September 28, 2008

a beginning ..

it's a beautiful, sunny day today, and although frank and i had thought we were going for a boat ride, it turns out we're staying home to play in the yard .. i'm delighted, as i just started to rebuild the soil in the beds yesterday, and now i can continue on ..

when we first started this garden frank built three roundish stone beds under fir, arbutus and cedar trees, respectively, and filled them with topsoil wheeled barrow by barrowful from the roadside .. then, i went around after him, dug holes, filled them with topsoil amended with compost, manure and bonemeal, and then plunked plants in .. that was a year ago last spring .. now, there is about an inch or two of relatively healthy soil above a foot (or more) of dry, dusty dirt that doesn't hold a drop of moisture .. consequently, the plants are not as happy as they could be in a more moisture retentive soil .. poor guys .. so, the project is to take plants out of the beds, pot them up, turn the dust and water the bed, add the compost mix, dig that into the somewhat dampened dirt, and replant .. i am intent on creating a healthy, happy garden .. and, as my friend, phil, used to say, the state of the plants reflects the state of the soil .. i agree .. healthy soil, healthy plants ..

i feel pretty excited as this project has been on my mind awhile .. i'm just thankful that the plants have hung in there with me until now .. another thing phil used to say was it's part of the mission of a gardener to make it as easy as possible for plants to grow .. makes sense .. roots attempting to take up nutrients from a dry, dusty base, are not likely to be as strong and robust as roots moving through friable soil taking up nutrients with ease .. so here i am digging out plants, potting them up, amending the beds, and re-planting in, what i have determined, is a more healthy environment .. so, we'll see what spring brings ..

altough i have worked in many gardens over the course of my lifetime, this is the first time i have had the opportunity to garden a whole yard .. i have done pieces of yards before .. i lived in an apartment block that had a tiny piece of workable land that i planted up .. and i've lived in places where there were gardens already .. and i've worked in numerous vegetable gardens .. now, however, i come to this place, which was, essentially, a house on an empty canvas .. inch by inch, bit by bit, it is being transformed into a yard with a garden .. fill and dirt have been left in huge piles by the roadside, to be wheeled in by frank and me to fill ditches, level the unlevelled, and create garden beds .. we just keep plugging away, playing (as we like to look at it), and things change .. the lot is changing to a yard, so far with woodshed, garden shed, garden beds, and compost bins .. everything we need is here ..

after frank built the beds, my main purpose was to get plants i had been carrying around for years, out of pots and into the ground .. i had dozens of pots, of varying shapes and sizes, filled with plants from friends, from cuttings, from divisions, waiting to get planted into the ground .. so in they went, wherever i dug a place .. when i started, i hadn't really taken the time to watch the movement of light through the yard .. so 'the guys' were placed willy nilly .. i'd thought there was a lot more sun where there wasn't now, i have a bit more of a grasp on sunlight and shade .. i learn as i go .. what i've learned over this past year and a half is that there is a whole lot more shade in this yard than sun .. well, hallelujah, i say .. shade gardens are my favourite of gardens i have worked in ..

for the past thirteen years i've made my living as a maintenance gardener .. the numbers of gardens and hours in gardens have changed over the years .. at one point in time, i was working in two gardens a day .. usually seven to eight hour days .. whew! .. i now have five gardens that i look after on a weekly basis .. add to that a cafe container garden once a week, a watering job every second day, and a year in a garden while the owners are away .. keeps me out of trouble, i can tell you that! .. in my mind, my job is to keep the gardens i look after as healthy and happy as i can .. that means weeding, trimming, dividing, pruning, deadheading, watering and mulching .. so, i do have the fundamentals under my belt .. the challenge for me is taking what i've learned over the past thirteen years and applying it in my own garden .. i am delighted ..