Tuesday, August 10, 2010
A Year Later...from nothing to, well, something!
Well, it's hard to believe that just over a year ago we moved into our first house! The above photos show the house just before we moved in in May or early June of 2009 and then just a few days ago, in Late July 2010.
I believe we got our keys in the middle of June and after a harried few weeks of cleaning, demo and painting, moved into what resembled a labyrinthine maze of cardboard boxes more than anything else. I believe I started breaking ground on the garden around the 4th of July in 2009. It may have been the hardest I have ever worked at any garden in my whole life. The house sits on a tiny lot (50x50, instead of the typical 50x100) with very little actual yard space. The lawn on the east and north side of the house measure around 6.5' deep by approx. 30' wide...that's it! The backyard is postage-sized. I'm guessing 15 x 10...and that's taking into account the various nooks and crannies. I considered dealing with the backyard first, as it was completely desolate after being torn up to remove an old, leaking oil tank (we switched to natural gas). The removal company replaced the old, tainted soil with what they told us was nice, clean soil. It may have been clean, but soil it was not...try sand. I decided I wasn't quite up to the challenge of moving and enriching sand quite at that moment...so thought I'd begin my gardening foray at this new house by tearing up the lawn by the front entrance. My goal all along has been to remove every last bit of lawn and replace it with gardens, including the parking strips at some point in time. Well, the house sits on a fairly steep slope and this being July, the ground under the lawn was, well, very solid!
As you can see above, this is the tiniest little space in the world! I love that recently, Google maps updated the aerial shots to show just after we moved in and I started the garden. you can see the little wedge-shaped bed! This tiny little spot was the result of 2 solid days of me digging, turning over the ground and then cutting off the grass with a spade and beating the loose soild out of the grass roots. I developed an awesome case of carpal tunnel from all this repetitve activity. Later, as I did more and more of the garden, I would discover a much better way of removing the turf and tilling the soil. I now use gravity as my friend, but first digging a line with a regular shovel, then using a flat shovel to skim just under the roots of the grass, moving in segments to separate the grass from the soil. Then, I cut it again with the spade and roll the turf up, like sod in reverse. I can now remove a 32' segment (4' deep x 8' wide) in just under an hour. I think at first I didn't really have a plan or overall design for the garden, I was just so excited to have a garden again that I went around the nursery, grabbing plants I've always wanted to grow and plants I've grown in previous gardens and had been missing. Needless to say, this resulted in a somewhat haphazard look, one which I've been refining since then :-)
In the first pic above, you can see the garden later that same year, in September of 2009 as the garden had started to fill in. I had already moved a few things around as I continued to get a feel for the different light conditions around the garden. I have also added a few more plants here, extending the garden by about 8-10' or so. The next 2 photos are from this spring. One thing I've learned is that I MUST plant more spring bulbs, the garden is pretty sad and barren in February and March. I've already decided on a few tulip mixes from High Country Gardens (the Plum Pudding and Pretty in Pink collections) as well as transplanting some of the bearded irises from around the back of the house. In addition, I'm going to plant a lot more of the drumstick alliums around existing plants. Over the past year, I've planned, designed, planted, and re-designed various parts of the garden. It's still a work in progress, but I wouldn't have it any other way!