grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Colleen's Organic Detroit Garden

Name: Colleen Vanderlinden
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Size: ¼ of an acre
Age (of garden): 6 years 

Bio: I’ve been gardening since I was about 20, but I was bitten by the gardening bug as a teenager (it took a while to get my own garden.) Between pulling weeds in my mother’s garden and spending lazy summer days as a little girl lying under my grandmother’s giant lilac bushes, I’ve been in love with plants for a very long time.
I’m a garden blogger and writer. I blog at In the Garden Online, and am the organic gardening expert for and I lived a longtime dream last spring when my first book (Edible Gardening for the Midwest) was published. I feel insanely lucky to be able to make a living writing about things that interest me.
Type: Backyard
Style:  I guess if I were being generous, I’d call my garden a cottage style garden. I’m one of those people who falls in love with a plant and figures out where to plant it after I’ve already brought it home. So it’s kind of a mess, but it suits me.
Inspiration: Books and magazines, other garden bloggers, nature, and farms. (You know those people who say that a veggie garden shouldn’t look like a farm? They’d hate my garden because I actually want that straight-row, farm look!) My front garden was inspired by the book “Front Yard Gardens,” and seeing how much more could be done with the average American front yard.
Favorite Plant: It’s a tie between my ‘Miss Kim’ lilac and my ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes.
Biggest Challenge: Trees! We have six shade trees on our lot, one of which is a ginormous silver maple that sends roots everywhere. So between the shade and the roots, it can be tricky to grow everything I want to grow. The upside is that we always have plenty of leaves for mulch and compost.

What your friends say: “You got rid of more grass, didn’t you?”

Biggest embarrassment: This is going to sound stupid, but I’m really not easily embarrassed, so I can’t think of one. I’m sure I’ve made gardening faux pas, I just don’t care
Proudest DIY: All of the raised vegetable beds in my garden. Each one we add means more fresh food for my family.

Biggest indulgence: I’m really cheap by nature, so I don’t have many. I bought a few really nice, big glazed pots for the front porch last year, and that’s probably the most I’ve spent on anything other than mulch and manure in a long time.

Advice:  Just do what makes you happy. Don’t stress out when something doesn’t work out – that’s life in a garden. Also, don’t be afraid to try something just because the “experts” say it’s wrong. You’re the expert on your garden, and you might just know a few things they don’t!
Dream Source: The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) catalog. I literally spend hours looking through it, dreaming. And this year I finally joined SSE and got the huge yearbook, with all of the available varieties listed. Heaven!

Garden Tour


  1. Nice tour! I love seeing all of the edibles in Colleen's garden.

    @Colleen, how do you keep that reed fencing up? (To what is it attached?) I bought some of it almost 4 years ago now, and I can't figure out how to put it up securely unless I "borrow" my neighbor's chainlink fence to do it!

  2. I just loved your tour. I loved Colleen's statement about getting rid of more lawn. When we moved into our new home my husband started talking about getting a riding lawn mower, I just wanted to plant things that didn't need to be mowed.

  3. Kim-- Some of the fencing is attached to large fence posts we dug into the ground. Where we were able (because we have nice neighbors who don't mind) we attached it to the chain link fence with zip ties.

  4. Love it! I like you even more Colleen!

  5. Sorry I'm late with responding but I just wanted to say that I loved Colleen's garden. The raised beds were my favorite.

  6. Colleen, your garden is beautiful! I'm also a fan of Bordine's, have been there to browse with my mother-in-law.