Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Garden at Stone's Throw

It's a beautiful day to sit on the back deck sipping Earl Grey lavender tea and posting. Gallifrey would rather be at the dog park, but he'll get to go soon enough. Got a message from a friend in Missoula the other day saying it was 8 degrees there with a double digit below zero windchill. It's 62 degrees here now and will get up to 70. It feels warmer in the sun. Great day to do a post about gardening!

In the better-late-than-never category, I put in my wildflower seeds the other day, and at the end of it all I'm not sure why I dragged my feet so much about it. True, I didn't use the lawn roller to press them into the soil, but I did mix them with a bit of sand and then liberally tossed them about. I also strewed handfuls of seedballs--blue bonnet seeds in clay balls put out by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Those were supposed to be put out anytime between September and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, New Years... So maybe I won't get as lush a bloom or maybe also as early a bloom, but surely Something will come up, and I can do better next year.

This being winter, it's the perfect time to plan next year's gardens. Over the weekend, I finished the initial design for the raised bed area of the yard which will account for about 1/3 of our property. When we moved in here, most of the yard was already done, or at least the hardscaping was in. It's true that all of the beds need to be cleaned out and replanted and everything could use use a bit of tweaking. But there was no real major design work to be done in the main yard.

Our property is odd. It's "L" shaped, or, rather, upside down "L" shaped so the short leg runs to the right on the top instead of the bottom. The house sits about 2/3 of the way down the long vertical leg. Currently there is nothing in the short leg but the well house off to the side and a large rectangular gravel patch in the middle (where there used to be a commercial greenhouse) surrounded by scrub. This is not, for the curious, where I scattered wildflower seeds yesterday. The seeds went into the only patch of lawn this property has in the very front right over the septic field.

The short leg is bounded by driveway or road on all sides: On the left is the private drive we share with two neighbors, on the top is the main street, on the right is our next-door neighbors driveway, and on the bottom is our driveway. As you can see from my sketch on the survey, the land area is about 270 feet long and 135 feet wide. My goal is to put the three beehives along the top of our property (shown on the left in the diagram because the survey is oriented to the north) screened from the private drive by ten feet of scrub, to take out everything but the live oaks, some cedar by the neighbors, the prickly pear stands, and the yucca, and to complete the gravel area with a winding path through raised beds and vertical focal points. And of course there will be a pond. The bees and other wildlife need a pond. I just hope the wildlife doesn't eat my koi.

In the raised beds will be a bee and butterfly garden, a dyer's garden, an heirloom crop garden, and an ikebana cutting garden. I'm not planning the beds to be big rectangular plots. Instead they'll be polygons that fit in between the organic meanderings of the path, and in some places they'll be layered on top of each other more a more interesting shape and even easier access.

I look forward to making a prettier and more legible plan after I've taken my drawing class! Thanks to my friend Bridget, I know I need to get ready to start planting seeds in little peat pots so I'll be ready to move them out into the garden in a month or so. Better also get the beds built...

Now off to pay bills, bring the studio books up to date and send tax info off to our accountant. Of course that all won't get done today, but I have hope for the end of the week.


Bill said...

How much will be ornamental versus edible?

Brenda Griffith said...

Well most of it will be considered ornamental, but all of it will be functional. The only veggie I really want to grow is tomatoes, but I will probably do herbs and maybe some lettuces, carrots and beets. However I have some heirloom corn and gourd seeds I'm looking forward to growing. The rest will be for bees, wildlife, ikebana, dyeing, and soapmaking.

Bill said...

How do you make your choices of breeds of the various items? On production? Speed of growth? Flavor?

Brenda Griffith said...

For flowers I mostly stick with natives or other varieties well-adapted to our area so they need minimal pampering. For tomatoes, I like cherry tomatoes, and I plant for flavor over everything. For dyeing, it's completely function so I just try them out to see if they do well here--same for the heirloom corn I wanted this year and the gourds.

Bill said...

Very wise.