When I bought the house there was nothing in the back yard.  I waited to do much of anything because I knew I would be throwing "junk" from the second floor out the kitchen window.  When all the "demolition" was finished I decided to start thinking garden. 


(August 1992)

Against the house, I planted red currants and gooseberries.  Along the south side I put red and golden raspberries.  The back fence needed softening so holly went there. I THOUGHT I was planting bushes. I keep trimming but it's gotten out of hand. I have to address this issue soon!

Because I went to college in the South there were 2 plants I definitely had to have, English Boxwood, and Southern Magnolia. I wasn't sure EITHER would survive-- but isn't that a lot of the fun of gardening, seeing if you can grow a plant above its zone?  Until I could find a hardy Southern Magnolia I decided to settle for a swamp magnolia--- same white flower-- summer blooming, same magnolia fragrance, but the leaves aren't big or waxy and they don't stay on the tree all winter.  The "swamp magnolia" is supposed to be a shrub but as the catalogue said it would "turn into a small tree" if it likes its location.  I guess it likes its location.  Perhaps it likes it too well.  

I  was  in Williamsburg one summer and found they were selling English boxwood from one of the James River plantations so I bought 4. I planted them in front of the garage.  You can see the puny little bushes in the August 1992 picture above. They take FOR---EVER to grow.  A friend went down a few years later and got me 2 more.  I know I tested my friend's friendship because I was informed THAT  "those plants STUNK up the car!"  Some people think English box smells of cat urine.  I happen to think box smells like box.  It is an odor you either like or don't, I guess.  The fragrance reminds ME of Virginia.  Box and magnolia take me back to college days.

(Boxwood 1999)

By 1999 the boxwood had grown to this size.  They still aren't large enough for me to do any trimming to use in Christmas decorations.


Approaching the garden from the side you can see the holly bushes I planted in an attempt to cover the back fence, to create my own little "Secret Garden".  The only problem is that 2 of the hollies that I planted turned out to be of the tree variety rather than of the bush variety and now I am on a schedule of yearly pruning to get the trees back under control.


I planted a New Dawn climbing rose on an arch over the garage door and when the rose in in bloom it is indeed a lovely sight.


As you can see from the picture below, the swamp magnolia likes its location. It became a tree rather than a bush and is in the left center back of the picture.  The area between the  raised beds is covered with quahog, ( i.e. hard shell clams and  pronounced KO-HOG) shells.



It took a while to find the right outside lighting so it didn't look like we're in Hawaii instead of Rhode Island but I finally found something.




(Summer 2001)


The lilies usually put on quite a show in August.


While at Monticello  one year I saw a hibiscus that, even though it's out of our zone, I had to try growing.  It does very well.  The color is a bit "vibrant" and the leaf...... well it's shape was worrisome until I saw that it was indeed the leaf of the hibiscus. 





Sorry that this picture of the hibiscus has a problem.  I'm not really very good with a scanner.


A magnolia catalog company from the Northwest provided me with a southern magnolia hardy enough to survive here, in a sheltered garden.  The only catch is that southern magnolia branches are brittle and on those rare occasions we get snow I'm out knocking the snow off the branches lest they snap under its weight and some winters are rougher on it than others and I loose lots of leaves making the tree look sickly the next summer.   Still,  those  rare occasions when I'm out with a broom are more than made up for when I can walk over to a magnolia bloom, inhale and say--- "AHHHHHHH,  YES!"  The trees, there are two of them,  aren't yet tall nor bushy enough for me to pick any leaves for use in Christmas decorations.