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How Does Kate's Garden Grow Series: On the Bright Side

by Kate Saliba

Summer has officially come and gone, and without a doubt, it was a good one. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the disaster called my garden. It’s overgrown, neglected, and under watered, and it’s ALL. MY. FAULT. I feel guilty about it, but I’m trying to redeem myself by focusing on two good things that came out of this year's gardening season: my front yard transformation and my dinner plate dahlias.

Since we moved in, the front yard was made up of holly bushes (foundation plantings) and sad looking grass. See the picture below (and please pardon the used bike and carriage lot on the porch). The grass never did that well due to lack of sun and poor soil, making it basically a dirt patch. So, this spring I decided to dig it up, replace the soil, and plant shade perennials in hopes of creating something more visually pleasing.

I transplanted hostas from the back yard, snagged some creeping jenny from my mother-in-law (thank you, Gigi!), and bought a few vinca plants. The result is below. It’s still filling in, but it’s a big improvement and I’m hopeful that it will continue to do well. Our neighbors are enthusiastic too! 

Since I’ve become interested in gardening, dahlias have always been a favorite. They require full sun, which I don't have, but I grow them anyway just to say hello every year and harvest whatever blooms decide to show their face. Despite my incessant neglect, my dinner plate dahlias are very happy (dinner plate refers to the large bloom size—in this case 8” diameter). The blooms are enormous bursts of magenta awesomeness, and I love bringing each and every one of them into the house for display.

You’d think given the state of my garden that I might actually throw in the towel (it’s that pathetic). I’m not giving up, but perhaps I will to set more realistic expectations for next year. For now, though, as the air becomes crisp and the days become shorter, I will greet my front garden with a smile and relish every last dahlia bloom.

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