My First Adventures in Gardening

At age 36, the most experience I’ve had in gardening has been a pot of cilantro and a few other potted flowers that I grew on the back deck of an apartment. However, being a homeowner of over three years, I decided it was time to give the “builder basic” landscaping an upgrade–something with color, depth, and variety.

For our recent birthdays, my wife and I each received a little cash (thank you, Aunt Meghan!) and we wanted to make the most out of it that we could, so we thought investing it in our home would be the way to go.

With absolutely no idea of what I was getting into, I went to my front yard to take “Before” photographs and attempted to identify the existing plants. I was confident that the crepe myrtles in my flower bed were, in fact, crepe myrtles, but I was (and still am) less confident that I have positively identified the other shrubs. Laying dormant, I learned, were a nice collection of yellow daylilies.

Next, I used a Google Maps satellite image to draw out a map of the flower bed and mapped out my current assortment of vegetation, giving me an idea of the canvas I had to play with once we arrived to the nursery. Here’s a look at the before image:

Next, I piled the family into the car to head to home depot to select some flowers. There we found a beautiful array of choices. After a half hour of exploration, we decided on a bright and bold palette of white petunias, yellow miniature marigolds, vibrant pink cyclamen, and deep blue pericallis. These selections were modestly priced and helped us to stick to our budget of <$150 for flowers. Next, I’ll breakdown the cost and our haul.

Home Depot Haul Breakdown:

4x Flats of 12 (48)White Petunia$12.48$49.92
2x Flats of 12 (24)Yellow Marigold$12.48$24.96
5x 1.63 PtPink Cyclamen$4.98$24.90
3x 2.55qtBlue Pericallis$7.98$23.67
2x cu ftGarden Soil$3.97$7.94
1x Hand Trowl$4.97$4.97
1xGardening Gloves$5.98$5.98
Everything fit nicely into the cargo area of my Volvo XC40

After Returning home around 5PM, I began the task of planting. This involved digging large and deep holes for the Cyclamen and Pericallis, and a long and narrow trench for the pentunias and marigolds. As I removed some of the Texas clay, I filled holes with a layer of the garden soil, planted each flower, and then filled and covered with additional soil. During this process I found a good layer of top soil from years of decomposed mulch sitting atop a layer of clay that reminded me of my high school art class, almost the exact same color and viscosity.

Darkness fell as I was rounding out my planting, but I adjusted my floodlight so I could finish the task. As I was finishing, I realized my spacing had yielded a few extra pentunias and marigolds, so I used an empty flower pot sitting in the garage to add some color to our front porch. I filled the bottom with some of the clay I had unearthed, and filled it with the remaining garden soil. Once finished, I watered it all generously with a handheld watering can. The flower bed in which these flowers reside is equipped with a soaker line from our automated sprinkler system, so keeping them watered should be a breeze once I am able to dial in the appropriate watering pattern (if you have any pro tips, please get in touch or leave them in the comments below).

The Results

This morning, after making coffee, I was able to inspect the fruits of my labor as I went to pick up the Sunday paper. Here are a few photographs as well as a before/after composite of my crude PowerPoint landscaping map.

Here’s a Before and After of the landscaping map and curbside view of the house:

With the planning and planting of these flowers complete, my gardening adventure has just begun. I’m excited to see what I learn through the spring and summer!