Friday, February 20, 2009

The Townhouse Garden 2006, Armed And Dangerous

It was early one morning in April 2006, I was 6 months pregnant at the time and there was an itch I needed to scratch. I just had to start gardening. I got my shovel, and my large pruners and I was ready to rumble. Times run out on that Peries Japonica, that plastic edging, some sacrifices have to be made for the greater good.

The start of the remodel, gone are the over grown, sad looking bushes, it's off to the city recycle yard for you.

The Japanese Maple "Bloodgood" I've had growing in a half barrel container, on the balcony at the apartment finally gets planted in the ground, It as I, can now spread it's roots.

I dug up all the sandy soil that was out front and piled it up. It was in serious need of some amendment.

Some examples of the brick I was thinking of using to border the new improved garden bed.

I know that your garden is as only as good and the soil it's grown in. I pain stakingly screen out all of the existing soil and got rid of all the rocks, roots, pieces of concrete and other building material that mysteriously appeared in the soil.

I got a load of compost from the Vancouver Landfill, really economical, $5 for a utility trailer full. I used this to amend the existing soil. 5 parts compost to 2 parts existing sandy soil. Mixed by hand in my wheelbarrow, and dumped into place. Anything was better than what was there before.

Recycling what I had, I used the red bricks from the side of the townhouse to use as a base for the brick edging. I picked this up at the Home Depot for .89 per brick not to bad, looks great. When I needed to make a few cuts on the bricks to fill in the odd spot I marked it, and took it the BC Brick on #5 Rd. and Bridgeport. and for a reasonable fee, they were happy to help me. I'm not an expert in masonry, I cheated on leveling the edging. I put half of the brick on the red brick base and half of the brick on the sidewalk. Looks nice and level, I'm sure I'll need to adjust the brick in a few years as it begins to settle, but I'll deal with that later.

Starting to show some promise.

The front entrance is getting a makeover as well.

Bye bye brick, hello prime growing real estate.

The first year had some challenges, one of which was then we had the roof replaced in July, I thought that all my hard work was going to be ruined, plant's broken by roofing material, but that wasn't the case. The roofers were very good about not destroying my plant material. As you can see the Dahlia's were just starting to grow along the west side of the townhouse. The Japanese Maple has leaved out and I added a little weight to the garden in the form of a concrete bird bath. It adds that little something that was missing.

As you can see, the Dahlia's are in bloom and the side of the townhouse is now bursting with colour and interest. Everyone who drives or walks down the sidewalk into the complex is greeted with my colourful garden improvements.

The edging wasn't quite completed this year, the ornamental cherry is slated for removal the next year, and the root will be ground down. It will be finished then.

I planted some giant sunflower seeds for fun, and boy they didn't disappoint. I'm sure they brought a smile to many faces.

And that was that, with a now newborn to take care of my gardening for this year is done.

The Townhouse Garden 2005, A Blank Slate.

It was 2005 when we moved from the apartment to the townhouse. Filled with excitement, I was, at the thought of starting another garden from scratch. Only this time, I'd have some real earth to play around with. The days of forced container gardening, for me, are over.

These pictures were taken just as we were putting pen to paper and signing off on our new life, in the townhouse.

It's not that clear, but the front of the townhouse has an established emerald green cedar hedge, and some peiris japonica out front, bordered with some plastic edging, yuck. The west side of the townhouse is completely covered with bricks. I guess gardening wasn't the the favorite past time of the previous owner. I remember the first thing I said to myself when I saw that brick was I'm going to rip it up and grow something there, and that's exactly what I did.

To the front of the townhouse there was a old ornamental cherry tree, that wasn't very healthy, and some other yellow flowered plant. Oh and a yucca, can we say yuck, I've been digging that up for years.

The backyard was such a blank slate, just what I like, room for my vision to materialize.

Future site of many things to come.

Not much happening with the greenery. But the south facing backyard has some real potential!

2005 not only showed change in my address but also change in my family, we moved into the townhouse in October and by the end of November I was pregnant with my first. But that didn't put a damper on my gardening aspirations.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Apartment Garden 1999 - 2005

In the apartment is were I had my container garden.

The Geraniums in the clays pots look great but dried out way to fast.

Our balcony was a hot, southwest exposure. It was always a challenge to water all the containers and keep the plants from wilting during the day while I was at work. Especially the Japanese Maple that I had growing in a big half barrel pot.

I love plants that are both beautiful and that smell great. Due to the limited space on the balcony, and to maximize the growing potential, I grew as much as I could vertically. Here is a picture of some Late Dutch Honeysuckle, grown from a cutting taken from my childhood home, up one of trellis's I made. When in bloom, and after a nice hot summers day, the Honeysuckles fragrance would drift in the door and into the living room. I always like to take a few springs of fresh flowers and put it in a small bud vase next to the bed.

After a long day, it was always nice to come out and sit on the balcony amongst all the greenery, my sanctuary. The cat always had her favorite chair to.

This was a great view to look out to from the living room.

The years past and the garden is always changing.

One of my favorite roses, Abraham Darby it has a wonderful smell and is a full old fashioned looking flower. As you can see it's a climber.

Even in the winter, there's always a garden to tend. If there's any available space with good lite I'll have plants growing there.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Where It All Began

My love for gardening, goes back as far as I can remember.

As a little girl, I have fond memories of always having a garden, whether that be my own or not. My mother, for a handful of years, kept a vegetable garden in our backyard. It wasn't to big, just a few rows of this or that, mostly tomatoes, squash, beans and peas. I would always eat the peas just as they were ready, or before, for that matter. I don't think my mom ever really had a chance to eat them.

My Mom's backyard Garden, Richmond 1976

My earliest memories always go back to when my Grandma Elsie would come over for visits, I could always find her, ice cream bucket in hand, out picking the raspberries. She would make raspberry jelly, I loved her raspberry jelly. God, what I wouldn't give to be side by side picking raspberries with her again. Come harvest time, Grandma would be at the kitchen table, cutting up the beans and bagging the beans for the freezer. Mom told be a story of when Grandma was in the hospital, having just given birth to her. It was in August, and someone had given her a beautiful bunch of fresh sweet pea's, another of her favorites. I guess that's why we always had them growing in the garden. Even to this day, in her memory I always plant some in the garden.

We had other things growing in the garden to like, roses, sweet William's, a rhodo, 2 lilac's a purple and a double white one, late dutch honeysuckle, yellow allysim, and a big blue hydrangea to name a few.

One year when I was old enough, or perhaps after I begged enough I was given my own small garden plot, along the back of the house. It wasn't that big, maybe 2ft by 10ft, but that was enough to get this green thumb going. Even in that space, I grew potato's, radishes, sage, catnip and other things I can't quite remember.

In my teen years, I can remember I would spend countless hours outside in the garden, which by now I had, for the most part, taken over from my mom. Although it wasn't just the vegetable garden, I had my hand in, but I also enjoyed cutting the grass. We had a old reel mower that I got working again, I loved the way the grass looked after I cut it with the reel mower.

After moving out when I was 18, I was always longing to have my own garden again. Every place I have lived since then I have always tried to garden, successfully or not. Riping up grass and making plots at rental properties, I've had a community garden plot or two over the years. Balcony gardens, light gardens, any garden. I have the uncontrollable passion to grow things. I can't live without gardening. I get so excited about it. Going to garden shows, garden club meeting, talking to other people about their garden, going through seed catalogue's, reading local gardening magazines, watching home and garden TV. I got to have it.

For the past three years, I've been living in a townhouse that has some ground to work, a space to create my next garden, and this time it's right out side, no travel time evolved. With hoses at arms reach, and a place to store all my gardening tools. I've started my next urban garden, the journey continues.....