Monday, March 31, 2014

Redesigning the garden. Part 1.

On Halloween we moved to our “new to us” home. The house was built in 1950 of concrete blocks and sits on a 10th acre in a peaceful neighborhood.

We were smitten with the house on the first viewing, totally sucked in by the coved ceiling, fireplace and built in bookcase, not to mention a large eat in kitchen with ceramic tile counter tops and plenty of storage. The attached garage and fenced yard were added blessings and we immediately said “yes!”.

In the passing days we observed the neighborhood and saw raised beds, espaliered fruit trees, and patios in front yards so we felt we would fit in.

Spring has finally come to the northwest with rain, wind, sun, landslides and flowers. Now the time has come to get all the plants that have lived in pots for four years into the ground.

We have watched the pattern of sun and shadow to try to access the best location for sun hungry plants and have begun the planting out process.

When we left our former home, a 1950's duplex we brought with us: four blueberry plants, five currant plants, two hazelnut trees, one dwarf cherry tree, three dwarf apple trees, one bay tree, thirteen lavender plants, one comfrey plant, one grape vine, three culinary sage plants,one hydrangea, two rosemary plants,one oregano plant and two thyme plants – all in pots of various sizes. Happily, most of them made it through the winter and we are now hurrying to get them into the ground.

During an unusually dry and chilly winter there was some time for inspirational reading. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Quarter Acre Farm” by Spring Warren, “Gaia's Garden A guide to home-scale permaculture” by Toby Hemenway, and “How to Pick a Peach” By Russ Parsons and many others; keeping the public library and Amazon busy. Then, of course there are the seed catalogs. Page upon page of lovely veggies and fruits. My favorites are: Territorial Seed at, Botanical Interests at, and Raintree Nursery at, all of which offer free catalogs, newsletters, blogs and advice and are at least some what local to us.

One challenge is that our home was previously a rental for many years. Different people put things in the ground and left them. Some of this ground is needed for the previously mentioned “sun hungry”plants so we are removing and re-homing them as much as possible.

For some unknown reason we have begun with the front yard and will then move around to the back. Rhododendrons, and unidentified roses have moved to make way for blooming blueberries in a sunny area, with another “Rhody” moved from a shady bed that is home to a green, fuzzy carpet of baby lettuces. The western fence line houses the currant bushes, while on the east the bay tree, thyme and lavender cozy up to the front gate, with an unknown “table grape” in the corner and the hydrangea to the south. We are prepping a tomato bed by the front walk and in the attached, giant flower box tulips are blooming where we intend to plant peppers in the full sun.

Tomato bed


Front gate, Bay tree, lavender and thyme


Thanks to craigslist, and our Facebook friends we have acquired quite a bit of hardscaping – concrete edgers, and stepping stones, which we are placing as we go along. Luckily we have a small pickup truck and I have a patient and willing husband to help with all this.

Today we are expecting “showers” and we have two more large plants to remove, two more blueberries and nine or ten lavender plants to get into the ground. We now have enough edgers to finish lining the tomato bed and our usual workdays to contend with: teaching music, hosting open mics, managing a farmers market, completing a photo assignment, and final preparations for a concert at the “Historic Old Church” this Saturday. Busy week? Yes and it is all good.

The Historic Old Church Portland, Oregon

No comments:

Post a Comment