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My sweetie and I have been gardening our double city lot for nearly as long as we’ve lived in our house.  First we took out to mock oranges to make way for raised vegetable beds. Then we got rid of several large rhododendrons and azaleas that clashed with each other. Each year brought a new and sometimes major redo all the while juggling a young family, careers and travel. From removing yards of ivy to taking out trees, we’ve remastered our landscape, shaping sections of it and tinkering with others.

A few “before” shots although not way back to the beginning!

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Looking west from a vegetable bed

?The far back - subject of our last major project

The far back of the house – subject of our last major project

We went through a Japanese phase, putting in dry stream beds and a focus on sparseness and greenery.  Through the years these areas have gotten a bit out of hand and in some case the carefully placed rocks are now obscured by decidedly non-Japanese overgrowth.

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An overgrown dry stream bed area

The removal of a giant mimosa tree about five years ago gave us a new playground.  For the first time in a long time the side yard was sunny. We put in 3 additional raised vegetable beds and transformed the area as a sunny border with a pond.

Pond in progress

Pond in progress

And filling in

And filling in

Our last big project was in the back of the house, a long neglected area with much shade, sparse grass and a few lovely hydrangeas and calla lilies.  The redo moved a badly placed path and narrow border next to the house. The idea here was to create a chicken run area that could be closed off to let the chickens out  utilizing a particular planting strategy: plants would be used that could either stand up to chicken predations; be easily protected from said chickens; or that I didn’t care about so much.  This area has a few final details to complete. We haven’t quite finished off the water feature or the gate/fence that will keep the chickens corralled but it is much more pleasant.

 

Back area being transformed

Back area being transformed

All filled in

All filled in

So, about optimism.  Like most things gardening comes with no guarantees.  Yes, there are plants I can count on returning year after year but even so, a hard early freeze, disease, or an attack of aphids (or slugs) could also knock a perfectly reliable plant to the roots never to return.   This winter took out a number of dahlias, a ceanothus and a few other shrubby things that were flattened by the winter’s punctuation of wet and freeze. Our farmers face similar challenges but these affect not aesthetics but our food supply and the financial security of the farmer.  My garden problems pale in comparison. Yet farmer and gardener alike replant, water, fertilize and hope for the best. Because we don’t control nature. We have to find ways to work with it and be rewarded with the beauty (or bounty) we reap.  We have to be optimists.

 

David has been waiting patiently, optimistically for this combo for 3 years!

David has been waiting patiently, optimistically for this combo for 3 years!

I think of my garden as a bit of house dressing.  Choosing a color palette, finding color echoes, matching or contrasting textures, accessorizing.  It’s another manifestation of style.

As we move towards the official start of summer, I hope you are enjoying your bit of nature wherever you are finding it.

PS Linking up with Patti at Visible Monday http://notdeadyetstyle.com/ tomorrow.  From garden style to personal style.

 

The garden shrine

The garden shrine

 

 

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