Saturday, May 26, 2012

Is this Heaven or what?

The last few days have been devoted to that prime joy - gardening. One of the devastating parts of leaving our little tin palace on the lake in the Okanagan was that I left behind my lovely garden that I'd put three years of work into. Granted I learned something valuable there, namely that you shouldn't try to stuff one of every kind of plant that will grow in your zone into a six by 40 foot strip of gravelly soil. But it sure was fun.

Yesterday morning Kevin from Excelsior Landscaping came with a helper to set up our community garden. They assembled the garden beds and filled them with garden mix. Those should be ready for the gardeners in another few days, as soon as we have water piped into the garden. After Kevin and crew left I planted some of the plants I'd bought, and today I planted more.

We arrived here in the dead of winter and it took me ages to settle in. The trees blossomed gloriously in the spring, then the "landscaping" began to grow (or not, depending on its quantity of ambition). There is a 20 foot wide and 100 foot long walk approaching the front entryway. The third closest to the building gets only two or at most three hours of morning sun.

Serviceberries, which are a plain Jane shrub if ever one was, but which will grow in the deep shade, are planted in a 12 foot long bed to the right in the bed nearest the building. Last year these got seven feet high and just as wide, over growing the sidewalk. But the bad part was that they were absolutely, completely, covered in aphids. The aphids secreted so much sticky "honeydew" that they hung in long and snotty globs off the coagulated leaves. I've never seen such a mess. They were disgusting.

The other "landscaping" consists of half a a dozen potentillas; four yellows, a pink and a white. The yellows bloom from June to frost, the white and pinks don't bloom til mid-July. There's a single lilac which bloomed feebly, *a* rose, and a couple of wolf-willows.

All of these were rankly overgrown, so, as you have been told a dozen times, I've been pruning at every opportunity. Still haven't completely finished but I have all summer.

Aside from just plain neglect, the difficulty with this "garden", such as it was, was a lack of texture, colour, and variety of forms. I began by putting in loads of tulips, daffodils, narcissus, squalls and grape hyacinths last fall. We had a horrendously dry winter and only about 1/2 of the bulbs survived to come up, and of those only half have flowered.

The aphid infestation and the dry winter was the death knell for several shrubs. I know it isn't nice to celebrate the death of a poor hapless plant, but having those ugly things dug out out gives me a place to put healthy and beautiful plants in their place.

The list? All of these are in multiples except the bergenia and foamflower, which they only had one of to sell. So alyssums, several kinds of mint, thyme, bergenia, foamflower, lavenders, may midnight sage, salvia, hostas, geraniums, coreopsis, petunia, calibrachoa, impatiens, and lots of dusty miller. A mix of perennials and annuals to get a quick shot of colour. I also bought a big bag of poppy seeds and will seed them generously in the sunny areas and around the trees. They don't bloom long but they put on a show when they do.

Tomorrow or Monday I hope to finish putting the rest of the rest of the flowers in. Everyone coming and going as I worked today commented on how beautiful the entry garden is looking. I am pooped, but feeling so happy and content. I wasn't sure how I'd live without a garden, and here I have the biggest one I've ever had, with big husky men to do the hard work for me, and someone else footing the bills. Now is that heaven or what?


OneDay said...

Those garden boxes look amazing. I wish I had enough space to put some like those in. I hope you post some photos of the progress! Happy growing season! :)

SMM said...

I say...a huge garden. I see you are getting the Estate up to speed on what makes for a lovely external perk for all residents...and it is allows you to indulge your passion for gardening.

A totally great example of a win-win.