I feel like I haven’t done nearly enough photo posting about the new house yet – which I’ll rectify shortly – but the weather has been a bit overcast since our move which isn’t showing things to their best advantage. While I am really glad for the wetter weather (than predicted for June) because we now live on a drought-prone island – it’s made garden work and photos intermittent. Not to mention the fact we’re still getting sorted.
Although I told Brian when we were looking at houses that I did not want a large garden to maintain, I have to admit that I am a sucker for landscaped and food gardened homes – and on agreement that I could hire yard help when necessary, we ended up with a place that has a sizable amount of yard work. Fortunately, the garden bones are very good and it doesn’t seem to suffer from any pernicious weed infestations – plus it’s mostly native plants, and plants adapted to the PNW climate (never mind the huge palm like plant growing on the deck – that’s going to go at some point). There are a few garden boxes for veggies, and some overgrown herbs – but no food plants beyond that (save for a single young cherry tree).
As to be expected with a house on the market for a year, the gardens are all a bit neglected at this point. It’s hard when you are selling your house to put the effort in to gardening, and I expect that last summer’s drought on the island didn’t help matters either. There are several plants that have severe drought damage, including some trees on the perimeter that are completely dead – and the veggie boxes are as hard as cement (they haven’t been gardened in some time).
But mostly what’s happening is the out of control shrubbery (pictured above, and that’s after I hacked away at it yesterday). Around our deck is a thick hedge of California lilac, which all but blocks the lower part of the yard, and is interspersed with some really out of control Skimmia (lots of it), Rhodos (all drought damaged), and ferns. While the greenery is quite striking, and drought tolerant (super appropriate), it’s also a bit *much* and so I’m working away at it here and there. Like yesterday when I was working from home and took a fifteen minute break to descend into the bushes with the loppers, only to emerge, twigs in hair, with another bit of pruning complete. Or not – complete – because there’s no such thing when it comes to gardening – but done for the time being. As recommended by my friend Kyla I am trying to introduce arches between the lilacs and pathways in the skimmia so that at least the yard is reconnected (on the other side of these hedges are more neglected veggie boxes which probably got more sun at one time in their existence, and which I would like to grow greens and herbs in for now).
The nice thing about working on a garden that you didn’t build from scratch is that it’s incredibly easy to pull things out and hack them way down. Much easier than when you can remember how much this or that plant cost, or watching it grow from just a wee thing. One of the very first things Kyla and I did (mostly she did) was pull out a horrible vine plant on the front of the house that was both growing into the siding and killing everything else around it (think morning glory but with no flower and a single stalk) – a remarkably easy thing to do when you aren’t attached to having planted it, or made the choice to grow something so pernicious in the first place. On the other hand, a new garden is one in which you don’t have to repeat the mistakes of your old garden (for the record – ornamental ivies are always a bad idea, also don’t just take any old raspberry cane from anyone, and make sure you don’t buy the cheap soil from lawn boy…..). While this garden already has a lot going on, there is also a lot that can still be developed and worked on (like more food plants!)
In the meantime I am working on uncovering the many sweet spots that just need a little trimming to reveal themselves – like this sitting rock in the front yard.