Thursday, March 18, 2010

Garden Thursday

New spot for the arbor. I moved it to make a bigger herb garden. Now this arbor acts as a sort of Entry Way for the vegetable garden. It is bordered on either side by golden roses: one side is a David Austin rose that I think is either Golden Celebration or Graham Thomas, and on the other side is a Westerland climber.

This is a checkered fritillaria: Fritillaria meleagris. They are just starting to bloom in earnest. When I saw the picture on the bulb package my first thought was "No WAY do these things look like this!" They were like some wonderful Alice In Wonderland chess board flower come alive but my deeply suspicious nature distrusted that picture - I've bought too many bulbs that looked incredible the first year and that first year only. Subsequent years they reverted to the sorry a$$ heritage they'd been crossed with, much to my irritation (mostly because I'd paid too much for too little and we all know how annoying that can be). But you know, these fritillarias really DO come up like this, year after year. Even better, they last for weeks and weeks, crisp and fresh the whole time. They start very very small, then oh-so-slowly creep higher and higher until you're amazed at how very tall they have suddenly grown, all the while maintaining that crazy chequerboard pattern. I've got them all over the place now, I love them so.

This is my week for transplanting. Here's the first plant I moved. It sat in a pot in my cold frame all winter, mostly because I couldn't think of anywhere to place it until it was too cold to put it in the ground. And now, with it bursting out of its pot, I was forced to. It's hardhack: Spiraea douglasii. I bought it last fall at the place where I get our fruit and vegetables. This place also has a little greenhouse section in the back and this poor plant was sitting pathetically in a cracked pot, looking old and dry. But that's not why I bought it: I bought it because it was 75% off. I can't resist nearly free plants. Plus I liked the name hardhack. My only dilemma is when I research it online: I bought a variegated version and I can't seem to match the tag on the plant with the names I find online. Time will tell if the flower is pink or not. I suspect not somehow.

My other major transplant was this pear tree. Now, I don't know where you live, but let me just say this - if you're ever in a garden centre and see a charming little pear tree sitting oh-so-prettily, with the even more charming name of Louisebonne, don't think back to your university days as a medievalist translating Chaucer, where pear trees in literature seemed to abound, oh no, do yourself a favour and get yourself over to the perennials. Busy yourself with a few blueberry bushes or some fancy hellebores or something, because pear trees are a PITA in these parts. They do this terrible blight-infested dance with the juniper bush, and everyone ends up getting rust. Very codependent. Rust, for the organic home gardener, is no fun. It involves picking off leaves and even worse: little to no fruit. There are a couple of options, though: 1) move the tree at least 100' from any junipers; 2) remove the junipers completely; 3) don't plant pear trees ever again, whilst glaring at neighbours who have thousands of feet of juniper hedges. I chose 1), although I was unable to find a single spot in my yard that was 100' from any juniper hedge, this being a juniper hedge-infested neighbourhood. I think I might have managed 55'. And here it is. According to my online sources, April is the cruellest month...I mean, April is the month when the juniper pollen is at its most potent, so if I was going to move this pear tree I'd need to have it moved by then. So I did. And here it is. In its new spot at the end of the yard. So far it looks really good: the blossoms are all breaking and nothing is drooping. Sigh. I was really looking forward to those Louisebonne pears. Apparently they are slightly pink and have none of the grainyness regular pears have. And it would have looked so atmospheric with my stuffed partridge come December...

If you've read this blog for any length of time (or if you know me IRL) you'll know that I live on a hill. The yard is big but it's also quite steep in sections. So I did like the Peruvians and terraced some areas. At first I used sod, in little half moons. This is a good solution if you have a small area and you don't mind the border being grassy. This section here, in the photo, is too large for a grassy border because I'd be constantly picking out the grass, so I had to find another edging material. I thought about cedar boards but I really wanted a solution that did not involve me buying anything. So I did the next best thing: I asked Max to give me bricks from his HO train fantasmagoria garden sculpture brick stash.
I started with the front walls and later added the side walls, with some strawberry plants added as decorative points. And a couple of stakes just in case of earthquakes. I know, I know, stakes on my brick beds will be the least of my worries if there is an earthquake.

Here's a bit of a closeup. I don't do mortar, because I have issues with total commitment, but I think these walls will endure long enough to settle firmly into place with each other.

Here's a detail shot: you can see my little pear tree down at the bottom, along with my crumbling compost bin. No rude remarks about the straightness of my walls, now...


Kim said...

Hey! Machu Picchu! Seriously, looks awesome, Sheila. I'm planning to attempt something similar for a vegetable garden on my side yard, which is one big hill.

sheila said...

HA! Not quite the shot I showed Alaina, is it? But IRL it looks quite cool. When I was writing this I was suddenly reminded of your renovations. How are they going? Will we ever see pictures?

Kim said...

Oh wow - did I never post pics of our new deck, front walk and sunroom? I'll do that today!