Evolving From Vegetables to Flowers

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I am Laurie Fischer, and I garden in northeastern Ohio. I’ve been gardening in the Midwest for over fifty years, but this is the longest in one place.

This garden began as a single vegetable and fruit garden about fifteen years ago in the lower section of the yard. As an artist I always enjoyed intermingling flowers with vegetables, and so I expanded to a second mirroring bed with blueberries between. But when groundhogs overwhelmed them several years ago, I began the conversion to flowers. Take that, groundhogs!

The blueberry and raspberry bushes remain to help form the gardens’ structure. Gradually I’ve added the Japanese maples, trellises, and shrubs. (Each of the last several years I’ve used a small evergreen for our holiday tree out front, then moved it to a prepared space in the garden.)

The lot is narrow and long, offering some great borrowed background scenery. I continue to expand new beds up the yard, most recently to the hillside slopes to eliminate mowing on some treacherously steep areas.

Most of the roses were anniversary and birthday gifts from my husband. My initial ideas had not included roses, but I can’t imagine the garden without them now! The Japanese maples, pink climbing rose, and some clematis were given to me by friends and hold happy memories.

The garden is a constant joy and has been a particular respite for working at home these last many months over the pandemic. We love watching nature and have always gardened organically, and I’ve included more and more native plant species to help support pollinators and wildlife over the years. We see a marvelous range of beings here and enjoy watching them all year. We still see some groundhogs, but we no longer offer their favorite buffet, so they mostly leave the garden alone.

pink and white clematisA clematis (Clematis hybrid, large-flowered group, Zones 4–8) wraps a birdhouse in flowers.

early summer gardenIn this early summer view of the garden, Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) foliage adds color on the left.

bench looking out to the rest of the gardenConifers large and small add year-round structure to the garden. I love the idea of acquiring new ones as holiday trees and then planting them in the garden.

garden bed with bright pink climbing rose in the middleAn exuberantly happy climbing rose overwhelms its trellis with blooms.

bright pink rose growing in front of a trellisLooking at another beautiful rose, it’s hard to imagine Laurie didn’t plan on growing roses at first!

lots of pink flowers growing togetherThe two roses together—hard to beat that display!

various flowers growing in front of a large treeA few spires of foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea, Zones 4–8) show off perfectly against the dark backdrop of a conifer.

wide video of the full gardenIn this long shot of the whole garden, the whole design pulls your eye to the focal point of the beautiful blue spruce (Picea pungens, Zones 2–7).

lots of brightly colored flowersEnormous lilies (Lilium hybrid, Zones 4–9) are combined with bright red Gladiolus (Zones 8–10 or as tender bulbs) and the spires of gay feather (Liatris spicata, Zones 3–9).

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