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Gardening for 50+ Years – FineGardening


Today we’re visiting with Linda Colson in New Jersey.

I have gardened on the Cape between the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean in Cape May County, New Jersey, for 30 years since moving here from the mountains of western Pennsylvania. All I knew from my 20 years of gardening in clay and loamy soil was challenged by the sandy soil of this seashore area. It took the addition of a lot of manure and other amenities to enrich the soil, and a lot of tender loving care to enhance the soil. What fun it has been!

miniature cottoneasterThis is in early spring, before any blooms have appeared. In the foreground is a border of miniature cotoneaster with the variegated Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ (Zones 5–9) and dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’, Zones 3–6) that invite entry into a birdbath area. Iris spikes await their blooms, and autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora, Zones 5–8) along with hostas fill the background. The building in the background is The Shed, a pole barn construction built by the Pennsylvania Amish. It houses my art studio and my husband’s workshop.

green garden bedHere’s the same garden at the same time of year, but photographed from the other side. Azaleas abound. To the left is a viburnum, and behind that is a pink Pieris japonica (Zones 5–9) that has reached 7 feet in height and just keeps on giving.

azaleas in bloomThe azaleas are in bloom. Visible in the back is a hedge of boxwood that privatizes the garden from the walking/bike path that passes the back of our property.

rose campionThis side garden shows off rose campion (Lychnis coronaria, Zones 4–8), moonlight coreopsis (Coreopsis ‘Moonlight’, Zones 6–9), endless summer hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’, Zones 5–8), and random planters of New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri, Zones 10–11 or as an annual) added for color. I am proud to say that my gardens have earned certification from the National Wildlife Federation for many years.

raised gardensMy husband built the raised gardens, which in this spring picture are planted for the season.

turtle in the gardenThis is just one of the critters that I so appreciate in my garden. I have photographed tree frogs, snakes, toads, wild turkeys, praying mantis, butterflies, and a variety of birds too numerous to mention. It’s a joy to come across a visitor while I’m working and know that they all take part in keeping my gardens healthy. My gardens are organic. I have never used any toxic products.

garden harvestJust a few of the fruits of our labors. Of course, part of the joy of gardening is looking forward to rewards like this throughout the season.

hosta and fern garden bedThis bed of hostas and ferns enjoys a shaded area of the gardens.

sedum autumn joyThis shows ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–9) with coleus tucked in behind. The coleus is an heirloom from my mother that I have saved from season to season for 30 years. The rock wall was built by yours truly with the help of my husband. In the background is just a peek of my treasured garden house, which my husband built as an anniversary gift in 1994. There isn’t any place I’d rather be than on my knees in the gardens. It’s my “happy place.”


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