Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Start of a Shade Garden

Well, you have to start somewhere! Our very slow evolving garden has gotten a start . . . can you guess what we've been doing lately?


Instead of trying to dig holes in this hard clay soil we built a low raised bed instead.

I am especially fond of this tree!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dreams and Visions of Beauty

It amazes me sometimes about how much of my time I spend thinking about the garden I’m hoping to someday (soon) have. The thoughts and plans just wash over my mind over and over again. Recently I was at a weekly bible study (held at work with some co-workers) and someone suggested we take prayer requests from each other. I struggled for a moment because the only thing I could think of was to ask for God’s wisdom on the direction to take this little plot of land. That was the concern of my heart! I didn’t think it was very virtuous so I came up with something else probably much more important . . . the potential loss of my job and prayer for future employment. There are so many hopes for the direction that the landscaping will take yet at the back of my mind is the reality that my husband and I will both need to find a new job by the end of the year – we work for Hewlett Packard, on the same account (Medi-Cal), and we did not win the latest contract award. So we don’t know if we’ll be able to find something else with HP, if we’ll work for the new vendor, or if we’ll need to find something new.
So here we are, we moved to a new home about six months ago, with our blank slate of a landscape, and may potentially be unemployed. And we moved to suburbia on top of everything! We were hoping to be closer to the HP Roseville campus because we were confident that we’d win the next contract. So we’re living in suburbia, surrounded by other houses and no trees, with hard clay soil to work with. This little town of Lincoln is probably most known for the Gladding McBean Pottery Factory – using the clay found in these parts. Lucky us – re: the clay soil! (Do you sense my sarcasm??) As much as I always said that I never wanted to live in a brand new home, surrounded by a bunch of other new homes, that’s what we did. Yet I do love all the space, especially after years and years of living in old and small houses. Yet the trees of East Sacramento, what a treasure! It’s been surprising to me how intimidating a blank slate actually can be.
We’re slowing making progress. We put in some fruit trees and recently purchased some other trees (Gingko, Eastern Redbud, Flowering Plum and a couple of Crabapple). Ross has been slowly digging holes – quite the chore.
I went to an all day workshop a few weeks ago at UC Davis – one that featured Rosalind Creasy of “The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping” fame. She was so inspiring and I came back determined to do an edible landscape. Then I attended a workshop out at High Hand Nursery and my interest in ornamental landscaping came back into focus. I want to do so much! I’ve signed up for an upcoming 3 part series with landscaper Michael Glassman through a Cooperative Education series. What I’m really hoping to gain is insight into how to combine the kitchen garden with my other ideas of beds of flowering plants, etc. We’ve started putting in some of the “bones” yet don’t want to make big decisions until I’ve finished this workshop series.
Up against the home, in our shade garden, we're hoping to do an "Ode to High Hand Nursery".  We just love that place and already have a few Japanese Maples for this area.  We hope to fill it with ferns and just a lovely assortment of green loveliness!

The kitchen garden is set to fill the back part of this space. We plan to build raised beds, incorporating the fruit trees into the beds. We’ll probably start out with wood beds and then hope to someday replace with stone beds.

In the other side of the yard, where the potted roses are temporarily residing, we plan to put in the Gingko, Redbud, Flowering Plum and Crabapple trees and then have some sort of assortment of flowering beds.  Or maybe some sort of meadow - yet not a meadow of grasses, just greens and cool colors (blues, purples).
We want to screen in the porch (there are a lot of mosquitos and gnats flying about!), with some French screen doors (is there such a thing?) with some flower beds and flagstone with creeping thyme or something.

I think this part of the kitchen garden is calling out for a Persimmon tree and maybe some grape vines (table grapes). We also want to put in blueberry shrubs. And, of course, a wide assortment of veggies and herbs. If we end up being unemployed we want to be able to have homegrown food at our disposal.
I’m very much looking forward to developing the Secret Garden – the White Garden. Hmm . . .

Ah, the joy of a blank slate . . .

In the front yard I want to put the roses because we don't get a lot of sun in the backyard (except up against the back fence).  The main front part of the house will be pastel roses and such!  I've ordered something like 17 bare root rose bushes that are set to arrive any day now (Ross better get busy digging holes).  In front of the side yard (in front of the garage) I'm hoping to put more roses - the yellows and oranges, bold colors.  More on those plans later!
We have visions of keeping bees, a little potting shed, and my silly idea about having a few chickens (once it's legal to keep chickens in an urban setting).  Any maybe a turtle and some rabbits! 
So anyway, here we sit - lots of vision -Champagne tastes on a beer budget.  Will you join me for the adventure?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Steal on Japanese Maples

Boy, did we luck out this weekend on some Japanese Maple trees!  I'm on the email list for High Hand Nursery in Loomis - our dreamy new discovery with plants and trees priced totally out of our current budget.  We're talking $700 trees that are to die for, as a common feature of their fabulous inventory.  I received a email notice on Friday evening that they had some trees and shrubs that they needed to sell to make room for new inventory - with a teaser line of "Make Me An Offer".  So, first thing Saturday morning I was over there making some offers.  I think I was one of the first ones to respond and walked away with some great trees.  I don't have the names  for two of them so it will be an adventure to see what they look like once they leaf out - it was a bit rushed while '"making my deals".  I didn't even have a way to get them home yet the guy who sold me the trees (I'm not sure if he was the owner or the manager) let me use his massive truck to make the trip over to Lincoln.  (He asked for a six pack of Japanese soda for his kids from an area Raleys instead of gas . . . I bought him two six packs of a drink until then I knew nothing about.)  I found his offer to be quite generous, he didn't even know me from "Adam", and endeared me to the place even more.  The three trees together were originally priced for a total of something like $665 and I got them for $175.

I love the largest one purchased - I think he said it was already something like 12 years old.  I like how the branches have been wrapped around each other.  Apparently it's a very slow grower with big leaves.  I think it will look great between the kitchen and dining room windows.

Another is a Viridis Acer Palmatum (shade weeping green laceleaf) and the third one starts off a neon yellow and softens a bit and has a red stripe (?) on the leaf.   We'll see!  The picture above is what I'm hoping for after time, love and care.  One will go by the kitchen window and the weeping tree will go by the dining room window.  The shade garden is off to a great start!

I also picked up two Pieris japonica - a Valley Rose and a Mt. Fire.  Below are pictures of what I hope ours will look like after they have matured.

the white one will go in the
secret garden
(aka "the white garden")

here's to
hoping for
many more
fruitful plant

Monday, February 15, 2010

One Other Valentine Beauty

One other Valentine to report (besides the fruit trees) - on Friday night my husband and I headed over to our favorite find so far as new Placer County residents . . . High Hand Nursery.  They were having the grand opening of their new Flower Market.  What a wonderful, dreamy place this is.  They are located at the site of a former fruit packing building and they have the nursery, a cafe in the conversatory, the flower market, a few shops and a collaborative art gallery.  I spotted this little gem as soon as we walked into the Flower Market and knew I had to have it!  Someday I'll plant succulents to go in all the baskets - oh, and the bike pedals too!

21 Fruit Trees

Our 21 fruit trees arrived today - the first purchase for our new garden.  We headed over to Green Acres Nursery on Valentines day, opting for fruit trees over flowers this year for Valentines day. 

What . . . 21 fruit trees??? Aw, the wonder of grafting . . . 4 actual trees with branches of different fruits - an apple espalier (6 different types of apples), a pear espalier (again, 6 in 1), and two "fruit cocktail" or "fruit salad" trees with plums, peaches, nectarines, plucot, etc. And one lone kumquat tree. Now we just have to dig the holes and get them in the ground.

There is so much work, and fun, to be had as we start this new garden.  Starting off with a blank "canvas" is more intimidating than I thought it would be.  So much planning, and dreaming, is ahead and I hope to make progress on the development of this blog, as well as the growth of our little garden.