In an earlier post I showed the beginning of a new front garden design. The work continues and here is the design on paper with the before pics and the concept design.
The patio will not be exactly as shown although she has chosen different hues of pink.
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The work continues on my Garden Labyrinth in my own yard as discussed in a couple of previous posts. We have now built another garden box and I have started planting the first one. I have added ever-bearing strawberries to the first box. The strawberries are later to come to fruitation. The harvest will begin late in July, about a month after the regular strawberry harvest starts. Ever-bearing strawberries will produce until late in the year. I have eaten strawberries as late as December. I planted two rows and will now plant sunflowers in the back half of the bed. The sunflowers will create a privacy back drop and will be a beautiful addition as they mature. They will be facing East so they will get plenty of morning sun. The sunflowers will also attract many bees and insects that will serve to pollinate everything I have growing in my gardens. The strawberries were a gift from one of my garden owners who wanted to divide and had lots to give away. They have weathered the winter a little worse for the wear but are already perking up. I have tested my soil and it is a well balanced soil and does not need any enrichment. The first two garden boxes built are 11.5 inches high by 4 feet wide x 8 ft long. The newest garden box is built from pine 2 x 4’s and is 16 inches high by 4 feet wide x 7 feet long. Four feet is the widest we will build them as anything wider will be hard to weed. We have reinforced each box with a brace to ensure they do not bulge from the weight of the soil inside.
I also have regular bearing strawberries that I planted underneath my Japanese ornamental cherry tree so my grandchildren will have strawberries to eat for many months.
In an earlier post, I uploaded a garden labyrinth design for my own back yard. The challenge is to create privacy and grow all of my own food this year. Each year I grow more of my own food and this year I would like to grow 100% of it organically. I have purchased all organic seed. This is important as seed that is not organic has residual chemicals which would be left in the soil. I have purchased organic soil from Milan on Brenton-Page road-250-667-1029 https://www.facebook.com/highlineenvironmental/
The first two garden boxes took 2 yards of soil to fill. Each box measures 4 foot x 8 foot and are 12 inches high. I placed them parallel along the south side of my driveway with enough space between them to get a lawn mower or a wheel barrow between them. This area of the yard is very wet due to the gray water from the laundry room being drained here, so it should be a perfect place for a growing medium. I have added bone meal and blood meal to the boxes and worked it in. I will test the soil today and see how high the nutrient level is and if anything more is required. In a few days I will plant some early vegetables. It is a busy season already so I will have to fit my garden time in after work as I did the last two nights. When buying seeds it is important to verify they are organic non-GMO seeds. West Coast seeds are offered for sale at almost every garden centre and many other retail outlets. They also offer mail order for convenience. They are high quality certified organic seeds and their website is a wealth of information on gardening.
See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂
Originally this job was supposed to be completed before Christmas. There were 300 plus bulbs that needed to be planted once the garden was built. However, Mother Nature disagreed and so the bulbs had to wait. There was also a boxwood hedge to plant along a newly installed walkway. That is if Mother Nature could ever release her icy grip!
The spring garden design was a simple one. Clean the garden area along the driveway, install garden ties, amend the soil and plant the spring bulbs. Simple right? Wrong! Previously there were coniferous trees growing on that side of the property and had been taken down long before my arrival. Their stumps were in the garden bed area and the roots were everywhere. Some had traveled underneath the paved driveway bulging the tarmac upwards. Intertwined with the tree roots grew english ivy…everywhere. I never ever thought there would be something more difficult to remove then english ivy. But I was wrong again. When I originally looked at the job last fall the ground was covered in leaves and did not give a clear picture of the labour that would be involved to beautify the area. And so the work begins. A pic axe was purchased to chop the roots out and a chain saw was used to cut the roots off at the driveway edge. The easiest part of the job was planting the boxwood hedge.
Organic soil was purchased from Milan at HighLine 250-667-1029 located on Brenton-Page Road near Ladysmith. You won’t find a better soil. Milan creates the soil himself from organic matter. The soil is well balanced with sand and rich organic compost. I added bone and blood meal, peat moss to retain moisture and triple steer manure to enhance the growing medium. However, this soil is so rich that you could just plant and grow. I amended it to minimize the work for the garden owner. She is not an avid gardener so this will allow her to have a no fuss garden for a couple years. She will not have to add anything. I planted over 300 bulbs of daffodils, tulips, narcissus and crocus’. I am looking forward to seeing this garden in full bloom this spring. stay tuned for the update in a couple of months.
Warning: If you are using a pic axe or any other equipment for digging or cutting, make sure you know if there are water lines, hydro lines, gas lines or telephone lines in the area!
The winter has been very long here and much work is needed in the gardens for spring clean up. This small front yard took 6 hours from start to finish. the yard was raked, the tree was trimmed and a new garden created along the house. The clean up included putting wood chips around the plants and along the new garden bed. The lilac bush was trimmed and the english ivy cut back also.
Front yard before
Front yard after
Last year in our community two derelict houses were being demolished so we approached the project manager on site and ask about the cedar fence. It was red cedar and was still in excellent condition after years of standing. It has weathered beautifully and I knew it would be perfect for garden projects. He happily gave us the fence if we were willing to remove it, after the homes were demolished.
After removing it, one box was built and the rest of the wood stored for future projects. The original plan was to build garden boxes and sell them. Then after the move to the new home, I realized that I was not willing to part with it. The wood is perfect for my garden plan. Working out the amount of wood required for my Garden Labyrinth, I realized I had enough wood for 10 garden boxes, not including the one already built.
My biggest concern with my Labyrinth design was what wood to use in the garden. I need something that will stand up to the elements of weather here on Vancouver Island. The red cedar is perfect. It has a life span of about 20 years. The garden boxes will be built and put in place without a bottom. In order for me to utilize the gray water in my yard, it is necessary to leave the bottom open so it can draw up the ground water.
The yard which is so overgrown is actually a blessing in disguise…a labour intensive blessing, but a blessing just the same. As I prune each shrub and tree, I will chip the waste and put it in the bottom of each box. It will draw up the moisture and it will slowly break down and enrich the soil, as well as keeping it aerated. Keep in mind it does not have to be chipped, it could actually be cut in smaller pieces by hand and added to the bottom. Wood chips will be added on top of the chipped garden waste as it will retain water and minimize the need for watering. The garden boxes will be approximately 20 inches high so each box will require approximately 10 inches of waste and wood chips before the organic soil is added. The soil will be 2 inches below the top of the box.
I have not measured the yard for exact measurements as it is still covered in snow. So I know my garden plan will have to be tweaked after measuring.
I have now lived in this location for 3 months. I have spent countless hours researching, sketching and incorporating the numerous benefits in the yard. As I said in an earlier post, privacy is my biggest concern.
The back yard gets full sun throughout the year. I know that the back lawn stays green most of the year from the gray water that feeds it daily. It was important for me to incorporate a plan that would utilize this gray water in my garden effectively and efficiently. I am on town water so it is not an option to water my gardens all year with town water, not only the cost, but with the hot dry summers on Vancouver Island the watering bans start earlier every year. Incidentally, I am a renter and my landlord has given me the green light to landscape the entire lot as I wish, so that is a bonus.
Each year I grow more of my own food and this garden should suffice in growing all of my own food. So the plan had to address the privacy issues, create beauty, utilize the gray water and produce enough food for six of us. I am including my sons and grandchildren as it is of utmost importance to me for each of us to eat as much organic food as possible, while saving money! Last year I grew about 60% of my food. I canned and froze much of what we couldn’t eat fresh and have been eating it all year long.
Privacy Issues – The fence enclosing the yard will provide a backdrop for me to plant shrubs and bushes to allow the privacy I want, but will take time to grow and cover the fence. The immediate concern was how to create a garden area throughout the back yard with fruits, vegetables and flowers that would be high enough to enclose the area for privacy.
I have always loved the idea of a labyrinth and decided this would meet all of the garden challenges. Creating a labyrinth from raised garden beds would give me the height for privacy, allow the soil in the containers to draw the gray water from the ground and filter it before it hits the plant roots, create beauty in the garden, incorporate a patio area in the middle while creating a play space for my grandchildren as they love to be in the garden with me.
And so here is my Labyrinth garden plan! I do know that is a preliminary plan. The garden plan will evolve and change as it comes to life!
The last week of weather on Vancouver Island has been brutal. First snowstorms and literally inches and inches of snow accumulating with freezing temperatures and wind. The snow here is always very very heavy when we do get snow…which is seldom. Then we were graced with warmer temperatures and rain. During this week of stormy weather mother nature provided us with beautiful silhouettes in nature. With the storms comes many many trees, shrubs and plants that now have winter damage. This beautiful tree in my yard which was stunning when the snow came, had several branches break under the weight of snow and ice.
After the storm when I realized the tree was damaged, I played a waiting game with mother nature as the branches were frozen in the snow. Now, today, I have cut the branches off with a landscape saw, giving them a clean cut at the trunk.
I will not be using wound paint or any other kind of sealant on the tree as I know it is a myth that it requires it to heal. Trees are incredibly resilient and will heal themselves if left alone. Wound paints and dressings claim to prevent rot and help trees heal from pruning wounds, but research suggests that they actually do more harm than good. When you cut off a tree limb, or the bark gets damaged, the tree never actually “heals.” Instead, it compartmentalizes the wounded area with a special type of calloused wood – like a scar – that keeps out bacteria and helps the rest of the tree recover. Wound paint can actually interfere with the trees recovery by preventing it from creating the calloused wood to compartmentalize it and can weaken the tree. Tree wounds heal from the inside out so dressing it with wound paint can actually seal in moisture causing tree rot and allowing fungus or bacteria to survive and possibly thrive. The last thing I want to do is interfere with the trees natural recovery processes…after all trees have been on this planet longer then humans and have evolved to heal themselves most of the time.