I live in Port Washington, NY. It's on the north shore of Long Island with the Long Island Sound to its north (and Connecticut further across the Sound), New York City 17 miles to its west and Montauk Point about 100 miles to its East. Long Island in general is in hardiness Zone 7 (according to the USDA), but according to the National Gardening Association, I live in hardiness zone 6B. There are a lot of microclimates on Long Island and Port Washington seems to be one of them.
The USDA planting zones are regions defined by a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in the average annual minimum temperature. To put the definition in layman's terms, the higher the numbers, the warmer the temperatures for gardening in those planting zones. To find out what zone you live in, check the map here: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html
Anyway, I live in this great house. But its a rental, so I am hesitant to invest too much time and money into a permanent garden. Instead, I have a bunch of containers and flower boxes that are overflowing to the brim. The house faces east, so I get a lot of morning and midday sun in the front. To the west and south sides of the house, there is a lot of shade from high canopy trees.
Last year I tried planting vegetables and kept them mostly on the back patio. However, they didn't do too well and I think it was because they didn't get enough sun. So this year, I moved most of the containers and boxes to the front of the house and planted annuals (and some perennials) that require part sun.
Here is how they looked the day I planted them around May 15 this year:
The 3 boxes were positioned next to each other in effort to look like a raised bed. These are the plants I used (all boxes are left to right in the front of the house):
Box 1: Digitalis purpurea "Camelot Rose" (Foxglove), Ipomoea batas "Bright Ideas Lime" (Sweet Potato Vine), Dahlia (annual), Dianthus "Super Parfait Raspberry" (Carnation), Nicotiana "Saratoga White", Antirrhinum "Rocket Bronze" (Snapdragon), Verbena "Tuscany Lavender Picotee", Lantana and in the back, 2 Morning Glory (pink/purple mix) and 1 Moonflower (Giant White) vines.
Box 2: Salvia guaranitica (Black & Blue Salvia), Lobelia "Superstar", Nicotiana "Saratoga White", Dahlia, Verbena "Tuscany Lavender Picotee", Antirrhinum "Rocket Bronze" (Snapdragon), Rubeckia "Tiger Eye Gold" (annual Black Eyed Susan), Lantana, Campanula rotundifolia "Thumbell Blue" (Bluebells of Scotland), 2 Morning Glory Vines (pink/purple mix) and 1 Moonflower vine (Giant White) [Added Lychnis coronaria in early June]
Box 3: Salvia guaranitica , Nicotiana "Saratoga Red", Euphorbia "Diamond Frost", Dianthus "Super Parfait Raspberry" (Carnation), Ipomoea batas "Bright Ideas Black" (Sweet Potato Vine), Argyranthemum "Butterfly Yellow", Coleus, Heliotrope "Fragrant Delight", 2 Morning Glory (pink/purple mix) and 1 Moonflower (Giant White) vines
My 4 year old son helped me plant the morning glory and moon flower vines indoors in late March. It was fun to watch them grow inside on stakes and it will be even more fun to watch them grow up the trellis and the railings.
In the back of the house, where there is part-full shade, I like to plant containers of coleus. I love the different variety of foliage colors and think they look great when planted together. They are so easy to grow and if they get too big or if a stem breaks, I simply put it in water for a few days, let the roots grow and then plant them with the others again.
Here is how the coleus containers looked in May:
One final spot is right at the base of a maple tree. There is not much soil there and lots of shade. So I placed 3 pots - two pots have pink and white caladiums with pink impatiens and the other has a big leafed Coleus with chartreuse colored Lismachia.
That's my garden, in a nutshell. I'll post some updated photos of what they look like in July, as they have really taken off. It may not be a sprawling perennial border, but it makes me smile and that what I think gardens and gardening is all about.
If you have a favorite garden you'd like to share or want me to comment on, let me know!