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My Front Porch Garden and Yummy Tuscan Soup

Jean SmithAs you drive into my lane my garden's begin to envelope you .... although it wasn't so when we moved here. As I've mentioned in previous posts, there weren't any gardens when we purchased our old farmhouse.  We gardeners often have lofty aspirations... dreamily perusing our favorite gardening magazines and making notes on things we want to incorporate. Longingly waiting until we can create a new bed, stumbling upon a new rose bush and making the season's first bouquet of sweetly scented jonquils.  Spring is only a few days away and although there is snow covering the ground on our farm, I know my tulips and daffodils will soon be peaking up and sending me warm greetings of love...  

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My front porch garden started out like most projects... lay some stones, fill with dirt and plant some flowers- presto, new bed. Well, to say the least she was the beginning of my 'lofty aspirations'... she has been the inspiration for the multitude of gardens now surrounding our home.  Here is the story of the dawn of my front porch garden... and beyond.This garden has been a challenge with several 'make-overs' for her to boast. It was the first bed I attempted to create... it started as a simple four foot deep, straight lined bed off the porch, wrapping around the side of the house and leading to the back door. If you remember in my previous post on the bistro garden, this bed went right up and around to the back door where the bird cage is. I laid rocks around as a border and then filled in with soil, planted several perennials and lots of annuals the first year. That year we also laid a cobble stone walk around this bed and the side of the house.  The banister garden came along shortly after. We've made gobs of changes since then... as you'll see.

The next year we discovered a sidewalk completely grown over with sod.  It was only by accident that Neil ever thought to check what that 'stone' was (and was probably wishing he'd left well enough alone)... lo and behold he kept finding more and more 'stones'. He spent an entire Memorial day unearthing, by hand with a shovel I might add, over thirty 2x2 concrete step stones! What a find- at least I thought so ;-). So began another project- we needed to choose the new walks location. This is when we decided to build the front arbor... so after some figuring was done on its location, we had a plan for the walk. It would be laid on a slight and natural angle widening off to about six feet from the original bed. Now there was going to be this triangle shaped section of sod between the walk and the flower bed... 'extend the bed' I said! So we did.

Now for more work. We removed all the rocks,the cobble stones only in the front, dug all the plants that we could, raked out the soil, and then dug the sod by hand. We then laid black plastic where the bed and the walk would be, replaced the edging rocks and brought dirt in building it up about a foot deep. We put sand down where the step stones would be laid so we could get them fairly level, not perfect by any means, but very cute none-the-less.  We took the cobble stones from the front and placed them beside the others in between the banister garden and first cobble walk, thereby doubling it in width.  Extending that four foot deep bed out to reach the new walk led into the creation of the breakfast patio and front arbor with picket fences. As you can see from the photo's, the porch itself has had several face lifts and continues to change each year!

Well, after all that I thought this bed was set... I planted several perennials that fall and had some big dreams of how things would look next year... the next year we had a drain issue! Neil and a friend had to bust a hole in our porch, replace a main drain pipe and dig right through the garden (killing a newly established clematis and my lupines), through the sidewalk and across the lawn (killing two of my precious Miss. Kim lilacs in a new hedge planted by the road!) I was devastated, but I had to keep a positive perspective... a new climbing rose would replace the clematis and I'd try lupines again. 

This bed is yet to my perfectionist 'cottage garden' standards- yes I realize that is an oxymoron, but you know what I mean if you're a cottage gardener.  Dreaming of new gardens and spring on the horizon keeps me pining away until at last I'll be sitting on my porch waiting for a friend to come up the lane.

To see all the great photos that go along with the post, please take a trip over to my blog's NEW HOME at
http://fordragonfliesandme.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/my-front-porch-garden-and-yummy-tuscan-soup/  

Here's a yummy soup for the last of these cold, winter days...
Tuscan Soup
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 medium potatoes
1 lb. Spicy Italian Sausage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups chopped kale

Brown Sausage; cool.
Combine the broth and cream in a sauce pan; slice the unpeeled potato into 1/4 inch slices; add the browned sausage; add the kale.
Add the spices and let soup simmer for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Happy Day,
Jean
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