Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cultivating Patience and Hope

We've lived in this house for 17 years and there are still long lists of projects we've wanted to complete and haven't, for one reason or another.  Life just seems to trip along day by day, and before you know it, you have 3 kids, a part-time job, a goldern retriever puppy, and a creative hobby, all which require time and energy, which are in limited quantities.  This summer, my DH and I have committed to making a more concerted effort on some of those projects, beginning with our yard.

I'm usually so busy keeping up with the indoor spring cleaning that I don't get out into the garden early enough in the spring.  By the time I do, things are already hopelessly overgrown and I make every effort to keep up, but it always seems to overpower me.  This year, I've been doing a little bit of work each day (mostly while I'm out with the dog), so I've managed to get a good start and stay on top of things.  We have about 3/4 of an acre of sloping land that backs onto a small lake.  It's very wooded in the back and a real challenge to keep up with the vines, weeds, and volunteer trees that come up every year.

I started with an easy project, filling these pots with flowers to brighten up this area between our window and door on the deck.

To the left of the window there's a big bare spot that has needed something for years.  I recently found this inexpensive trellis to lean agains the wall, to support a climbing vine.  I planted some morning glories in the box planters, but they don't seem to be getting enough sun in that spot.  So I dug up a couple of clematis from another location, and put them here to see how they'll do.  I need to get two more of the trellises to cover the areas on either side of this one.  I love climbing vines and the look of our deck would be much improved by some greenery.

Directly below our deck there's a steep hill.  When we moved in, it was covered with grass, but was impossible to mow.  I've been slowly replacing the grass with easy care plants like day lilies and ground-cover roses, but lately have been trying to cover the majority of the hill with English ivy.  Over the last few years, I've clipped pieces from other locations and transplanted them on the hill.  I have to balance the rate of pulling weeds with the growth of the ivy so the hill doesn't get washed away in the rain.

 It's finally starting to look like I'm making progress here, but it's slow growing.  I'm hoping that by the end of the summer, it will filled in a good deal more.  We may add a small retaining wall to border the bottom of this hill and the path down to the lower yard.

On other slopes, I've been transplanting pachysandra.  I'm looking forward to these spreading and filling in too!  It will look so much better than the weeds that constantly sprout up.

At least this second hill is beginning to really fill in.   I planted ferns here a few years ago and they are finally spreading to cover the hillside.  I love the lush look of ferns in the shade.  We may eventually put some stone steps down this hill among the ferns.

Towards one side of this hill, I recently cut down a small choke cherry tree and planted this red maple.  It can handle the shade back here and looks so much more graceful than the ugly cherry.  I'd love to put a statue or something near here, and plan to add some lily of the valley and other ground covers below.

The flattest area of the backyard currently looks like this:
We had a wooden playset for the girls here, which we've taken down, but this area has been pretty much abandoned for several years.  My DH was going to pull out the edging and turn it back into lawn, but I suggested we turn it into a shade garden.  The surface was covered with wood chips and leaves, which have decayed into a very nice top soil, so we may as well take advantage of that.  I find myself coming down here with the dog a couple of times a day, all year long, and I've been longing for a bench to sit on and a better view.  If we work together on the weekends, I hope we can make great strides towards turning this into a peaceful and lovely backyard escape.  Patience and hope:  two essential ingredients for a successful garden!

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