Overwhelmed by inherited garden

belleduggan(8)May 12, 2014

I have an older established flower garden that I inherited when I bought this house. It has been neglected for quite some time by the previous owners which has resulted in plants and plantings growing together and becoming intertwined making it difficult to determine which should stay and which should go. My question is how do you decide that? How much if any open ground should be left between the plantings? I have included a picture which I recently took, after clearing off years of deadfall and weeds.

I would appreciate any help or advice, as I am new to gardening and feeling very overwhelmed.

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Actually the broad picture that you show doesn't look too bad . I'm sure close-ups would be different.

You should first identify what plants you have, if you don't know them. For that, take close up shots and put them in the "Name that Plant" section for others to help.

Knowing the plants and what are near them will help determine how much space you might want to put in between. At the same time, keep in mind that a naturalized look isn't all terrible, especially in a garden that looks like it has been around for a while.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:23PM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

Hi there. We purchased our house last year and found ourselves in a very similar situation. The couple that lived here was here for over 60 years, and as they got older they couldn't garden anymore and things got very overgrown w/ weeds, trees that weren't meant to be planted, poison ivy, etc.

I agree... if you don't know what it is and are worried about removing anything you may want - definitely wait and ask! I ripped out 20+ oriental poppies when we first moved in because I was new to gardening and thought they were weeds since the leaves and stems were fuzzy.

As far as spacing goes, that really depends on what look you are going for. If you like the more natural cottage gardening look they can be much closer together. If you want it to be more formal there should be larger spaces in between flowers. My mother-in-law has a more formal garden and there is probably 9-12 inches in between each flower.

Can you take some close ups of the garden/flowers? Aside from being overwhelmed, do you have any specific questions?

Definitely get IDs on plants, that will help you decide what you want to keep and what you'd like to do up. Is there anything you definitely don't want to grow or anything you know you'd like to add to your garden?


    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:34PM
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Thank you for the kind replies.. This picture is a small version of what I have been dealing with on a much larger scale. Its hard to know what to pull and what to keep.

Apparently the original owner that built this house with her husband, was an avid gardener and recognized throughout the neighbourhood for her gardens.. She lived herefor 50 years and sold the house after her husband passed and she couldnt keep it up anymore.

The second owners did nothing at all with gardens except to plant bulbs willy nilly all over the property. I would love to be able to restore Mrs. R's gardens to some of their former glory but fear I am in way over my head.. lol I am going to post a picture of a plant I am unfamiliar with but that I have been literally pulling out by handfuls, in hope that someone can identify it for me. Please be kind and remember I am a total garden noobie :)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 11:41PM
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I have been pulling up this pale sage stuff from all over the place and I have no idea if I should be keeping it or what it is?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 11:47PM
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Also added to general chaos is that the original owner loved ornamental grasses and iris..and has several varieties planted throughout the property, sometimes, it is hard to know which is what and indeed what is not ornamental but rather just some traveller that has blown in and seeded.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 11:51PM
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robo (z6a)

What an interesting garden! It looks waaaaaaaaay better than my inherited garden so I think you're in good shape.

I'm a novice gardener myself so someone else may be a lot more knowledgeable than I am, but I believe the sage stuff is lamb's ear, which is a popular perennial. It spreads pretty easily so you don't have to feel shy about pulling it out, but it has pretty purple flowers.

In your first picture, the hairy, sort of lettuce looking leaf on the lower left is lady's mantle, which is another freely spreading perennial. Mostly planted for the foliage. Looks sooooo pretty in the rain and as a backdrop to flowers.

Looks like you might be close to my zone so feel free to post some more pictures if you like. I can id some common perennials.

You can probably pull the grass in your first picture, the forget me nots out of the bed (I leave them in my lawn), and if that's mint in the right hand background of your second picture, you might as well start trying to get rid of that as it will overtake all else.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 11:58PM
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robo (z6a)

Ps the blessing of an established bed is that the weed control is actually easier .... Little weed seeds find it relatively hard to compete with big old perennials. So maintaining these beds will be nicer than if you tilled it all and started over. Ask me how I know :( .... the answer is gout weed.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:03AM
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I just wanted to pop in and defend the mint. Granted it does take over... it smells amazing. My doggies occasionally roll in it... and then they smell good enough to eat! Lol.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:04AM
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Second picture down - plant in front is what we always called quackgrass. Wise to get rid of it before it gets into the lawn.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 1:26AM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I would look for a guide to local weeds and pull those first

If the first close up was in my garden I would say weeds (malva-grass-gopher weed) but they might be different in your zone

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 1:38AM
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Progress is being made and I will post a follow up pic soon. Thank you everyone for the thoughtful help and responses.

I have a question about hellebores, do you cut them back after blooming? Mine are quite large and started to look ragged.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:13AM
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Progress (I think?)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 3:11PM
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this bed is still only half done. I fear that I am a scorched earth gardener lol

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 3:13PM
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I'd love to see more pictures. Nice work!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 6:16AM
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You have made alot of progress! Beautiful pics! Feel free to post more!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 11:59PM
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I think the 'pale sage stuff' is lambs ear. I like the foliage a lot. The flowers aren't attractive to me so I remove them. Easy to divide.

You've got a fabulous garden. And your hard work is definitely bringing great results. Mrs. R is smiling down at you.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 8:09AM
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