Once again, the changing of the seasons decrees that it is high time to prepare the ground for planting. This isn’t new territory for us; I’ve made at least some sort of attempt at a garden every year since I got married, even if it was as feeble an attempt as putting a few tomatoes in buckets on the patio. Our plans for the summer, my energies levels at planting time, and the ages/usefulness of the young helpers all play a role in how elaborate the garden can be.
This is the third time we’ve built our garden up from scratch, and it’s a monument to the eternal optimism of the human spirit that we’re launching into this project with such enthusiasm. In our first house, we started small—so it would be manageable—but the deer and rabbits and squirrels usually got to it anyway. In our second house, we broadened our horizons and planted more resilient and long-term crops, including blackberries, blueberries, and rosemary plants. We moved away after just two years, but I still don’t regret the investment. Even if we can’t enjoy the fruits of our labors, someone else will.
Now here we are again, starting over from bare ground. Amazingly, in the three weeks we’ve been working on this project, I think it’s already shaping up to be our best garden yet. The slope of our yard turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it forced us to be creative with our layout. What started as a bare, sloping hillside of a ragged yard, randomly scattered over with daffodil bulbs, has been transformed into a pleasant patch of usable space, practical and pretty. The finishing touches have yet to be made—and indeed most of the garden has yet to be planted—but the potential is evident.
So far we’ve incorporated stone blocks from an unwanted flower bed, dug up raspberry shoots from a friend’s garden, and started our vegetables in makeshift containers while we wait just to make sure the last frost is past. As challenging as it was to lug the stone blocks from the front yard to the back, the planning part of this project turned out to be far more grueling than the execution.
Ideally, we very much wanted to consult a landscape architect before committing to tearing up our yard. We had some nice notions of what to do with the space, but no practical experience with a project of this scope, and we really thought we needed professional advice. We waited all winter trying to figure out what to do, and finally decided that since any fancy project was out of our budget anyway, we’d just dive in and do our best. The terraces may not end up being plumb-line perfect, but at least they’ll exist. Dithering about waiting for the perfect opportunity for things to fall into place likely meant that, by default, nothing would get done.
It’s still a work in progress. I’ll probably share more of our gardening adventures as we begin to see some more promising results. For now, we’ll keep putting seeds and shoots in the ground as we welcome the sunshine with the arrival of spring.
Photo Credit: First photo taken by George Yanakiev; second and third photos taken by Rose Focht.