Progress in the Garden, ORC – week 3

This has been an interesting week in the garden. I feel like I’ve done a lot… but also not very much? I think the work I have done is a lot less backbreaking, so perhaps I’m literally feeling a difference in my body. I’m not as sore! I think its a transition time for the garden too. The early spring flowers are fading, but the summer flowers aren’t quite up yet. It’s been cool again too. I’m hoping in the next week, when we have some glorious sun and temps in the 80s, the garden will start popping again!

I started seeds for the first time this year! It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a long time and began plotting before I’d even heard of the coronavirus. My cousin Ted has a lovely greenhouse and we teamed up to start the seeds in there to get a jump start on the growing season. These seeds will be my the start of my new veggie garden. Bring on the tomatoes! My goal this summer is to have caprese salad at least 5 times a week.

But in order to plant those seeds I had to transform the landscape of my front garden first. And part of that was weeding the dreaded Creeping Thistle that has made itself at home here. Of course, this is actually the worst. I spent the better part of a week about 18″ down in the dirt pulling the plant and sifting the tiny roots from the dirt. It was exhausting work and very dirty. I got rained out on Saturday evening or I would have finished. I thought I was so close, since I’d weeded up to just about 8-10″ from my goal line.

I still ended up working for about 6 more hours of dirt sifting the next day though! Seriously so boring and back breaking. My brain was as exhausted as my body afterwards.

I mounded the remaining dirt into two small rows for the vegetables and started planting my starts and promptly ran out of room. Whomp whomp whomp. My weeding-is-over celebration was short lived. I needed to continue attacking the creeping thistle. I will do it this weekend… but I haven’t mentally been able to go back to it yet. I’m taking a break. A deserved break I think!

I made the beds for the veggies very raised I realized after I planted them. They are higher than the raspberries and I don’t really know how I feel about that. It’s done now. I know the dirt will settle in a season or two anyways, so I’m going to leave it as it. The cardboard is my weedblocker. Once it’s mulched you won’t see it, it should give me some weeding relief. I hope.

With this break from any more time in the mud, though, I decided to be productive on more satisfying projects, like sorting through the pile of stones in my driveway to begin laying the main garden path! Oh my god. Seriously the best. Combining the shapes of the stones so they fit fairly well together is fun.

I have a mix of very large, thick stones and smaller stones, and thin stones. I’ve been trying to intermingle them while maintaining a somewhat typical path width. The path will get smaller while it winds through the veggie beds, but I want that to feel like a really magical transition. While I haven’t dug any of them down into the dirt yet, getting them place preliminarily is really making the garden come to life. It was about to start storming here, so the color is a little weird in this picture, but this sight? I finished plopping down the stones just as the sun was setting and everything looked so magical, like it was just mean to be. This view made me tear up, y’all.

I’ve been working hard for 3 years now transforming the interior of Berrybrier, but the exterior as been neglected throughout most of that time. To finally be able to invest some real effort in shaping this space to my vision of the property feels so wonderful. I feel like this finally looks like home.

My ultimate goal for the garden was to make it the a space I wanted to be out in as much as possible. With Oregon summers so fleeting and Oregon winters so grey and rainy, my body and my soul need to soak up as much sunshine time as I possibly can. This path makes spending time out here seem super possible. I can’t wait to wind my way though the veggie garden picking this and that as I go and then sitting in the shade to just stare out at it all.

I’ve also been removing the irises that are done blooming for transplant. Now this was fun! And gratifying! The progress was significant, quick, and satisfying. Exactly what I needed after a week of sifting dirt. I’m planning on keeping as many irises as possible ( especially the fun color varieties!), but I want to move them around. I do think I’ll still have too many though, so I’ve been giving some to my friend Nikki and some other people have made request to have a few sent! See how dense the irises are on the right below? The whole front 3′ of the yard by the sidewalk was like that! And because they needed to be thinned so badly, many of them were not blooming. This shot was after I cleared out the space that will lead up to the new porch steps!

To mitigate the level change between the side walk and the house, I will add a couple of stone steps starting right at the sidewalk. I’m hoping to build these this week and then start the porch steps. In the mean time, I’ve been dumping package boxed over the existing porch rail to use as cardboard for my weedblocking in my sheet mulching. It’s super classy!

I’ve also started to see my dahlias and gladiolus starting to come up. Yay! Can’t wait for summer blooms throughout the space. I planted 12 of them, but I have 4 more that need to find homes. I started stressing about where the could go and decided to just wait a bit longer to place them. The garden is starting to feel FULL y’all! And all I’ve really done was move plants around…

Then, yesterday instead of working on the garden, I did something a bit crazy for someone who ran around last week unable to find spots for her remaining 4 dahlia tubers: I bought more plants. You see, my name is Laurel, and I am an addict. I am addicted to plants. I was scrolling through Facebook Marketplace and what did I find? A wholesale nursery, open to the public, for a week long blow out sale. One car full of plants? $100. I hightailed it 45mins out from Portland into the outskirts of Hillsboro and spent an hour browsing the market. I filled my car to the BRIM, y’all. It was so exciting! And look what I came home with!

These poodle arborvitae make me giggle. I love them. I love their formality that leans almost silly. I’m going to plant these to flank the front path to the porch and create a little symmetry along that path. The most unexpected purchase was a 4-in-1 espaliered apple tree. It has a graft of different apples on each arm. I am so excited!! I think it will find a home against the fence separating my garden from my neighbor to the right’s yard. So it will tuck into the blueberry hedge! I was also able to get three larger boxwoods that had been pruned to conical shapes. I am so pumped to intermingle these in the more organic areas of the cottage garden. The juxtaposition of some of the more chaotic plant growth next to the tightly-pruned, formal boxwoods will be so dynamic!

The rest of this batch of plants will be intermingled in the front yard and some may even trickle into the back garden and chicken yards. We’ll see what strikes me in the moment. I’m seriously considering making a boxwood hedge around the old overgrown herb garden in the back. I’d have to clear it out of blackberry bushes first, but it could be so amazing!

Before that, though I want to get the stones for the path dug into the ground and begin laying the stone steps that will alleviate the grade change between the main garden path and the lower side walk at the path to the front porch. Soon it will be time to go purchase all the supplies for the new porch steps too! Wish me luck. There is a whole lot to do over the next four weeks!

And don’t forget to check out some of the other ORC participants here. I am loving catching up on all their projects too!

2 thoughts on “Progress in the Garden, ORC – week 3

  1. $100 for all those plants! And an apple tree. Score! I spent $85 for a crabapple tree that was on super sale, several years ago. So really…SCORE!

    1. It was so exciting! And such an awesome opportunity to get some good filler plants and topiaries. I can’t wait to plant them in the garden!

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