Over the last few years I’ve been transforming our small suburban lot from the relaxing, tranquil garden area (that I spent years of back-breaking labor developing) into a food-producing space. I’ve torn out quite a bit during the conversion and have no regrets…it’s still beautiful, just in a different way…but some old photos recently turned up and I thought I’d throw them up here as a kind of memorial to the past.
I give you: The Ghosts of Garden Past
Below: Rustic trellis built from old fence posts hauled down from the cabin in Stanley, and pruned water sprouts from a vining maple tree. Today it supports an espaliered pear tree while the hosta bed behind is a vegetable patch.
Below: Another trellis (at the end of the walkway) built from old fence posts. This one now supports a grape vine which isn’t doing very well because the black elderberry shrub just to the left of it morphed into a black elderberry tree, shading said grape vine into a powdery mildew, non-producing, struggling state of sub-survival. I love it anyway god help me and can’t bring myself to put it out of its misery. I don’t know why.
And again, below (I think you probably get it by now): Mint and oregano bed in the lower left hand corner. (I know, I know…they shouldn’t be together. But I never told them so they’re not prejudiced or anything.) Daylilies just beyond them removed to make room for more herbs. Same hosta bed-now-vegetable patch to the right. Same trellis. (It’ll show up a few more times because a suburban lot is just that small, no matter how tricky your photographic angles.)
Pathway with trial of assorted ground covers…I planted three different kinds then waited to see which would grow most successfully in this spot. In a contest between corsican mint, elfin thyme, and speedwell, the weeds eventually won (as any non-anal grower of ground covers…i.e. none…could have told me.) Pathway is now pea gravel.
Let’s play “where’s that trellis?” Daylilies on the far side also removed to make room for rhubarb and currants. Garden shed to the right.
Herb bed with lemon balm and yarrow. (I’ve never had to sow seed for either of these herbs again. Quite the opposite in fact. I now have an enjoyable spring/summer/fall pastime called weeding the f—–g lemon balm and yarrow sprouts that come up everywhere, every year.) This bed now contains zucchini and tomato.
Garden shed again and twin compost pins tucked away in the back. There are two big, furtive locust trees–out of the picture to the left, on the other side of the fence just behind the compost–who think that we’re just the greatest neighbors since sliced bread. They are to the compost what the squirrels are to the fruit trees. It’s a relentless battle to keep their sneaky roots from completely taking over inside the bins.
A young, slender trunk-ed, western catalpa tree (the one in the middle with the big elephant-ear type leaves) planted from seed that I stole from a tree in the downtown arboretum. Why? Because nurseries around here don’t sell these young trees anymore. In spite of the fact that they were immensely popular with the Victorian set at the turn of the last century because of their dramatic leaves, stunning early-summer display of unbelievably fragrant white blossoms, and fascinating, rattling, foot-long seed pods, nowadays they’re considered messy. God forbid a tree should ever drop anything on the ground. (BTW, did you notice one of the aforementioned big locust trees trying to hide just behind it? They’re always doing that.)
The lamb’s ears in the container (bottom left) is now lemon thyme, the golden juniper just above it is now a lavender shrub. But somehow I can’t bring myself to cut out the bigger golden juniper on the right, even though it currently occupies some of the best growing real estate on the property. It’s like an old, quiet, pleasant, low-maintenance tenant that’s been there forever in a rent-controlled apartment building. I don’t have the heart to kick it out…so will just have to wait until it dies before I can move somebody else in. Sigh.
And one last time, “where’s the trellis?”
This spot next to the front door hasn’t actually changed but I love it so much I’m sticking the photo in here anyway.
One of the two patches of grass left on the property that the hubster has somehow managed to protect from me. (So far. It’s still on the endangered list.)
And lastly a perennial flower bed next to the driveway, which is slated for mowing so I can slap up a bean trellis instead.
Thanks for joining me on this walk down memory lane!
copyright Dia Osborn 2011
Beautiful Dia…thanks for sharing. I’ve been trying to nurture nettles, yarrow, comfrey, lemon balm etc. for medicine (tinctures, tea infusions…) We had beautiful prennial gardens when we moved in and slowly I’ve made them more practical to my needs. Seems like a trend.
Always inspired by those who manage to weed their gardens in such a maticulous way. Mine look more like English gardens at the moment.
Hey Lore! Yeah, I think you’re right, there seems to be a big trend right now towards producing more of our own food and medicines. And btw, the photos are from three or four years ago. The garden doesn’t look anywhere near that neat anymore!
What a massively beautiful retreat you have created! The amount of labor involved boggles my mind. I’m glad it is a labor of love for you. And that you find peace in gardening and nurturing things is no surprise. That describes you to a T!
Me…have 2 black thumbs and HATE yard work. Plants mystify me. That’s probably a description of me, as well! Yikes.
Nah…I think you’ve just bonded with wild vegetation rather than domesticated greenery. Just think about how you feel when it’s been too long since you went backpacking up in the mountains, under the pines. You understand the plants out there in your BONES!
Been on the road for two weeks and much has come into bloom since I left. I always forget how beautiful the landscape is…and every spring into summer is a new “suprise”. This really is art. Great work Sweetheart.
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Incredible!!! I cannot describe the feeling of euphoria I felt while scrolling through your pictures. Thank you for posting them.
Hey Kathleen! It was beautiful once upon a time, wasn’t it? The Sanctuary. Now, The Farm (but still my sanctuary.) Thanks for stopping by!