I don't love annuals. I don't love growing food. I've tried for years to grow food, especially when my children were small. Unfortunately food I try to grow dies or gets eaten, but not usually by the humans of the household, usually snails are the winners in the food growing in my garden.Birds follow a rapid second. I did on occasion grow a few raspberries or strawberries. These were apparently lovingly fed to the pet rabbits by my children!
Comparing my own to my dad's garden, I have no ecosystem, there is grass and over grown grass with the odd Iris given to me years ago by my grandmother, fortunately they appear to thrive on neglect. There's plenty of that in my garden, which means ants, bugs and snails run riot with impunity.
I have a busy life. I have always liked to do sports and have an active social life, fitting everything in to my day is always a challenge.
When the kids were little it was work, childminders and friends. I often left the house early and came home late. By the time the kids were settled in bed having been fed and watered, the plants had been without water for too long and they were shrivelled and straggling.
I have several memories of my childhood of planting Runner beans in coir pots which you re hydrated to make them grow from a flat disc into a pot. Definitely magic.
I loved picking the beans and ate them as snacks. I loved the purple and black colours of the seeds. They were always very sweet if you ate them fresh from the plant.
I don't know if I will be able to grow food in the future as I age. I have a fantasy I will have more time to dedicate to it and therefore be more successful.
If I ever have borders more than 2 1/2' depth I might have a go at incorporating veg in amongst the flowers. I'm always very inspired by such a mix, even when I had no interest in gardening. I'm not sure I could grow vegetables in lines. I was never well enough behaved to follow such regimental order.
I have started to try growing easier foods, raspberry, black currants, strawberries and herbs. These have limited success in my tiny garden with minimal support or encouragement. I will have to try harder to nurture them. I'm also considering onions, and maybe a cabbage or two.
The first year I planted which had been started years ago and since neglected. It had grape hyacinths, lily of the valley and irises as well as Rhubarb which was clinging on for grim death. There were also love in the mist which self seeded every year and lots of grass.
Because of the soil composition it is easy ish to plant in spring, by mid May, if its warm the ground is solid. I soaked the ground and pulled out the majority of the grass and weeds. I added rotted manure and bark chips and watered regularly for a couple of weeks, no digging, just putting in a trowel and making a space to put sand, manure or old compost and covering in bark. The rhubarb loved this and flourished.
I then added saliva, rudbeckia, chives, geranium, rosemary, aquilegia, cornflowers and daisies with snap dragons.
The geranium and rosemary sulked, the aquilegia and cornflowers limped along, but everything else flourished and I added red sage which struggled due to its proximity to the rhubarb. I also discovered an agapanthus which my husband had thought a weed and pulled up or strimed for 6ish years, it was beautiful when it finally was allowed to flower. I added other bulbs and allium.
The following year I added a toad lily and brunnera to a neglected corner. The toad lily succumbed to snail snack fest.
In the front garden I planted daisy, echinacea , foxglove, bluebell, saliva, snap dragon, silver bells, campanula and knautica, as well as tulip for spring. The effect was a wilderness of colour. As the seasons continued I noticed the previous snail wasteland, inhabited by mini-beasts, being frequented by birds who, now had hiding places, bees, damselfly and the odd butterfly attended. Also sitting out in the garden was cooler and much more pleasant.
I had worried about the fact that the garden, has partial shade during the day and when it was a lawn, at least half was either dead or moss covered, however everything is growing well, needing little care and the ants have stopped trying to gain access to my house in favour of climbing plants to eat black and green fly. Win, win