May - What’s in Lisa's Garden?

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Your Regional reporter

Lisa Colburn regional reporter photo

Lisa Colburn is a crazy gardener, great cook
and author of the Maine Garden Journal.

Seventeen years ago, when I moved into my little house at the end of the street, it almost appeared that the house had fallen from the sky onto a big lawn. The previous owners were not gardeners. They’d planted a few cedars under the eaves in front of the house and proceeded to torture them for the next thirty years by hacking them into submission. By the time I came along, they were a sparse tangle of branches trying to grow away from the house to reach sunlight. A lone tree stood on the lawn – a Crimson King Norway maple – a tree now banned in the state of Maine because it’s considered invasive.
I moved into this home with a new husband who still didn’t know or understand the depth of my passion for gardening. Nevertheless, that first spring, he helped me cut the scrubby cedars and dig out the massive roots. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” That first summer, I assessed the soil and watched where the sun lit the yard. I planted annuals where the cedars once grew. “You mean you have to plant those things every year?” Never question a fanatical garden geek – it’s like a challenge!

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Winter view of my house in 2002 . 

Annuals grow where the cedars once stood.   

After living on this property for an entire year, I was ready to start gardening in earnest. My first task, however, had nothing to do with plants. I wanted to create a way to direct visitors to the front door as well as to the back yard. I put in a curving stone path that drew visitors around the side of the house. The bonus – it also provided an edge that separated the lawn from the front garden beds. By fall, the invasive maple was gone, and a crab apple graced the corner of the house. Tulips were scattered between small shrubs and perennials. The next spring brought bursts of color. “Someone was taking pictures of the flowers in front of the house! What are they called?”

The new stone path winds around the house in spring.

The stone path surrounded by mature plants in summer.   

One of the ways to my husband’s heart is through his stomach. When he tasted fresh, sweet, organically-grown strawberries and raspberries coming from the vegetable garden, he was sold! He has become the chief berry picker - making sure we have fresh fruit in our cereal each morning. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, beans, broccoli, asparagus, rhubarb, and the list goes on… Now, our own vegetables, fresh, frozen or dehydrated are part of almost every meal. We are gardeners - each with a different focus. Gardens provide food for the body and food for the soul!

:Fresh, juicy strawberries.  

My happy gardener.