Thursday, April 7, 2016

Back Yard Beautification

I try to remind myself of the nearly ten years it took to get my old garden, in a small suburban yard, to achieve the complicated arrangement of flower beds, shrubs, trees, and garden spots that I so enjoyed.  Each little spot that became something, started out as plain old grass.  Just for the fun of it, I transformed it into something that kept me entertained and in motion in all seasons.   When I look at the back yard of the little farm house through my green tinted gardening glasses, I see another slate of grass waiting to be shaped and pruned into something different.  Something the gardener in me can love.  

When we could only come to the farm for long work days and weekend get aways, I managed to avoid some of the hard manual labor of the house renovation by taking time to transplant some perennials or plant fruit trees.  I smothered some grass, and took a stab at planting various herbs and flowers.  But I never really took the time to make these little spots presentable, or defined.  Weeds were left un-managed.  Now I'm finally getting a chance to reclaim some of the perennial plantings into established flower beds.  Weeds, be ware!

Of course, with the chickens busy scratching like this, a weed, or a flower, doesn't stand a chance!  

Now that the mud that plagued me all winter is dry, it's easy to see where our feet travel the most during our daily excursions around the farm.  In these trails (called "desire lines" in one of the permaculture design books I received as a Christmas gift), the grass has been smooshed and the soil compacted.  I desire flowers to admire along all my desire lines!  One of our most used trails is the short path to the hot tub, which is located next to the little building over the root cellar.  The old cedar post attached the building is the perfect place for a clematis vine, right? 

Since I do all my shopping at Tractor Supply these days when I go for chicken food, I couldn't resist buying a purple clematis like the one that grew on the post in my old garden.  The poor thing was desperate to get out of the little pot it was planted in, and it's roots were wrapped tightly.   Welcome to your new home!  Please grow.

Having all these chickens is particularly challenging for planting flowers.  Not that the chickens want to eat the flowers, but they really enjoy scratching in any dirt that's been loosened by planting or weeding.  For the bed nearest the hot tub, I'm experimenting with using rocks placed around the plants to keep the chickens from getting crazy with the scratching.  A friend of mine told me that she has a ring of big rocks around her strawberry patch, and each year, to make room for the new strawberry runners, she just flips the rocks over and makes the patch bigger.  Where the rocks were, is a bare place perfect for planting the runners.  Genius!

I bought an Alpine strawberry plant to include in this bed, thinking I could try her technique.  The strawberry was embedded in soil in a plastic bag and enclosed in a box.  This is what it looked like when I opened in when I got home.  Is this still alive?  It looks pitiful.  We'll see if it grows.  

I came home from work recently to find that the wind had blown the lid and tarp completely off the hot tub and the pieces were strewn around the yard.  The hot tub looks much more appealing without the ugly old brown tarp we have been using to hold the lid down.  Now that I'm taking a stab at beautifying the landscaping, it might be time to re-think the hot tub lid too.  

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