Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's all about the plan

Blank canvas or established garden? Whatever you're facing moving forward you need a plan. Not my forte, but I'm trying! Our garden is a bit of a combination. It's been abandoned for years but has some established trees. A huge, struggling cherry defines one corner of our house. At this stage it can't yield much, but will be a perfect foil for climbing roses. Kitty corner is a large walnut, cramped by 2 planted out Christmas trees and a badly pruned apricot. The back yard has a further 4 large apricots and a weedy something or other, more bug chews than leaf last summer. Add a few knarled old grapes, a tumbling fence, badly laid front path and you get the idea. Not the prettiest yard on the block. Not the house a seasoned gardener would be likely to pick. But we fell in love with the house and the neighbourhood and what's life without a challenge?

For now the front yard has been tidied up. Heaps of yucca have been yanked, dead annuals piled in the compost. I've planted a few bulbs and eagerly watch their progress as the tulip leaves slowly unfurl and the volunteer grape hyacinths open their little bells. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, though. The space is at once limitless and constraining. Do we want grass? Can I add another plum? Should we take out the apricot? When? How? I'm taking the easy way out and waiting for my dad to come visit. He's an amazing gardener of the snap decision, dig it up and plop it in kind. Just what I and the front yard need.

The back is another matter all together. This will be vegetable heaven and it's all mapped out in my head. All winter I made lists of veggies I love, veggies I want to gorge myself on when they're in season, to pickle, to freeze, to dry. Heirloom beans and tomatoes. Tiny French gherkins for cornichons. Buttery ratte potatoes. And fruit, too. Strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb. Currants to screen the compost. It's a good thing we live near a dog park and back onto a quiet lane. The puppy arriving in a couple of weeks will be fighting for space with arugula and fennel. Hopefully raised beds will be enough to convince Beatrice that the veggies are pack leaders, too.

Despite the fact that it's been warm enough to abandon winter coats for over a month now, I'm still sitting on my hands and spades. We can still have a killing frost here well into May as unlikely as the sunshine streaming through the window might make me think. But time is good. Time to read more, order more seeds, and keep dreaming!

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A quilter from way back with a passion for all things fabric.