Shirley's Garden

Description

As long as I can remember, my mother, Shirley, has planted the same vegetable garden plot and separate flower beds in the backyard of the house she and my father, Bill, have lived in since 1969 in Mason City, Iowa. Planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables and flowers comes naturally to Shirley as she grew up on a farm in north central Iowa. 
 
I have fond memories of playing in the yard many summer days as a child, while Mom worked in the garden. Mom would point out the swallowtail caterpillars on the dill, which continues to self-seed each year for the caterpillars. I loved to eat the sweet carrots, fresh after rinsing the dirt off in the outdoor water spigot. As an older teen, I ate meals of fresh, ripe tomatoes, sometimes still warm, from Shirley’s garden. 
 
Shirley’s garden has grown tomatoes, carrots, sweet peppers, beans, green onions, dill, lettuce, and the obligatory marigolds at each corner to repel pests and attract beneficial insects. Shirley has more recently added cucumber, the vines of which intertwine along the nearby chain link fence.  
 
One of Shirley’s flower beds I remember as a child displayed roses in my favorite shade of pink. Her flower beds today contain prolific poppies; zinnia; butterfly bush and milkweed to invite butterflies; Black-Eyed Susan; Nelly Moser clematis; iris; phlox; daylilies; tulips; and a variety of annual flowers. 
 
These days, Mom faces the challenges of battling rabbits and, more recently, the deer, who navigate their way into town and scale the chain link fence to access her garden! Mom finds creative ways of establishing barriers between her vegetables and the wildlife. Additional challenges have arisen as a result of climate change, such as wetter springs and heavy / flooding rains in Iowa, all of which have required late planting and/or replanting. 
 
In more recent years, as I’ve expanded my own gardening experience, we exchange photos and stories of flowers, vegetables, and wildlife developing in our gardens. 

-Story contributed by Melissa B. 

Photos Show

Monarch butterfly on Shirley's flowers

Monarch butterfly on Shirley's flowers

Many pollinators visit the garden. [View Additional File Details]

Shirley's garden

Shirley's garden

Shirley has both a flower garden and a vegetable garden in her Iowa backyard. [View Additional File Details]

A butterfly in Shirley's garden

A butterfly in Shirley's garden

The colorful flowers bring many visitors to the garden. [View Additional File Details]

Shirley's poppies

Shirley's poppies

Double and single flowers. [View Additional File Details]

A polyphemus moth visits the garden

A polyphemus moth visits the garden

Pictured on Shirley's hosta in her garden. [View Additional File Details]

'Nelly Moser' clematis

'Nelly Moser' clematis

Climbing up a support on the side of Shirley's Iowa home. [View Additional File Details]

'Nelly Moser' clematis

'Nelly Moser' clematis

This cultivar produces striking star-shaped flowers. [View Additional File Details]

Black-eyed Susans and butterfly bush

Black-eyed Susans and butterfly bush

Shirley's flower beds are home to many pollinator-attracting plants. [View Additional File Details]

Zinnias in Shirley's garden

Zinnias in Shirley's garden

A swallowtail butterfly is attracted to the abundant flowers. [View Additional File Details]

Harvest bounty

Harvest bounty

Tomatoes and cucumbers from Shirley's garden. [View Additional File Details]

Cite this Page

“Shirley's Garden ,” Community of Gardens, accessed December 10, 2019, https:/​/​communityofgardens.​si.​edu/​items/​show/​12397.​
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