Last Fall, after we had set the sod and planted the trees and had a bunch of empty flower beds to fill, I went on the prowl for plants. I just wanted things that would survive our alkaline, rock-studded-clay, and salty soil, in the shade by the fence and up against the house--a pretty tall order, I know. But, my mom, grandma, and even my uncle and some friends were very generous in giving us starts of lots of plants. You might even remember some of it and all the awesome things we found to plant. We put them in last year, battled back some weeds, and prayed that even part of it would survive. One thing we planted was some rhubarb from my Grandma's garden, which was pretty shriveled and sad looking when we put it in, and never looked alive at all through the remainder of the fall. I was certain I had killed it. We'd chopped the crowns into smaller pieces before planting, and I thought I'd just done it in. The black-eyed Susans as well; they looked downright miserable after planting. I had some hope for the daisies, but I was unsure about the hosta even though my mom insisted it was very resilient. It just looked sick to me. We even planted a big red-twig dogwood bush that had outgrown its place at my mom's house, but it took so much effort and root-hacking to get it out of the ground that a few days after I transplanted it, it lost its leaves and I was certain it was doomed to be a nice pile of sticks for us to admire. I hoped beyond hope something, anything, would survive the winter and renew my gardening faith in myself.
Winter came... cold and harsh. I knew the tender perennials would be dead. I have some hydrangea that I was unsure about, and our oak trees never fully lost their leaves--a bad sign. In March it finally thawed enough for us to meander through the yard again. Cody got to work building the raised beds and we brought in soil. Since we had so much of the beautiful sandy loam to work with, we put it all over the flower beds that were still housing all those starts, burying many of them several inches deep. All I could think of was, "Well, at least it was fun to plant, and the next round will be healthier because it has better soil now."
The last couple of months have felt like Christmas morning every time I go outside. A leaf! There's a leaf! I can't believe it, a green leaf!!! Oh my goodness, the trees have buds on them! Well, except for the phoenix tree, that one doesn't. But the dogwood does! Look, look, a green patch of grass! Amazing! I think all of our daisies pulled through, can you believe it? And look, I think, I think that might be a black-eyed Susan coming up. Oh, and the ice plant and rock plant are greening up... and spreading! They're spreading fast! Look now, I think one of the raspberry starts is getting leaves on it, it's actually growing! You're right, Lee, there IS a flower on the strawberries, that's incredible! Quick, get the root stimulator, let's put our tomatoes in the ground! The oak trees are leafing out and they look phenomenal! Oh my heck, the hosta, it is poking up through all that dirt and unfurling. Gorgeous! And even... can you believe it... the hydrangea! Just barely, but it has leaves on it; it survived! Let's harvest the lettuce and radishes, wow they taste great! Anna, yes you can have another helping of raw spinach straight from the garden without any dressing! And today: I harvested my rhubarb! From MY garden! From my salty, alkaline, rock-studded-clay yard! It grew and is huge and beautiful!
|First harvest of OUR rhubarb|
|Katie by the quakies and the pumpkin patch--already growing|
|Peas, radishes, lettuce, spinach|
|My herb box: basil, rosemary, parsley, chives|
|Cody's ice plant, each individual plant having tripled in size this year|
|The Canby Raspberries, leafing out|