Greenest Thumb Entry: Kathy's Illinois River Garden

Greenest Thumb Entry: Kathy's Illinois River Garden

Heather Blaha
Jun 27, 2006
Welcome to Kathy, a Green Thumb contestant from central Illinois.

  • Name: Kathy
  • Location: Peoria, IL, along the Illinois River
  • Size: 500 sq. ft.
  • Type of Garden: Perennials and more...
  • Part of my 500 sq. ft. garden (made up of a few different sections) sits right below the screened porch. I'd like to say that I created it, but I didn't. It was here when we moved to central Illinois near the Illinois River. The soil here is awful, so this perennial spot was perfect for how little sunlight hits it.
    (Read more below the jump and before you vote!)

    I never knew anything about perennials, so I experimented with transplanting first. A good time to do this is early spring when the perennials are popping out everywhere! Everything in this spot has been thinned out and planted in other spots around the yard so I saved a lot of money by not buying plants at the store.

    The soft-leafed plant in the front is called "Lamb's Ear". It's hard not to touch them when walking by. They grow like weeds and I actually mow off the ends that keep creeping onto the lawn. A friend shared a small cutting with me. I just put it in the soil and watered. Hostas are also very easy to grow and don't mind being moved and thinned. There are so many varieties of hostas that they get to be a bit of an obsession. Off to the rear are lilies that are blooming right now. In the forefront of the bottom picture are day lilies. You can't miss with them in your garden…very easy to grow and very low maintenance!

    The hollyhocks are your "Grandmother's flower", and they really are! These were grown from my grandmother's seeds (which I didn't plant for 3 years). I had to be patient and wait 2 years for these blooms. Believe me, if I can do it, anybody can!

    The rest of the garden is called "My Secret Garden" because it's sunken and very private. The chairs were here when we moved in and I decided not to trash them (Paint is a wonderful cover-up). My overall theory is to have a garden that is easy to maintain, comes up (by itself) every year, and needs little water, since I travel during the summer months. I also like it looking like it's been here forever, very natural, and not perfect. Another tip is to look for unusual pots, containers, statues, anything that might be a conversation piece to add to your garden. (Tips NOT from a master gardener!)

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