gardens by daisy moore
Daisy's Own Garden:
In year 6 the garden was beginning to develop a natural and manageable shape.
It wintered very well and looked good early in the season. The brick edging had a lot to do with the tidy appearance. The boxwoods suffered the least amount of over-winter damage they ever have, likely because of their maturity. There was a slight amount of tipburn which was easily pruned off, whereas most of the plants were protected by the snow. The goldfish in the pond were growing plump and now measured about 5-6inches long. In June, the garden was part of the Elora/Salem horticultural society's annual garden tour. Finally, my neighbours had the opportunity to poke around in my backyard and see what I had been up to. They must think me to be quite mad at times!
There was a fairly major renovation project done on the house over the winter which created a lot of mess and rubbish at the back of the house. Most of it was stacked up and made ready for the annual spring burn. Most importantly, I now had a nicely gussied up the house with new "heritage green" siding and I needed to compliment it with the garden. I had visions of white, blue, purple and pink clematis climbing up the side of the house. However, I was diverted by my three major areas of concentration: (1) developing the garden by the front door which had thus far been rather a haphazard effort, (2) growing decent vegetables, and (3) really doing something with the old concrete slab affectionately known as the "eyesore".
The Front Garden
Here is a picture of the front garden as I worked it over in year six. You will see a lovely assortment of Lupins, Hosta, Sweet Woodruff, Southernwood, and a young Snowball Bush in the background.
Growing Decent Vegetables
I applied a lot of compost and rotted leaves to the vegetable garden to try and improve the soil in the raised beds. I also mixed sand into one portion of the garden in an attempt to lighten up the soil for leeks and onions. I put a fence up around the garden consisting of chicken wire attached to 2x2 stakes. I planted asparagus for a permanent feature in the garden. I planted tomatoes next to the fencing so that I could use the fence for support. Within the fenced in garden I also planted beets, squash, broad beans, coriander, spinach, basil, lettuce and nasturtium.
I was shocked at the combined determination of the resident groundhog, rabbits and voles! The groundhogs went under the fencing, the voles tunnelled underground and the rabbits went over the fencing. I battled long and hard - and lost. Even my trusty nasturtiums were devastated by flea beetles in one sitting.
I did learn that coriander does a splendid job of re-seeding itself, even when the ground is somewhat disturbed the following spring there was an ample supply of coriander in the area where I had planted it the year before. When in flower, this is a beautiful addition to the ornamental garden. I will be sure to plant some of the coriander seed in a couple of locations including the herb garden, my naturalized area which is a work in progress and an unclaimed area which is presently mown in between the first bed and the iris/lily bed.
The vegetable garden was pretty much a failure except for the swiss chard. No animals or pests seem to like it and I have been forced to acquire a taste. Lucky my family loved it too! I did succeed in growing some fabulous lovage which is an attractive plant but I find no significant culinary benefits to it whatsoever. I will rethink the vegetable garden, yet again, and pile my efforts into the compost pile.
In the fall of year six we decided to plant an orchard in part of the back forty that was yet unclaimed territory. We selected four varieties of apples, Russet, Cortland, MacIntosh and Mutsu. We also planted two cherry trees and a pear (to mate with the pear already planted which lost its mate after a rather extreme wind storm). We killed all of the existing vegetation with Round-up with the idea that next spring we would plant a new, shorter growing meadow which would be pleasant to walk through.
I took a one week of holidays in early May, specifically to spend it in the garden. This was a luxury indeed since spring is rather a hectic time for those working in the horticultural industry. Most of the week was spent on my hands an knees making the "eyesore" into a patio. The concrete had been broken up, allowing for a large quantity of raspberries and burdock to move in.
Removing these two weeds from the site was no small undertaking. The raspberries actually helped to break up the concrete since, as you pulled it out the strength of the roots would pull the stone up with it. Burdock, on the other hand, seems to have taproots which go for miles and one could easily ruin ones back if you tried to pull them up. My gardening partner was as tenacious at removing the raspberries as they were tenacious about being there. He did an excellent job removing all obstacles, piling the concrete/stone on all sides of the patio-to-be and leaving me to it.
There was an ample supply of sand in the front ditch which conveniently collects from the run-off of my neighbour's driveway. I took wheelbarrow loads of this and made a base for the patio. Some areas needed more fill than others and in these regions I used some of the rubble from the house renovations to build up the base. The area was bordered by a thick raised concrete wall and I planned on making the top of the patio level with this. The concrete pieces were misshapen and old enough that they actually look like stone.
I love making steps and pathways and patios, especially out of on-site supplies. I like to work with stone but have yet to start working with mortar. I know I will get carried away! It was a great deal of fun putting together the jigsaw puzzle which resulted in a pleasant, usable space from which the garden could be newly viewed. I only had enough time, patience, energy and stone to do about 1/2 of the area. The remaining part was used to store STUFF and still looked unsightly but was at least a smaller size.
I made steps leading away from the patio out of pieces of the original floor joists which had been replaced by newer planks. These were similar sizes to railway ties. This opened up vast new areas of garden possibilities! I took $200 cash out of the bank and made my way to my favourite nursery.
I bought a Bosnian Pine and planted it in the area just beyond the new patio. I chose this because it is a slow growing evergreen, looks like an Austrian Pine but does not get Diplodia Tip Blight. I liked the colour and I liked the shape.
I also chose Devil's Walking Stick and planted it between the new steps and the patio. I have recently conceded that yes, it is a rather hazardous choice for an area of high traffic. Just in case anyone wasn't paying attention and veers off the path, then it's a bit of a surprise. I like the Devil's Walking Stick because of its shape. It reminds me of the elm tree which used to dominate the front yard at my childhood home. It is shaped like a vase with lovely plumes which form in the late summer. Unfortunately, it is very invasive and I will need to become ruthless in keeping it in check.
I also selected a climbing honeysuckle and a honeysuckle bush which I planted on the house side of the new patio where I had made a bird feeder. This was a lovely combination. My plan was to surround the feeder with shrubs and colourful flowers for both protection and sources of food.
I purchased a flowering crab and planted this near the base of the new steps, making sure that there was an unobstructed view of the tree from the windows of the house. It has been a big disappointment. I don't know whether it is my fault or if it was just a poor speciman but it will soon be removed unless it shapes up. A French Lilac, Beauty Bush, Amelanchier and spreading Juniper were chosen and planted in a grouping in an area which I hope to convert from lawn to "naturalized assortment of lovely plants". This is still a work in progress and improves as the plants mature.
From a clematis specialist, I purchased three different varieties of clematis. They were shocked when I informed them that bindweed made a better flower than the clematis did. I strongly suspect that I will have to drastically amend the soil at the side of the house and drastically eliminate all of the invasive weeds, like creeping bellflower and bindweed from the garden in order to succeed with some exotic delights. I am dismayed that I appear to be doing everything right and yet my neighbour has an enormous and floriferous clematis which is thriving on neglect.
Unfortunately, I haven't completed my rendition of Years Seven and Eight, but you can fast-forward to Year Nine by clicking here.
"Daisy helped plan our garden so it is easy to care for, and beautiful in all seasons."
-- B.M., Toronto
For more examples of Daisy's work,
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© Daisy Moore 2006