Monday, May 23, 2011

Gardening Posts. A Victoria Day Tradition.

It took me a while to enjoy gardening.

We moved into this house in January, 2003. We'd toured and purchased the house in autumn, then waited three months before moving in because there were tenants in place. As the snow melted that spring, we were shocked at the number of flower beds scattered about the front lawn, backyard and side lawn. There were 18 beds, 16 were crammed full of perennials. There was one annual bed, and one vegetable patch.

I was pregnant that summer, and I didn't do much in the garden except play a few rounds of "is this a weed or is this a perennial?" with Mr Wrath. My sister-in-law -- who is an avid gardener -- was amazed by the variety. She said there were thousands and thousands of dollars worth of perennials in the yard. This only heightened my paralysis, and I worried about throwing out valuable plants. Valuable plants, I didn't much care for. But still: valuable.

The next summer -- no longer pregnant (on account of my not being an elephant) -- I went through the beds and removed any plant that was listed on the British Columbia's site for noxious or nuisance weeds. Then I began taking out low growing cedar shrubs and rose bushes. I fuckin' hate rose bushes. They're ugly 10 months of the year, a pain to weed around, and god help you if you back into them while wearing shorts. I took out 6 beds, chucking the quarry stone over the fence to our neighbour L. who was building a rubble retaining wall. We turned about 20 linear meters of flower beds back into lawn.

The third summer saw me remove three of the flower beds at the front of the house. These were various scruffy looking shrubs (god damn rose bushes, AGAIN!), and hearty perennials surrounded by landscaping fabric covered by crushed gravel. Landscaping fabric is a scam, by the way. It might look good for a year or two, but when it starts breaking down, removing or replacing it is hard work.

For the fourth summer I continued dismantling beds. The front fence was lined by 8 meters of a two tiered rock garden. I took out the top layer, filling the truck repeatedly with edging rock (L.'s wall was done by this point) and soil and various noxious weeds (KNAPWEED! So many different kinds of KNAPWEED!) plus perrenials I didn't like (peonies, shasta daisies, and mutantly large poppy plants). I kept only the plants I liked: hostas, tiger lilies, rose root, stonecrop and irises. They stay green till the first snow fall and survive with minimal pruning.

I kept on top of the gardening for the next few years and began to enjoy it. I had only three beds. We began to mix in a few vegetables and annuals with our perennials. I became adept at keeping our rock edged gardens presentable. I was a whiz with the garden claw and a bag of bone meal. Two years ago -- to the horror of my husband -- I added a flower bed to the front of the house. Then I gutted the primary flower bed, and turned it into a vegetable garden. I enjoy gardening even more if I get to eat the fruits of my labour.

Last year husband dismantled our old shed, and built a deck. I seized the opportunity to add a 2 meter square patch just for herbs.

Yes, I've got the gardening bug.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and I spent a few hours cleaning out the main vegetable bed. Today I took advantage of the rain to map out the gardens:

For most of the beds, this is just about noting where I relocated plants in the autumn when I did some trench composting. With the vegetables, I try not to plant the same crop in the same place every year. I hope to have everything planted this week (all from seed, since transplanted specimens never survive here), just in time for the plants to go crazy as the days lengthen through June.


  1. Oooh, I love gardening. Every year I think my garden is looking well and then I visit my in-laws in the Okanagan, as I did this weekend. Hoo boy. I have some massive garden envy.

  2. We picked out and purchased our house in upstate (really, south Canada would be more accuate) New York in Februray, so everything outdoors was buried under several feet of snow (like I'm sure you know). It was exciting when we moved out there in May and saw that there was indeed nice large grassey areas where one might think there should be large grassey areas. And a couple flower beds out front. Which I never weeded the entire time we lived there. The first summer I was pregnant (amazing concept, I know) and then the second summer I was holding a small baby the whole time. And I just don't care enough about plants.... any plants..... if it grows and doesn't have horrible prickles, it can stay. Plus I'm SURE I'd be pulling out the perennials and leaving the weeds.

  3. Now, I am tired. READING about gardening exhausts me.

    You are going to post pictures of everything when it is blooming, aren't you?

  4. i'm not a gardening fan. i plant rocks. ;-p

  5. I look like I was in a fight with a cat this weekend. I like roses...but dammit you are right about backing into them. I dared to prune the trees near said bushes and my arms/legs paid for it.

    The only thing that really caught my eye here. Peonies? One of my very favorites. I've got my first three blooms in a vase this very morning.

    I've got the bug too. Will be posting on it soon. :-) Once your rain has stopped and things are get some pictures up! (Does bossy work for you? I can say please if you'd like). Also, tell me about growing herbs from seed. I bought some seed and then second guessed myself. Spacing and thinning and weeding. I'm intimidated.

    [Not sure why Blogger won't let me log in and comment this morning. Annoying. Any way, this is Melanie, aka Omaha Mama]

  6. Wow! You're super organized. I tend to plant randomly hither-thither and hope for the best. This doesn't always work out that well. I should follow your lead. I bet your garden looks great.

  7. I'm not a great gardener. I go on the blind faith approach, with mixed results. I have to play the "is this a weed?" game with my husband too. I try to educate myself, but nothing sticks (much like history and geography - don't ever ask me about the American Civil War or where Brazil is in relation to Outer Mongolia). I love my herb garden, though.