Gardening at the Top Gun Abode

The garden at our house, aka, The Top Gun Abode, has really taken off this year.  After two full spring and summer seasons here, I'm starting to figure out what works in the landscaping, what comes back each year and what could still be added to the spaces I have.  With all the rain we had this season I'm happy to report my garden is bursting out all over the place.  There are a few spots that need some work - pulling out plants that aren't growing well or are in places not quite suited to the plant's needs.  It's still a learning curve.  The biggest area for me to tackle this year is the odd pocket garden we have in our back entrance corner of our yard.  It's a spot that doesn't get full sun and the edges don't get rain since the house eaves don't permit the rains to soak into those spots.  The learning curve continues….
The garden in May - planted lettuces, tomatoes, beans and some herbs.
One area I really want to make work
Here we are in July! Tomatoes have taken over the plot!

My meager attempt at starting some lettuces from seeds. They grew,
but didn't take off - as I started them too late and then they got dwarfed by other plants.
is the new raised bed I put into the pocket garden.  It's doing very well and I hope that next year, I'll be able to make the raised bed and the rest of the space work and have a strong focus.  Liz bought the raised bed kit for me for my birthday, back in March.  I think I put it together in May - probably right around Mother's Day. I don't tend to put any plants in the ground until then, so that any frost we may have are sure to be done for the season.  I didn't know what to do with the four-square.  I knew I wanted to use good soil, and it seemed like I couldn't get enough.  There were multiple trips to Home Depot and the Garden Center for bags of organic soil, mulch, hummus and other nutrients.  
Spring planting and blooming.  This was before the rain and hot spells
Other areas are doing well.  The yard we have seems to have several "climates" or zones; shady areas under the trees and behind our garage.

Full sun spots towards the immediate back of the house.

The yard is nicely fenced with a large privacy fence.  The entire patio space is cement but there is a two foot border around the entire perimeter that is spaced out with dirt and is filled with plants and flowers.
Hardy Perennial Hibiscus 
A lot of stuff was already in the ground - with many surprises that come up each year.  Hostas. Lillies of the Valley. Day and Tiger Lillies.  Cone or Echinachea Flowers.  Hardy Perennial Hibiscus.  Sea Grasses.  Black eyed Susans.  Roses!  I've added a few plants and shrubs too, plus the huge planters I brought from my South Philly yard.

I turned the wall fountain into a planter.
The fountain motor broke but the rest was too pretty to waste!

While the yard is pretty on its own, one can always touch up and add some more pretty and pops of colour and style!  I love being able to use my Mexican Pottery!  I've added outdoor decorations, other Mexican wall hangings, metal signs, etc.  I'm hoping to get a collection of antique gardening tools to hang on the fence too. Right now I have a series of Nate's plastic beach shovels and tools hanging on the fence near the entrance.  It adds color and a lot of whimsy!
And I'm recycling/repurposing an old magazine rack that's been kicking around from house to house for many years.  This year I found fun succulent plants that were on a mat of coconut coir and mesh.  You can cut it and put it into place in some dirt or dirt substitute called "brownie" which holds 8 x's its weight in water.  Perfect solution for plants that need minimal care and watering!

Tiki Torches in French Umbrella Stands - filled the bottom with rocks and sand,
 topped with dirt and centered a pvc pipe in the center to hold the tiki torch.
Added plants for color and beauty!
Patio tomato plant.  I bought it fairly well-grown and it's gotten 3 or 4 times bigger.
As for the current status of the vegetable patch in the raised bed over in the pocket garden, I came home from my vacation to see the plants were doing very well, despite a week of heavy rains and then a week of hot blazing heat!  I definitely need to plan out the planting and varieties of vegetables next year.  For a haphazard experiment, I think it's doing okay.  I wish things were producing more, or that I had realized how huge tomatoes (even wee cherry and grape tomato plants) would grow!  They took over the spots and my poor basil, chard and lettuces got dwarfed!
Cucumbers! One plant has done well. I think I have 3 or 4 cucs growing now!

Zucchini Plant.  I'm not sure if it will ever produce.
This baby zuc died before it reached maturity.
I didn't even have a chance to pick it and eat a baby "heirloom" zucchini!

My jalapenos are doing very well.  I picked three before I went on vacation and there are three more growing!

My herb garden on my back porch is doing well.  2 kinds of basil;
lemon thyme; parsley; cilantro (not fairing well) and tarragon.
Perfect for popping out of  the kitchen and grabbing a handful of fresh herbs every day.
My Morning Glories.  The seeds are either from my South Philly garden, 2 years old now, or seeds I picked up from plants that I would spot around town.  In either case, once you have morning glories, you have them for life!

My "volunteer" Maple Tree Plant.  6 or 7 years ago, we bough a plant at Bartram's Gardens.
A seedling grew and became a sapling.  Every year I thought it would die come winter.  It was literally growing from a seed and now is this huge "tree".  I even cut the top of it off and cut it back so that I could fit it into a moving van when we moved out of South Philly.  

Strawberry Plants.  At the Food Swap I attended in April, I received a bag of strawberry roots.
I barely planted them in time before they rotted/died.  I guess they were hearty because only 2 died and what looked like gnarly balls of twigs have grown into these lush full plants.  I think next year I may have a lot of strawberries!
Garden Critters - found 4 of these uglies on my tomato plants.  This horn worm with eggs was the first I spotted.  I found three more the next day.  
While I would love to have bushels of tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers and zucchini to pull out of the garden, I'm quite content to get what grows.  There is always next year and with some real planning, I hope that my future gardening endeavors will result in enough produce that I can can my own vegetables and use the farmers' market as my back-up!


  1. Gorgeous! I've had NO luck with basil or tarragon this season! :(

  2. There are many types and forms of gardening. Organic gardening is a unique method of gardening and allows the gardener to really bond with Mother Nature.


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