The Birth of a Small Container Flower Garden
This is first in a series of essays on how I am converting a small (12' x 16') yard in Cody, Wyoming (USA) from a barren wasteland of pea gravel and total shade to a useful summer room that is a delight to senses. I am doing this from April to October, with a budget of about $100 (US) per month. Please come along with me on this journey. I expect it to be fun, educational, frustrating and I'll love your company.
When you think of Wyoming, you probably picture vast forests, beautiful meadows, big game and Old Faithful. All that is here, but it's not in Cody. Situated at eastern gate to Yellowstone National Park, Cody was founded in 1900 by Buffalo Bill Cody. His Irma Hotel (two blocks from my house) is still in operation.
Cody is in USDA Zone 4 and gets about 13" of rain per year. I am writing this on April 15 and so far we've had about 2.5" of moisture. We are in a "rain shadow" created by mountains in Yellowstone. Moisture coming in from west rises up to Continental Divide and drops right there. I can see this in action when I stand in my kitchen window and watch huge clouds evaporate as they sail in from west.
We moved into this rental house in January. The yard looked like any yard in January - brown and bare. But I looked at all that pea gravel and no sign of grass and row of shaggy unkempt elm trees and knew what I was facing. So I began to plan.
Of course first stop is always gardening books and magazines that are full of dreamy photographs of gardens in places where it (a) rains and (b) owner invests price of a college education in their landscaping. Sigh. But if folks on that TV show that takes design inspiration from rooms done in highest style and reinterprets them with items from yard sales and import stores could make a polyester satin purse out of a vinyl pig's ear, I could too!
So here is basic plan, and what I have achieved to date.
The yard is out kitchen door, with a lovely view of driveway and street. The neighbors have an enchanting vista out their living room window. My husband and I will use space for cooking, eating and relaxing. The house shades yard from east, row of elms and neighbor's house shades it from west. The southern exposure on street side gives about 3 hours of sun on very edge of yard, and northern exposure is a nice view of sky and row of unidentified shrubs along fence.