The waiting-for-my-garden-to-fill-in blues

newbiehavinfun(7a - Southern NJ)May 26, 2010

I've just started my first garden in the past couple of years. Everything is so small! How do you stand waiting for everything to fill in? What can I do in the meantime?

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I know somewhat how your feeling. I am waiting on my winter sown seedlings to mature. The only thing I could thingk of to help, and its really not much.Is to buy and plant annuals, since they mature fairly quickly.Thats the more expensive route. If you have any mature plants, you could play around with propagating them from cuttings. Or plant annual seeds which you will be waiting on again, but just not as long as for perennials. Good luck, and enjoy the process. Be sure and take pics if you can so you can look back to where they started, when your gardens are gorgeous and full.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 11:54AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I just stick annuals in between. It really looks good because it gives instant color all summer until frost. Or just buy some zinnia, cosmos and nasturtium seeds and plant those.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 12:02PM
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I know it's hard - I just start my first garden 3 years ago and it looks AWESOME today! but my 2 larger backyard beds and my north (front the house) and west beds are all under 1 year old and everything is so very young. unforunately I plant things very close together and they are still reaching their maximum widths so I'll have to move some things around.

I spend a lot time imagining what it'll look like when everything's grown up, and I also take a ton of pictures, so when I get discouraged with seeing bare spaces I go back and look at the pictures from 2-3 weeks ago or even last year when the beds didn't exist and think how far things have come.

I also spend a ton of time looking up and researching plants I want, making wish lists and need lists and asking friends/co-workers/family if they have stuff to divide :)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 12:05PM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

When it rains, direct sow zinnias, melampodium, cosmos, etc. In the fall, direct sow poppies, larkspur, and nigella. It's made a huge difference for me this year.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 12:17PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Don't feel bad newbie, the main portions of my gardens have taken seven to eight years to really fill in!! Some of the smaller 'nook' gardens have matured faster, but the bigger spaces always take longer it seems.
But it is well worth the wait! I agree with craftlady, when you look back at your garden in a few years time you will not believe how far you have come.

What to do while you wait for things to bulk up? Sit back and enjoy the show!!
Happy Gardening ;-)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 12:33PM
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sprout_wi(z4 WI)

"The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap".

But I was so impatient, I kept adding perennials in all the bare spots. Now, I am having a 'leap' year and can't believe how everything has jumped up.

Hold that vision of your soon-to-be beautifully verdant cottage garden and before you know it, you will be reaping the rewards. Be sure to post photos, when you do!!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 1:07PM
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I have the same problem, so I buy clearance annuals and flats of alyssum...on sale :)

The annuals give me some color (I sow seeds, too) and the alyssum fills in the spaces and keeps the weeds down. In a perennial bed, the alyssum should reseed and be nice every year...great fragrance, too.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 1:42PM
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newbiehavinfun(7a - Southern NJ)

Thanks for the advice, all. I forgot to mention that my first garden is a shade garden, so some of the seeds mentioned won't work (but I'll keep them in mind for when I work start my next garden on the south side of the house!). My goodness I'm just so tired of looking at mulch! I want it all to fill in and crowd about. I follow the recommendations for how far apart to plant things. Hopefully the gurus that write the plant tags know what they're doing.

On the plus side, I've found a few plants tend to grow quickly:

lobelia vedriansis (sp?)
hydrangea Limelight

And others, sloooowly:

Japanese forest grass
hydrangea Lemon Wave

Of course, the shade doesn't help. I guess there are two ways of doing things: plant for how big the plants are going to be, or plant how it looks good now and then move it later. I chose 'A' and now I'm being impatient.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 2:04PM
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try astilbe in the shade (think they can be started as seeds, if not, then I'm pretty sure there are tubers you can get at the big box stores) - also lungwort, polemenium (jacob's ladder) are good for the shade and filled out nicely for me this year (they're done blooming though).

I have started some forget-me-not seeds and I read they're shade tolerant ground cover so it might not be too late to try those.

For some inspiration, even though this is in full sun, here's the garden this morning that 3 years ago at this time was grass hill...


    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 2:38PM
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newbiehavinfun(7a - Southern NJ)


So pretty! And my favorite colors! Luckily, a lot of purples bloom in shade. I will definitely add some more astilbe and jacob's ladder. I gave up on astilbe last year only to find that it cropped back up!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 2:53PM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

the trouble with spending time researching plants is that you end up tempted to buy more of them. :)

My yard started out like this in Dec

in early January it looked like this:

now it looks like this:

It's hard to see, but my roses, which mostly were bareroot sticks or tiny bands have gotten so so much bigger and some are blooming. The whooly thyme inbetween the pavers has gotten at least 3 times their original size... and I can't kill them... they're so tolerant. :)
my grass on the otherhand... I'm slowly figuring out how much water it needs compared to the lavender which I seem to be overwatering...

so... if you get too many different need plants at once, it might take a lot just to figure out how to water and keep them from dying huh?

I look forward to each single bloom on a plant and the growth, even though it's slow... and I just enjoy weeding and checking on the plants every day or so. It's also fun to read about all the plants and think ahead to what I might plant next year.

and like others, I'm seeding some alyssum and simple daisies and such.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 6:42PM
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...what Token said... I agree 100%. My garden has a "peak season" right now with the larkspur, poppies, cornflowers and nigella... hiding among the meadow look are all of my perennials that will peak in July and bloom until frost.

Here is a link that might be useful: my filler plants in bloom right now

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 2:59PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

I'm so impatient, too!! I started filling in with perennials, and I know it will be more work for me down the line because I'll have to move lots of it somewhere else. DH hates when I move stuff!

When I get really bored, I start a new bed. :D

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 2:53PM
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