits with pets, and beautiful patios. Thank you also for telling me where the Boston ferns came from.

  23. Oh, I love hearing about your community and seeing all the pretty patios. I’m also glad to hear Ivy doesn’t get upset when other furry friends come for a visit. It sounds like she’s happy too. I like the picture of your neighbor’s yard where I can see the wind spinner and wind chimes. I have both in my yard, and I love them so much.

  24. I love what you said about feeling you have come home. Ironically even though the patio isn’t what you wanted it might be Charlie and Abi’s way of letting you know you need to take it easy, not to over do. They knew you all too well❣️ I think containers resting on the blocks might be perfect. 🌻🌸🌷

  25. Sometimes I find that it takes my mind a little time to do the adjusting to new “stuff” before I’m comfortable and pleased with my decision. Sounds like you are doing the same. Your little yard may not be perfect as you would like it but you are in a beautiful setting with lovely people around you. That is a real blessing especially as we age. Glad you’re enjoying your space.

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