Evolution of a Garden


Consider the changing landscape.

by Charlie Thigpen

Photography by Chuck St. John


Every day a garden changes. It might be subtle, but gardens never stay the same because plants are living, and they grow and die. New leaves unfurl and blooms open and fade daily during the warm season, making each day in the garden a new experience. We photographed this small landscape that wraps around the toad house in early spring and then again in the summer. You can see how much the plantings changed in just a few months. Just think how much your landscape will change in a day, week, season or year.

Adjust for Shade or Sun

I don’t know how many times I look at someone’s yard and they want to know why their turf grass is dying. I explain that the tree they planted 10 years ago is starting to mature and shade out the turf. They often say, “Well it used to grow fine,” and I have to remind them that grass won’t grow in the shade and that the conditions have changed. Then they want to know what they can do. I tell them if they want grass they can cut down the tree or plant shade loving shrubs, perennials or ground covers in these shady areas.

Nature’s Force

A few years ago a tornado passed right by our house, and in a matter of minutes we lost 17 trees. In the blink of an eye the landscape changed. I plant differently now because we have sunny areas in our once shady yard. We have to be flexible in the garden and change with the conditions. We must also be observant and know when to make these changes.

Seasonal Changes

Spring, summer, fall and winter bring different weather conditions, and you’ll need to adjust your plantings accordingly. In the summer I try to stock up on plants that will take the heat and require little water. When it’s hot and dry, I try to plant only the hardiest of plants such as lantana, ornamental grass, salvia and succulents. In the winter I plant cold hardy plants such as giant red mustard, violas, pansies and snapdragons.

Life Point Landscaping

When my son was young, I built a pirate playground in the backyard and his little play area changed the look of our landscape. After a couple of years he had outgrown the playground so we tore it down and used the lumber to build a small garden shed. Often times families with multiple children have to create additional parking as their children get cars and begin to drive. Whether you manipulate your landscape or not, it will change. Work with the conditions you are given and you’ll have lots of success in your garden.

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