Creating a Summer Flower Garden - A Look Back

Glorious summer blooms are popping open in the garden bed that I began creating last summer when disaster - or in hindsight - opportunity, struck.

Below, a pretty vignette currently blooming in my new summer flower garden.
yarrow 'Paprika' in bloom summer of 2018
It all began when we learned in the winter of  2017 that the old, single story home next door would be torn down and two, back to back homes, with two + stories (and a mere 7 feet from our property line) would be built in it's place. It was a shock and it took me awhile to develop a game plan to adjust my gardens to the change in sun exposure they would inevitably endure. My previously sunny back gardens would become partial sun, making the front yard my best bet to grow summer blooms. In order to capitalize on this sunny area, I would have to rip out a beast of an old (80+ years or older) privet hedge.

Here is where we started. Below, in March 2017 the little white house next door would be torn down. Notice the big, privet hedge. It was very overgrown and gave our little, postage stamp sized front yard, a lot of shade.

Next, we see the little white house is gone and the first of two homes is framed. This would be early June 2017. The privet hedge still looms large to the right.

I think the port-o-pottie company placed their product perfectly..haha
As the second home began to get framed in July 2017, it was easier to visualize the change that was going to happen. It was time to tackle the monster hedge. We started by cutting the hedge back to expose the main trunks.

The hedge had holly, english ivy and indian plum growing in it. A nasty mess. An old chain link fence, leaning heavily to the neighboring side, had branches growing through it.

I made the assumption that the old chainlink fence wouldn't be desirable to the builder and would be replaced. (I was only partially correct. They planned to pull it out but not replace. I successfully reasoned that the fence it should be replaced.)

The hedge is gone and we only broke two tow ropes in the process!

I continued to dig out left over roots in the following weeks; I was determined not to have them sprout up and ruin my future garden.

Below, the old chain-link fence is gone. It's likely October 2017. Notice is how close the homes are. This has been a hard adjustment.

However, I distracted myself with planning the new garden area. A new little wooden fence was put up in place, which looked much smarter than it's predecessor and by late autumn I planted my summer garden bed.

The front half of the garden bed was full hellebores, ferns, lamprocapnos and aquilegia. I needed to plant the back half.

My dream was to build a garden that would have blooms year round. I kept the hellebores and aquilegia and added lupines, centranthus, siberian iris and poppies for late winter to mid spring color.

I added three trellises and after great suggestions from gardening friends on FB, I purchased 'Hall's Honeysuckle' for their ability to attract hummingbirds, not attract aphids and yet still provide a sweet fragrance.

For summer blooms, I dug up all of the echinacea, yarrow, sedum and phlox from the back yard and moved them to the front. Then, I bought more plants.....because more is better!!

Here's my reward:

a sea of vibrant colors - echinacea
saliva - 'Black n' Blue'

echinacea purpurea and happy bees

echinacea 'cheyenne spirit' with purple flox

echinacea 'Tomato Soup'
I'm happy to report that I've gotten a variety of bees to visit along with dragonflies, swallowtail butterflies and Anna & Rufus hummingbirds. My little gardeners heart is content.

echinacea 'pow wow purple'

native yarrow
Overall, I'm so happy to have all of these summer blooms to enjoy. I see some that I need to move to improve the overall design and man, if I can cram in a few more...I will. Nonetheless, I am enjoying this colorful scene and all the visitors that it's attracting.

This is my....'life gave me lemons and I made lemonade' story.

Cheers, Jenni


  1. You really did make some yummy lemonade there, Jennifer. You are flowers are so lovely.

  2. I love the 'Tomato Soup' Echinacea. Do you find it to be as hardy as the pink ones? With that riot of color maybe you don't even notice the house next door(?)

    1. Too early to tell about the 'tomato soup' echinacea. It survived last winter, where temps dipped into the low 20's for a few nights. I've been babying the plants this summer , hoping to help them get solidly established.

  3. You really did make the best of an awful situation. I can't even wrap my head around how close that new house is to yours. It's insane. Have people moved in yet? I hope you get the most wonderful neighbors possible. You deserve that.

    1. I have two new families in the neighborhood. They are very nice people. The front house has a little 4 yr old boy, who is quite the charmer. The back house has a teacher who loves to read as much as I do. They seem like very nice families :)

  4. More is better, yes! Good job, Jennifer!


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