I can’t help it, each spring I get so excited about gardening. I make giant, insane plans, buy (and plant) a ton of plants, and then reality intrudes.
It’s a BIG yard.
And it gets really hot here in the summer.
And I have some significant pain issues with my body thanks to injuries decades ago.
So there are my plans, and then there is reality – and I get to try and figure out how to balance it all.
Last Weekend – Brush and Cleanup
Japanese hops will be the death of us. I hate it, absolutely detest it, and whoever planted it here originally needs to be strung up. It is so invasive and at the end of it all, you can’t even use the hops!
I told Dave that this year we really need to stay on top of it and dig it out wherever we see it growing. If we don’t, it’s going to keep spreading. Awful, awful stuff.
We burned quite a bit of it and some wood. We have quite a bit to go. As we worked, it began to snow, eventually increasing in intensity and forcing us to retreat inside. We sat and watched the big, fat flakes cover the ground and smother our fire. I really hope that was the last gasp of winter.
Shovel In Hand – Getting the Roses Into the Ground
Yesterday, after the package from Fedco sitting on our front porch for a week, I asked Dave to help me with some planting. And thank goodness he was willing because it wasn’t a single tree in that box, it was FIFTEEN rosebushes and one lilac.
Plus I had three more old-fashioned shrub roses and three clematis plants I needed to plant.
While Dave took the box to the back of the property and began unpackaging it all, I dug holes and planted the three clematis. One plant planted close to the base of the big columns and gently guided into the lattice work.
Imagine each of these columns with clematis vines wrapped around them and beautiful large flowers blooming each year.
After that was done, I grabbed the three shrub roses I had purchased at Aldi’s and headed for the back fence.
I dug the holes every three feet or so and Dave planted the roses. We planted five Rosa Rugosa (the shrub roses) and one each of Maiden’s Blush, Maxima, Plena Cinnamon, Alain Blanchard, Dart’s Dash, and Linda Campbell. The rest were unknown varieties and apparently extra plants for free. All roses.
It’s pretty hard to see, and obviously, they are bare root at this time but give them a few months and I’ll bet they will turn into show-stoppers!
If I remember right, I chose varieties that would grow tall and be extra thorny. Because fences don’t always stop the determined, and I figure getting scratched all to hell by a pretty rosebush WILL. On the other side of the fence, I have planted plenty of raspberries and closely spaced some elderberry starts for maximum effect in creating a plant barrier as well as the wooden one.
I would love to fill the spaces in between and up onto the fence with Sweet Autumn, a hardy quick growing clematis and then add sedum as a nice ground cover that would prevent the need for mowing around the rose bushes.
Lastly we planted a Sensation Lilac near the west side of the house.
I have some lily bulbs as well that I need to plant soon. I doubt they will bloom this year since I’m so late in planting them.
And don’t get me started on all of the seeds I ordered.
Fences Make Good Neighbors
Since we moved here five years ago I’ve been desperate for a fence. But there were other expenses and a lot of yard to fence in. Recently, while visiting a client of mine in Columbus Park, I noticed some guys building a really cool fence around my client’s parking lot.
The metal panels are the remnants of from a die-cut shape, normally sold to a metal scrapyard, the guys installing this fence bought each 6×10 foot panel for just $25.
It is a pretty sizable parking lot and my client told me she paid $3,000 to have it all done, including a swinging gate and a smaller walk-through gate.
SIGN ME UP!
My plan is to do this in two parts.
Part #1 – We have a couple of holes along the back fenceline that will need to be jackhammered out. The remnants of a concrete foundation for a garage that is long gone, stood in the way of our finishing the fence last year (well, that and weather and finances and stick-to-it-ness).
We had the guys take a look at the back fence and asked them to create two large gates with these metal panels, along with jackhammering out the three holes that will need to be dug.
We will then step in and finish the rest of the back fence, which is currently about 3/4 done if you don’t count the gated sections.
Part #2 – Next year we will obtain an exception from the City ($168 and an application for a fence variance) and have the guys build a fence across the entire front swath of our property – from the side of Cottage East, past the front of our house, and the side lots all the way to the far edge of Cottage West.
It will include walk-through gates at Cottage East, the side lot between the Cottage East and our house, one for the front walk of our house, and one in front of Cottage West, along with a wide gate in the lot right next to Cottage West. Eventually, I would like to pave the lot next to Cottage West, possibly all the way, north to south between 10th Street and the alley.
A nice, tall fence. No more weirdos traipsing through our yard and depositing presents (yes, I have found human feces before), no one letting their dogs amend my soil (this chick from the apartment complex did it for MONTHS before I caught her and asked her to stop), and it will cut down on trespassing, theft, garbage, and give our dogs an opportunity to occasionally venture forth into the bigger part of the yard.
Heck, I’m hoping to eventually re-do the dog fence – goodness knows it desperately needs to be re-done.
What I Would Like to Do
If I had all the time in the world and endless energy and a pain-free body and cooperative weather, I would like to do the following in the yard this year…
- Clear ALL of the stumps and brush out of our property – This will require burning the smaller stuff, breaking up the larger stuff, and the use of a truck. That last one, the use of a truck, is the problem. We hope to buy a truck soon, just a beater truck that could handle infrequent trips to the dump or to the brush recycling place. I can hope it will happen this year, but honestly, I doubt it will.
- Clean up yard and dispose of random stuff lying about.
- Establish a food garden again after two years of neglect – plant tomatoes, kale, and green beans – mulch heavily so I don’t have to weed it
- Transplant more of the perennial spring blooming white-flowered plants from the lot east of Cottage West to different parts of the yard.
- Brick walkways – Finish the brick circle walkway around the large maple tree in front. Re-do the brick walkway along the west side of our house. It needs to be pulled up, the grass and plants between the bricks pulled out, weed block laid down, and then the bricks re-laid. This would also include digging up all of the brick I have attempted to lay down to define the crop garden (now two years of lying fallow) and re-creating a smaller, more manageable crop garden
- Digging up all of the mint and lemon balm from the greenways and transplanting them to several areas:
- The east side of Cottage West. I want the weeds growing there to be completely choked out by the mint.
- The bases of all of the fruit trees. This will control the weeds and we will keep the mint in check with the mower
- The west wall of our house (keeps out ants and deters mice)
- Taking it section by section, fill the greenways with daylilies. So full that nothing else can grow!
- Transplant all of the newly spreading elderberry to line the alley side of the back fence (I transplanted sixteen of them today to the far side (alley side) of the back fence).
- Eradicate all Japanese hops forever from my yard (a girl can hope!).
- Dig out the future pond and line it with pond liner with the hopes of installing a pond pump, plants and fish next year
- Get all weeds under control and out of our yard (yeah, fat chance of that)
- Plant sedum seeds (all kinds, all colors) in several areas:
- The sloped edge of the backyard in Cottage West so we don’t have to mow and for erosion control
- The front yard of Cottage West and in the raised tree stump planter
- The west side of the front yard of Cottage East and on each side of the walkway of our side lot and the base of the maple tree
- The west side of our house (it’s a pain to mow)
What Is Realistic (and More Likely to Happen)
So, let’s be real. That list above, is not going to happen. What’s more likely is this…
- Move most of the mint and as I do, replace with daylilies
- Finish the back fence come hell or high water (and probably both if I know my luck)
- Finish brick circle around maple tree, pull up overgrown sections of brick, and hopefully re-lay that one long walkway.
- Plant a ton of seeds
- Swear and cry while hacking away at, digging up and burning those awful Japanese hop plants. Give up in heat of summer and watch as they take over hundreds of square feet. Burn property to the ground in response.
- Speaking of burning. Burn as much of the firewood and brush as possible while dually pissing off Asshat and the KCFD. I’m having a campfire and roasting hot dogs, I swear!
- Clean up the random crap in our yard and ignore my grass-loving neighbor’s looks of disapproval
- Maybe manage a small garden. If I’m really, really lucky and the moon is in the correct lunar phase and I’m not struck by lightning, hives or a thrown-out back (last is highly likely).
- Make weekly visits to the chiropractor and endure his disparaging commentary on how badly I treat my body.
- Allow the future pond to grow even further into a morass of weeds and mini-trees because damned if there is time for digging.
- Retreat indoors, muttering curses, and huddle next to the window a/c wishing, yet again, that I would stop taking on these renovation projects and focus on my own comfort for once and get central air installed (got $6k to loan me?).
- In a panic, while faced with piles of seeds I ordered and can no longer remember what the plan for them was, begin tossing seeds randomly in the air while cry/screaming lyrics from random songs.
- Be hit with the writing muse (after months of NOTHING) and spend the rest of the summer writing instead of gardening. Hence more weeds and an over-abundance of nasty looks from the grass-loving neighbor.
Yep, this year is going to be GREAT!!!
A Final Twist
After a nearly seven-month-long process, we have been approved as foster parents. And now the wait begins.
We are hoping for a newborn to under two, and if reunification with the bio-family is not an option, then we hope to adopt.
We aren’t heroes. The foster parent heroes are the ones who wade in and reach out to teenagers, combative tweens, and children who have been through the emotional wringer. I wouldn’t know where to begin with a child who was older, one who had seen or experienced trauma.
I know how to love and nurture, though. And I know what we can give – stability, love, and good home to a little one who might not have it otherwise. We have a lot of love to give here.
So all of my plans for the garden may be turned on their ear in the next few weeks. We will see. Birthing a baby versus fostering/adopting one is both harder and easier. I won’t be worn out from giving birth, but with my girls, I could just breastfeed. Instead, I’ll be up at odd hours making bottles, burping, and dealing with a child who might have other issues. After all, these kiddos don’t come into care unless there is a good reason.
So my schedule, both working, home and garden, are unknown. I remember that the year Em was born our garden grew wild and unkempt. There was no energy left for it, none at all!
Fingers crossed, the yard will survive.