A few clear, sunny days earlier this week were an unexpected respite from the typical Pacific Northwest shades of depressive winter weather. That meant boots on and out the door for a whirlwind garden and yard prep. Looking at my garden in progress (the construction site that it is!) I could see just how much progress I’ve made. While it is in no way gorgeous, the improvements are remarkable. And I did them all by myself, which is more thrilling than demoralizing like it was at the time. So, buzzing around the garden, I took a bit of pride that uncovering from winter was miles easier than last year.
My big goal during the few days of sun was to clean out a remaining section of unknown shrubs – possibly a type of wild blackberry? – and prep an L-shaped area for planting a few bushes. The area is actually pretty big: one leg is 6’x3′, the other 10’x3′. In the scale of my lot, this is tiny, but this is the size of some people’s entire garden area! For me, its a tiny area in a side section of the yard, which will serve as a connector between my white garden and the burst of color in the back. The fact that I can even write that sentence is incredible. Because just a short time ago this area (and the flower bed in front) was completely overgrown with – yup, blackberries. What this spring will be a burst of white, yellow and pinks, was about 10-12′ feet high mound of blackberry briars that I hacked, whacked and tamed. You can’t imagine how exciting it is to finally see the ground and be ready to PLANT gorgeous, wanted, desired plants!
My big treat – the one big splurge – is a Pom Pom bush. I have fallen in love with the white snow ball bouquets of spring and the joyous red & purple riot it brings in fall. At our local nursery, a quite large tree is about $30 – which is a much better buy than the 5 gallon starts you could buy online for $40+. The mature bush can grow to be 12’x12′ – prefect as a privacy screen, which is much needed with my new neighbors and the lack of fence between us.
As I prepped and plotted just the right location for my big fluffy friend, I was struck with realization from last year’s gardening season. I need to find ways to make planting easier. My lessons from last year have lead to a pretty big personal resolution. My challenge for 2018: Dig the holes before buying the plants.
You might be the uber-gardener who already has this down pat. But me? Not so much. Last year I planted 222 plants (not including seeds) and did so mostly on the fly. Building a garden from scratch was an exercise in ‘flowers as muse’, or fearless gardening as I called it. Outside of my original design, I found myself falling in love with plants or finding a ridiculous sale and then needing to find the perfect place for my new bounty. Additionally, most of those 200 plants were a windfall gift, so I had to say yes to the plants and then find a place for them to live! Flowers as muse was a blast! I loved it, tbh. But the race to make sure the plants didn’t die in the pot was a bit overwhelming. A few times I did an all-day planting in order to go on vacation! Now that I’m no longer in complete start-up mode and have a good understanding of the sales cycles at my major garden centers, I doubt I’ll ever have that many plants to place.
But, as ambitious as my dreams get, who knows? Regardless, I’m making a deal with myself: I have all the prep work done, then the plant can come home with me.
So, in the next week this is on the agenda, rain or shine: In addition to the Pom Pom tree, I’m transplanting 7 lilac trees (out of 22 small volunteers that need new homes), two quince, two forsythia and a hydrangea. And the holes are dug, waiting for me. Wonderful! I love that for once, I’m ahead of the game in my garden.
What’s your #fearlessgardening plans for the week? If you are making a #GardenFromScratch I’d love to hear from you!