Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hard Work Always Pays Off

Happy Summer Solstice! There is no better day than today to celebrate the joy gardening can bring to an individual, a family and a community. I've read and heard about the positive impact of gardening from so many people. Not only does the work of gardening provide a chance to sink into a meditative, happy place, but it also creates a bond between the person and what Aldo Leopold would call our land community (his renowned "land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land"). We learn so much about ourselves and our environment/community when we take the time to look and learn about our surroundings.

I've only been "gardening" for two years, so I'm as green as they come. I'm learning so many things that most experienced gardeners do in their sleep. I'm often guilty of creating a dream garden in my mind and forgetting all of the time, money and hard work that goes into that dream garden. I've recently learned that a garden is never "finished." You can never turn your back on a garden and expect it to thrive on its own -- no matter how hardy. Since we completed the construction and planting in the fenced-in garden/wildflower area, I've put very little time into the maintenance of it. I've been focusing all of my efforts on the landscaping of the area next to it.

Posing by the new addition to our family, Xeriscape. Lady (friend's pup) and Scout (ours) pose with us.
Now the garden area is crawling with weeds that are sucking up vital moisture and nutrients, giving nothing in return. Everyone has "weeds" in their life that choke and stifle growth. If we leave them be, they overrun us and all we've worked to build in our lives. Like friends, family and so many other vital parts of a happy life, we cannot turn our backs on one while we focus on another. I'm still working on this aspect of life and gardening.

This is what we've been doing while the garden sat neglected:
Plans for the entire backyard (bottom) and  xeriscaping (top).

Patrick spray painted an outline for the xeriscaping, edged it out and pulled up any grass in the area (all while I was at a Saturday morning Bat Mitzvah!)

A friend's help is priceless. Tyler came up from Denver to help us move the fill dirt.

The next day we put the weed barrier down.

Patrick and Scout pose by the new Xeriscape area.

3/4 inch river rocks were added and I began planting the xeric plants. I'm still planting. 13 more to go as of today.

To keep our sanity, we also took a short but relaxing camping trip in the Rockies.

I ordered around 30 xeric plants for the xeriscaped area and I have 13 left to plant. The planting has been taking a long time due to all of the prep work that goes into transplanting perennials. First, I rake and shovel all of the rocks from a 12-18x12 inch area, depending on the expected size of the mature plant. I then take a now-dull box cutter to cut away a circle of weed barrier cloth. Then, I shovel the clay loam fill dirt into a separate bucket and shovel  clay buster garden soil into the hole. I mix everything together with a "claw" garden tool, then plop myself down with the new plant and plant it in the fresh soil. Finally, I pull or rake the rocks back into place around the new plant. If I plant a few plants every night this week, it should be completed by the weekend.


  1. Emily, the link for your blog appeared on my FaceBook page and I simply couldn't resist clicking through! AMAZING work my long lost Ameri-aussie friend. I am so unbelievably happy to see you doing so well and I wish you all the best with your gardening endeavours (yes, I will spell that word with a "u" because I am Canadian!ha).

    I don't know who said this, but I quite like it:
    "The garden is a mirror of the heart." It is true, and your garden shall be beautiful!

    Danika (from Victoria, BC)

  2. Thank you, D! What a pleasant surprise to hear from you. I really appreciate the kind words. I hope all is going well in Canada!
    Big Hug,