Living Scrapbook: My Little Side Yard Garden

This seems to be a banner year for my little side garden.  Virtually everything is in bloom or promises to in short order. The tiny plot is small and shady, but full of wonderful memories.

side yard garden

Side yard garden darlings: petal pink azalea, budding Jasmin, blue fescue, white and purple alyssum, pink azaleas camouflage the meter

When we bought the house 18 years ago, the narrow space between our house and the neighbors was in sad neglect.  A ragged shrub divided the property line, creating a dark, narrow opening between the garage and the gate to the back yard.  In short, it was a pass through

The side yard was low on the list of household projects since we didn’t spend any time there. Of course, if you garden, every bit of available soil eventually meets the wandering eye.  What if we…

So when the neighbor asked if the shrub could go, the answer was a resounding yes!  Between households, there were five children, all under the age of ten so I suggested a ‘children’s garden.’  It would be a place for them to play, plant and experiment. A small wooden bridge, once in the backyard, spanned the tiny space and unified the area.  I relocated my dinosaur topiary and Mike transplanted a pair of azaleas from the back yard. The kids loved it. At one point my six-year-old decided to dig a ‘hot tub’ in the middle of the garden.  Shavings of sidewalk chalk turned into magic dust, as long as you believed. I miss those days of wild imaginings.

planting the children's garden

Planting the children’s garden

digging in the dirt

Digging in the dirt

Within a few years, the neighbors moved away.  Our boys got older, the bridge began to rot, and the garden morphed again.

As it turned out, the little bridge proved to be an excellent hiding place for snails.  I’ve never seen so many of them congregated in one place. Out it went.

We planted sunflowers in front of the lemon tree, but it eventually took over.

I planted Alyssum from starters and a bag of wildflowers.  Just enough came up to fill the garden that summer, but just as quickly, they died off in late fall.  I added a few begonias, transplanted overgrown fescue from the fairy garden, and eventually the baby tears meandered over the exposed dirt and made themselves at home.  Our dwarf lemon tree moved in at the edge of the garden and agreed to stay.

sunflowers take off

Sunflowers take off

measuring the sunflowers

Measuring the sunflowers

Our little patch of garden makes me smile. It feels like a living scrapbook of our years in this home. It mirrors the ebb and flow of life.  It’s also a reminder of the joy to be found in a tiny patch of dirt.

view from the gate

View from the gate

view form the neighbors side

View from the neighbors side

Fescue, Alyssum, vinca, and the trunk of the lemon tree

Fescue, Alyssum, Vinca, and the trunk of the lemon tree

19 thoughts on “Living Scrapbook: My Little Side Yard Garden

  1. That was fun to see all the changes over time. The only constant in life is change as we so well know. Do you keep a physical scrapbook of all these garden photos? Those with the boys in them would be the most fun. Like the one on the ladder measuring the sunflower. Delightful!


  2. I love that you shared this space with the neighbours – does it continue this way now the boys are older? I have a hankering for communal gardens where children are safe to play together and neighbours can share the plants. You seem to live in such a lovely community!


    • We are so fortunate to live on this street. Everyone is involved and supportive in many different ways.

      The neighbors now living next door have two children as well. They’re fine with the status quo, so I continue to garden the patch and all is well. I hope that continues for years to come.

      What is your community like, Pauline?

      It’s so nice,by the way, to have you back.


      • My immediate community is rather insular and not at all social – mostly transient. Though having said that I now have a lovely neighbour, a young man who has recently purchased the cottage next to me My other neighbour drinks a bit too much and likes spraying poison to keep down the weeds – but is otherwise friendly and likes to help out……. It’s an odd bunch I’ve found myself among 🙂 Luckily for me I have other communities 🙂


        • That’s a shame. I’ve lived in places where I didn’t connect at all with the people around me so I do understand. The last placed I rented, before I married Mike and we bought this house was nice, but before that we had a hateful neighbor who set a trap on his deck for my cat, then dropped him off at the shelter. My cat was gaining access to his apartment through an improperly sealed attic. The neighbor was so livid that he followed me to my door screaming and then proceeded to pound on the door over my head threatening to “kill your f***ing cat”. I’ve never been so frightened. We were able to break the lease and move under the circumstances.

          When I called the police that day, they said that it was illegal for him to threaten to kill me and illegal to actually kill the cat, but that it wasn’t illegal to make the threat.

          Anyway…good riddance to that time in my life. Perhaps the poison-spraying neighbor will move and a cat-loving gardener will move in instead.


          • Great Scott! That is a dreadful tale – I am glad you were able to get out of the lease! There are some dreadfully unhappy people in the world – I always wonder what their stories are … I once had a rather angry neighbour who rapped loudly on the door and demanded to my daughter that she keep one of our cats off her property where he was apparently going potty. We had such a laugh over that, especially as the cat in question was one who had decided to move in with us and who would not take no as an answer – there was no telling him what he could do or not do! We called him Gulliver as he travelled so mysteriously………

            I suspect my old gin-loving neighbour is well pickled and will probably out-live me 🙂


            • Gulliver, you clever cat.

              I know you’re right. These people are truly unhappy themselves and spew that anger and sadness at anyone nearby. It’s so draining though, isn’t it?

              How long have you lived in your current abode, Pauline?


  3. That was a fun trip down the garden path. You’re really clever to have had your camera in hand along the way. Even before digital I assume. I wish I had done so. The Azaleas are especially fetching. I sure wish we could grow them here. I’m starting to appreciate perennial grasses more now. I really didn’t care for them a first because they looked just like my neighbours weed ridden yard at the lake, LOL. It’s fun to see the boys grow up along the way. To bad those snails enjoyed the bridge too, it was a cute little thing. Pretty fab to have such good neighbours. I hope we will too.

    I’ve read along thru the thread between you and lovely P…..unbelievable! What a louse to scream at a woman and follow you to the door. It’s when you wish you knew someone really intimidating that you could send over and tune him in. Thank goodness you were able to relocate.

    We adopted Jasper in British Columbia on a holiday the summer we bought our lake house. We had a week before our move and were renting a house in a small country community. One morning before work, I had brought Jasper outside to pee. He was just a little puppy. Somehow my attention got distracted momentarily. All of a sudden the guy next door (who I had never met in over a year) was on his porch screaming and swearing at me. I guess Jasper had sniffed his way across the property line (no fence). I was mortified and grabbed Jasper. My ex went over there but came back and said, “don’t let Jasper out of your site, the guy is certifiable, keep the doors locked when you’re home”. I was scared out of my mind for the next week until we moved. What a freak. There’s men in this world who hate woman and animals and themselves.


    • Thank you so much.

      I’m incredibly envious of your writing skills. You make it look easy (and we both know that it’s not).

      My dad was a horticulturist, though I’m the only one of the three of us that inherited his love of plants. I garden wherever I go. I’ve been known to pull out an obnoxious weed while waiting for someone to open the door. I used to take my sister’s houseplants home for rehab, then give them back. It’s nice to have a passion that includes fresh air and exercise along with the beauty of nature.


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