When I moved out here in 1992 the yard was a blank canvas. There was nothing remotely resembling a garden except for a huge bed of ditch lilies up against one side of the house. I rented the front part of the house.
I used to sit on the front porch steps every morning and drink my coffee. Still do actually. I was missing gardens and gardening.
One day, while taking a load to the dump, I found an old shovel and brought it home with me. Nothing's been the same since.
I started small, so as not to shock the poor landlord. I dug up the space between the front sidewalk and the house. They couldn't get the lawnmower up tight to the house anyways. Then, to be somewhat symmetrical, I dug a matching bed on the other side of the sidewalk. I planted some annuals and my tomatoes and beans the first years.
Gradually, over the next few years I expanded to include all along the front of the house. Then, of course, I had to join the sidewalk beds with the front beds. Pretty soon there was no lawn to cut at the front of the house.
This old farmhouse had a huge side yard and pretty soon I was eyeing that too. I figured I could safely garden half way without bothering the people in back. I'd heard that the easiest way to make a huge garden bed was to cover the area with black plastic for season. I found me some black plastic, the dump is my friend :)) and covered an area in a big "L" shape across the rest of the front and halfway down the side toward the back. I settled back to let the sun do it's work while I planned all of the cool plants I'd put there the following spring.
About 3 days later I came home from work to a surprise. One of my neighbors (RIP Donny St. John) had borrowed another neighbors tiller and tilled the entire bed up for me. He wandered over while I was staring open-mouthed at the huge expanse of freshly tilled soil. I wasn't at all prepared!! I had no plants, no money...yikes!! This was no small bed folks. This thing was 50 feet long and 6 feet wide!! Donny just chuckled and walked back across the road, leaving me still gawking like a fool at all of the bare soil.
I did what I usually do when faced with such a situation. I made myself a cup of tea, got my lawnchair, sat under my tree, and stared at that bare soil looking for inspiration. A couple of cups of tea later and I was getting tired of staring at bare soil. My eyes started to wander to the fields around me. Then it struck me, like a hammer...I knew at that moment exactly what I was going to....and it would be spectacular!!
I threw my trusty shovel in the back of my truck and every day on the way to and from work I scanned. I scanned the fields and the ditches and the swamps. I dug up daisies, brown-eyed susans, viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare), buttercups and phlox. I dug Butter-and-Eggs (linaria vulgaris), globe thistles, birds-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), asters and mullein.
I brought home all of those scraggly, nutrient starved plants and lovingly planted them in my wonderful new bed with a shot of fertilizer. They thrived!!
People would walk by and mention did I know I was planting my garden full of weeds. I didn't pay them any mind...I knew exactly what I was doing. After all, a "weed" is just a plant that grows where we don't want it.
The garden was beautiful that year. That one year before I started gathering old fashioned perennials. I wish I'd of had a camera then. With loving care and a bit of fertilizer those wild plants out did themselves. I knew it would work from the moment I thought of it. I knew in my heart that Mother Nature wouldn't let me down, and she didn't!!