Friday, November 14, 2008

2005: A Garden Odyssey

As I was cleaning up in Max's Garden, I brushed the leaves away from the small cement block that has "2005" imprinted in it. The block is next to the arbor entrance and I made it two years ago to commemorate the birth of what is the largest single garden here at Our Little Acre.

It was in 2005 that I was bitten by the gardening bug - specifically at the Cleveland Botanical Garden Flower Show that spring. The flower beds near the house definitely benefited from my new obsession and I soon ran out of room for the plants that followed me home from the garden centers.
Just a few years prior, we had let part of the vegetable garden at the back of the property grow back to grass, after not planting it to its capacity for several years in a row. But now that I really enjoyed gardening and was taking it to the next level, I wanted my garden back - and then some.

August 2004

Look how small that garden is!

Though it would have been helpful if I'd decided to create this new garden space a little earlier in the season, late is better than later, and it was only October. Romie tried to talk me into waiting until spring, but I would have none of that nonsense. If we worked quickly, we could get rid of a lot of grass, work the soil, and get a few things planted before winter. That would give us just that much more lead time on having a garden that actually looked like a garden the next year.

So we pondered how best to rid the area of grass. I wanted to skim the sod off the top and then till it. Romie said that would be too much work. He wanted to put Round-Up on it and wait for it
to die. I said there wasn't enough time to wait for that to happen. We compromised by putting Round-Up on it and then tilling it immediately after.

This meant we ended up spending three days of raking the grass out of the newly-worked ground, because I didn't want to take a chance of having grass coming up all over my new garden next spring. Luckily, the fall weather held until we got it all ready to go and we got a few things planted.

Max's Garden - Newly created, with leaf mulch spread for winter.
November 4, 2005

Start to finish, it took us about two weeks to get the grass removed and the soil tilled up. Now, three years later, it's as if it has always been here. In fact, we worked with such fervor in the spring and summer of that next year (2006), that it was hard to believe the garden had only just completed its first growing season.
No doubt the fact that we had nearly an ideal summer that year worked in our favor, because if it had been 2007 or 2008, the drought conditions would not have allowed so many plants to become so quickly established. Timing is everything!

Last year, I decided I didn't like how Max's Garden was so separated from the rest of the yard where we spent most of our time. From the house to the patio to the pool - each flowed into the other. Then there was a large expanse of lawn perfect for playing softball (which is just what was done there when the girls were on teams all those years), that you had to traverse before reaching Max's Garden and the vegetable garden.

During winter, we have plenty of time to dream and plan what changes we might want to make with the gardens. While watching the snow swirl about out my window, I came up with a plan to make the transition to Max's Garden a little more inviting. When spring came, I set that plan in motion.

I grabbed a can of spray paint and roughed out the areas I wanted worked up. To the left and right I placed abstract triangular areas, with a grassy path leading to the arbored entrance to Max's Garden. Unlike the rest of the garden, I wanted these areas to be sparsely planted with specimen shrubs and unique plants with dark mulch to set them off.

The opportunity to test a Troy-Bilt tiller couldn't have come at a better time. Our tiller was over thirty years old and just couldn't cut it anymore. But the Troy-Bilt made short work of things and soon the new garden area was done and planted, with such things as a group of three Red-Twig Dogwoods (Cornus sericea 'Cardinal'), Lilac 'Sensation', Amsonia hubrichtii, Yucca 'Colorguard', Juncus inflexus 'Afro', Agapanthus, and Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice').

Because the trees in and around the gardens here at the back of the property are becoming larger and providing more and more shade as time goes on, the sunny part of the garden is shrinking. This past summer we expanded the east and west borders of the vegetable garden by about two feet each so that we had enough room to plant the edibles. I can foresee the need to do this again in another couple of years if we want to grow the same things we have grown in recent years.

It only took me a couple of years to figure out for myself that a garden is never truly "done." Even if the size of the garden stays the same, what we grow there changes all the time. We embrace the tried and true, yet the novel and new beckons. Gardening may tire us out, but we will never grow tired of gardening.


Sky said...

wow - hard work over the years, and it has paid off! beautiful gardens you have. i laughed when my hubby indicated once that soon we would be finished with the gardens. this was when we were creating them in 2004/5 in space once filled with poor soil and rocks. boy, was that hard work! now we are transplanting plants which have grown too large for their space, dividing day lilies and bearded irises, and rearranging the positions of other plants/shrubs! it is never done, this business called gardening, but what glorious work it is!

IBOY said...

You're like my wife Liz; when I see her standing around, looking with a faraway look in her eyes, I know to run for the hills!
Beautiful job on the garden, though.


Anonymous said...

You sure inspired me. I have so much to get done. It looks beautiful and well worth that effort. I like your crisp edges and attention to how the garden flows. I can tell you work hard at the cottage look. It's not so easy is it?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your garden is just wonderful Kylee. I love grass paths and yours looks great. You had a blank canvas there in the back garden. You painted a lovely picture. I think that knowing that the garden is never finished is what keeps us gardeners going.

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

I am so glad you spent the time chronicling this and sharing it with us! It is inspirational, to say the least. It is truly amazing how much things get settled in over only 3 years. Your willow is proof of that.

And you're right... a garden is never truly "done". :)


Jordan said...

Wow, it looks great! I stumbled upon your blog on blotanical and read this post and I enjoy it a lot. I will surely have look at your previous posts! Keep up the great work!

Unknown said...

Wow, what a great transformation, Kylee! Your garden looks wonderful... and I'm so glad that you shared its evolution on your blog with the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

What a nice post, Kylee. Your garden is lovely, and you are so right about a garden never being done---and that's the fun of it.

Brenda Pruitt said...

You have such beautiful scenic yard and gardens! You are so lucky to be able to stand out there and look all around you at such...serenity! Looks like a painting.

Kylee Baumle said...

Sky ~ I had to laugh when I read your comment, because the same thing happens here. Romie keeps thinking we're done, and to him that means no more plants, no more mulch, and certainly no more digging up grass. LOL.

We don't have rocks like you do, but we do have some nasty soil - heavy clay. We had some good stuff brought in that first spring and we mixed that in before we started planting anything else. It still has a pretty high clay content, but nothing as awful as it was before we amended it.

I've had to divide and move some things already too. Amazing how that happens so quickly!

Don ~ You guys are too funny! Doesn't it make you feel needed and a part of things, though? ;-)

Anna ~ Thank you, but honestly, I didn't try to make it a cottage garden. I'm not sure what I was doing when I started! I just had a few simple principles in my head and the rest was trial and error. When it's the middle of July and things are lush and green and a million other colors, it just makes me happy to look upon it.

Lisa ~ Yes Lisa, it was a blank canvas and it scared me to death! I knew I wanted paths and that was about it. I accepted any and all donations to my cause, whether it was stuff I liked or not. I didn't know much about anything when I started out but I learned along the way!

Cindy ~ I can't believe how quickly that willow has grown! And did you notice the small maple? It's really big now, too! I'm so glad we took photos of the area before we started.

Jordan ~ Welcome to Our Little Acre and thanks for faving my blog on Blotanical! I hope you enjoy yourself here! :-)

Kim ~ Thanks, Kim! I can't believe I just delved right in, not really knowing what I was doing! LOL!

Pam ~ You're right! I don't think gardeners ever get bored!

Kylee Baumle said...

Thank you, Brenda! We have lived here for over 30 years and I wish I'd gotten into gardening much earlier. But I feel fortunate to have so much space with which to work. It is quite peaceful here, which just makes spending time in the garden all that much better!

joey said...

Indeed Kylee, a garden is never done and I think perhaps why all gardeners pray for 'one more spring'. So enjoyed viewing the evolution of your dream come true.

Kylee Baumle said...

Hi Joey! Yes, there's always one more plant to try, one more part of the garden to change... There are always a few failures, but there are many more successes that spur us on!

Anonymous said...

Kylee, what a transformation in just three years! You wouldn't think it was the same property! Kudos...your property is lovely.

Anonymous said...

The last photo shows such a pretty veg garden - after all that hard work. Congratulations

Diana said...

OMG Kylee - what a beautiful garden and how wonderful to see it come to fruition. You've done an amazing job creating an oasis. I'm inspired by your work and creativity.

Cosmo said...

Hi, Kylee--I'm obviously way behind on my reading (as usual)--what a great post on your first garden--and what a lovely garden! Who's Max?

Benjamin Vogt said...

This is sorta how I've tackled my garden--with fervor thinking ahead that the more you do, the better things will look next year. And if you just do this, then this. Oh and this. And what about this.... Know what I like the most? THE WILLOW! Awesome trees!

Kerri said...

Kylee, how interesting to hear your garden story and see the transformation. I'm happy to see the larger view too, as I've often wondered what your garden looks like as a whole.
You and Romie have done a wonderful job.
Now I know how you fit so many plants in. You have a lovely, large space!

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