October 27, 2010

My plants' habitat

A few thoughts about the garden I'm currently nurturing. We're located in Zone 5a, according to the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Our habitat, though, seems firmly planted in Zone 5. We're a few blocks east of Lake Waubesa and at the foot of a glacial drumlin--both of which temper the climate a bit.

The lot is pie-shaped--about 1/4 acre, lined in the back by a small Oak forest. The Oak trees provide shade in summer, and because they lose their leaves, they allow the southern sun to warm the house in winter. Here's a view of the backyard in early summer:

As you can see, most of the lot is shady during the growing season, which limits the types of plants that will grow here. But I've been amazed at the variety of shade-loving plants that thrive in this spot. I've even been able to cheat a little in spots with dappled sunlight--nurturing plants that generally grow better in the sun. I have a very small sunny garden on the west side of the house. That's where I grow vegetables and a few sun-loving perennials. It's kind of overgrown in this picture, but you get the idea:

I inherited this beautiful oasis. Most of the perennials were planted by the previous owners, although I've added a few here and there. And I hope my tending has helped to at least maintain it. Every year this place looks different. Plants come and go. The dominance of ground covers and volunteer plants shifts. It's actually a pretty magical place.

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