We have relocated to Illinois. We are about 40 miles northwest of Chicago in a village called Barrington Hills, horse country. There is a lot of space directly around us, forest preserves, trails for dog walking, and the Fox River. Our house is across the street from a farm and a block away from the river on a wooded lot. We have fenced in a large portion for our cinco perros to run and play. In Puerto Rico, I found tropical plants were quite large and fearless of dog traffic. Here, I am a little skeptical that I can have such luck. My plan is to keep it wild. I seeded bare areas with a native blend of grasses that is reaching a medium height of 8-10 inches and is keeping the dog paws cleaner. Spring was mud season where we spent a majority of our time wiping off bellies and feet.
As for a plan, I am intrigued by a phrase I heard describing a yard as a “jeweled lawn.” I got to thinking about this and like it. I am trying medium to tall grasses with flowering plants interspersed. This will take years, but I am starting now. We are woodland. I have spotted some things already, like trillium, ferns, fleabane, daylily, and a bunch of natives I am learning all about. The aim is for plants that reseed wildly, and so far, I think that nature is already doing some of that for me! These plants will be mowed over making walking paths that follow the dog runs throughout the yard. I am also creating human paths with entrances and exits more towards the interior of the yard.
The “jewels” I am adding this year either by seed or small plantings.
-liriope/turf lily/mondo grass
-sweet Joe pye weed
-black eyed susan
I have 5 beds I started by covering in cardboard. I have some tomato, eggplant, pepper, herbs, and flowers in them. They really are laying in a break in the trees and get less than adequate light, but things are trying.
Every garden is an experiment, and this one, I am going pretty blindly into. We got here mid winter. I have guessed at plants and trees as they slowly show their true selves. The first year is always observance. So far, I am pleasantly surprised at the natives that were already here. All in all, this is a curated wild space, something I am looking forward to getting deeply immersed in.