Saturday, December 29, 2012

Change Comes Slowly

We've lived in our "new" house for 2 years now.  Although I've devoted hundreds of hours to the garden (and managed to do serious damage to my right knee in the process), I feel as though I've barely made a dent in what I want to accomplish.  Pictures of my old garden make it look so full and established in contrast to this one.  I filled every inch of my old back yard, as you can see in the pictures below.

As we lived on a "2-on-a-lot," I had no front yard to speak of, although I managed to cram plants into the tiny area between the driveway to our house in the back and our neighbor's backyard fence. 

Of course, my old garden was very small and I spent nearly 20 years making changes to it.  When we moved into that house all there was in the back yard was sod, which we removed, with the help of my stepfather, within a year of moving in.  I added uncounted bags of compost over the years so the soil there was in great shape when we sold the house, in contrast to the soil we inherited here, much of which is clay and all of which is riddled with rocks.  After moving in I learned that the area was once the site of a rock quarry.  Every time I dig in a new area of our lot, I pull up small stones - in the spirit of using life's lemons to make lemonade, I've used the stones to cover pathways throughout my vegetable garden as shown below.

The vegetable garden looks more "done" than any other area at our "new" house but it came with 3 raised beds, 3 established citrus trees and a mature bed of Camellia sasanqua bordering the house.  It's given me my first real experience raising fruits and vegetables - our former garden was too small and shaded to grow more than the occasional basil plant.  Thus far, I've been more successful with herbs than vegetables, although I got a good crop of peppers this summer, as well as some tomatoes and lots of beans.  The broccoli shown in the picture above got huge but never produced any florets.

My dry garden, an area on the other side of the fence in the picture of the vegetable garden above, is also beginning to come together.  This area was at the bottom of my list of gardening priorities when we moved in but, one thing led to another, and I found myself tearing out the lawn bordering the area, removing huge quantities of stone as well as a thick plastic weed barrier buried several inches below the surface, and soon I began adding a plant here and a plant there.  The last owner of the property, here just over one year, had put in several trees and grape vines but most were placed too closely together and some of the varieties proved to be poor choices for the area.  I left the 2 guava trees, a persimmon tree, and one of the grapevines.  An apricot tree died suddenly during our first year in the house and I moved an artichoke into its spot.  We also moved a small cherry tree from its  place on the slope below and, against expectations, it seems to be holding its own in its new location.

I don't have a before picture of the dry garden but here's one my brother took at the end of 2011 as the garden was starting to take shape.

Here's a picture taken when I first planted the area formerly covered by sod.

Here are a couple of pictures taken earlier this Spring plus a recent one showing how the Creeping Thyme 'Pink Chintz" in the picture above has filled in.

I guess maybe I have accomplished something!  There's much more still to do, here and elsewhere in the garden, in 2013.  It's also clear that I need to work on my photography skills.

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