Karen Alley has been working with Carolina Gardener Magazine off and on for 10 years, but reading and writing about wonderful gardens doesn't automatically make you a gardening expert! While a passion for gardening has been a part of her personality since childhood, she will vehemently profess to not knowing much when it comes to the ins and outs of designing and creating beautiful landscapes, yet the desire is definitely there. This blog will follow Karen's adventures as she continues landscaping a relatively new landscape and starts a vegetable garden in a beautiful raised bed built by her husband.

Recent Blog Posts

Aug 26
The Summer of Rain  

Jul 18
Outsmarting the Varmits  

Jun 27
Trial and Error  

Jun 13
Second Time’s the Charm   (2 comments)

May 02
Full of Hope  

Apr 19
A Fresh Start  

Feb 25
Fun with the Birds  

Jan 25
Weather Watching  




Trial and Error
by Karen Alley - posted 06/27/13

I love flowers and I love to plant things. But I’ve never been formally trained in design, and I also am building my garden as I have time and money. So there isn’t really a grand scheme. I plant what I find on sale or what people give me, and it has kind of worked out. I say kind of because now, four summers into my little patch of what I call a “modified cottage garden,” there are things I like, and there are things I would like to re-do.


Here are a few of my successes and what you might call “errors.”


First of all, I love getting a few plants from Proven Winners each spring. They let garden editors try out some of the annuals that will be on the market the next year. I usually trust them to choose plants that complement each other. After all, they are the professional garden designers here. This year, I was a little surprised at the colors of supertunias they sent, I went ahead and mixed them up in my containers. At first I was wary, but now the color combination is growing on me. Maybe it wasn’t what the designers had in mind, but it’s been a colorful way to cheer up our entryway this summer.


Another combination that has been a pleasant surprise is this coreopsis blending in with my purple verbena. Last summer, the first for the coreopsis, it barely made it over three inches tall with very few blooms. But now that it’s more established, it’s growing well, almost as fast as this verbena that’s threatening to take over the garden.


Another plant I love is this balloon flower. It’s so much fun to watch it burst into bloom, and it’s big and colorful. But not big enough. At the time I planted it my garden was smaller, I guess, but now this flower is hidden behind a towering purple coneflower and a ‘Going Bananas’ daylily that is living up to its name. Maybe I’ll move it somewhere this fall where it will be seen more next summer.


Overall, I’m very happy with my haphazard design. It is fun to see everything grow and watch how combinations work. Maybe someday I’ll be more worried about making a design and seeing it through, but for now, my garden suits me just fine.



RSS | Print

Share this story on: