Jolene: Establishing a Garden in Upstate New York | 2013 Summer Garden Tour

Welcome to our third week of the Summer Garden tour! This week I interviewed Jolene, who happens to be friends with Elizabeth, last week’s interviewee, in real life. Jolene is sharing a great video tour of her garden at the end of the post—be sure to check it out. She braved the rain to shoot it for us!

+Where do you garden and what is your climate like?
I hail from Rochester, NY which is in the western portion of the state along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. I live very close the the mighty Genesee River which flows north, bisecting the city. Rochester falls in zone 6a, so plants must be able to withstand a minimum of -10 to -5 degrees Fahrenheit. We have a humid continental climate, and we never lack for precipitation. Snowy winters. Warm summers with plenty of thunderstorms (this year especially). Pleasant autumns. It’s a great place to live and garden!

+When did you first start gardening? How long have you been gardening at your current residence?
I started gardening as a child growing up with my dad in the suburbs. He had some flower gardens out front, and he ceded some land in the back for my own gardening space. It was pretty tame – a miniature rose bush, some lilies, hens and chicks, wild Sweet William. My mother had extensive gardens in her yard(s). Whenever I would visit her house I would wander around masterpieces asking questions and pulling up weeds. When I got married seven years ago, my husband and I bought a house in the city. They yard is much smaller than I was used to, but came with some gardens. The woman who lived here previously had many rose bushes that I inherited.

+Which plants have been your favorite to grow? Most difficult? Any major plant losses that have bummed you out?
I am mostly a flower gardener. My attempts at vegetables have been unfruitful (HA – pun intended!!) I have tried tomatoes in the ground and in pots, but I never seem to be successful. The only vegetables I had true success with were peppers. Habaneros. Tons of them.

I love taking care of my roses, but over the last three years many of them have died or are producing very few flowers. They are plagued by black spot… I suppose I should do some more reading on these to save what I have left.
My favorites are my lilac bushes. I am so pleased with the seven bushes I have! They are hearty and produce an abundance of flowers. I love the fragrance in mid-May.

+What plants would you like to have in your garden if you could?
I would really like to have some more clematis in my garden. I have one – a fall blooming variety with small yellow flowers. I have trained it pretty well to grow up the side of my house where I have a trellis. There are few other places in the yard where I can successfully grow clematis, so I have been hesitant to plant more. I should plant more annuals for more color. I should plant more blubs. My tulips have a poor showing in the spring. Every year I plan to do more, but it never happens.

+Anything new and exciting growing this season?
The irises I planted three years ago have gone a bit crazy this year. They bloomed twice last year, and I just split them and transplanted some in the back yard.

+Share anything else exciting in the yard!
This year I purchased a composting bin. Previously I would just throw most of my garden waste into a pile in the back corner of the yard. It didn’t really do much in the way of making compost though. So with this new bin, I am venturing out. I am working on getting the ratios of green to brown right. I never seem to have enough brown. The process has been slow, and I’m not satisfied with it yet. This is another area I’ve got to spend more time researching and implementing!

Thanks Jolene! You can find more of her garden and other writings at her blog. Also, don’t forget to stop by throughout the coming weeks to see the rest of the Summer Garden Tour.

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