Thursday, October 05, 2017

Finding Land: Two Years Later

Two years have come and gone since we first viewed this property, put in an offer, and then had the offer accepted. To celebrate the anniversary, let's take a look at some BEFORE and AFTER photos. I thought it would be fun to see the original photo along with one taken at the exact same spot every year. This would be the third such post in this series. Many shots look quite the same, but over time I think this experiment will really show the growth rate of the garden.


Here's an opening shot of the main garden, just taken last week on the 1st of October, 2017.


Let us now go back in time to see what it once was:
The first photo from that hot, September day in 2015. I recall wanting to remove the deer fence surrounding the raised beds even then. And please, paint that porch. Ideas were percolating like crazy.



Here it is last year, many of my wishes fulfilled. No more pink deck (but had a little more work to do yet on it such as the metal cables going across it horizontally for a safety barrier) and no more deer fence around the veggie patch. The plants in the foreground had been added early fall 2016 so will take a while to settle in. This is where many asters and grasses have been planted or moved from other parts of the garden. The idea is that it will be a transitional meadow-kind of garden, while the more formal plantings are closer to the house.


Here, the extent of my craziness can be fully appreciated. Much less dirt, many more plants. On the lower left you can see a corner of the "Himalayas", a couple of berms created when the gravel trench path was dug out. Oh, my nutty ideas never cease.



Then, 2015, a sunny day with a dried-up bank of a few crocosmias, asters, azaleas and Alchemilla mollis, my arch nemesis. The soil could not be dug into as it was rock hard.



Here it is last year, 2016 on a drizzly afternoon. The soil is much richer having a lot of compost and gravel added. I can easily dig into it now and have done just that . . . many, many times. The bed has been completely redesigned and 95% of the plants have been moved or removed. Many more added.



This photo taken last weekend, 2017. While the soil will need ongoing compost, it is okay. Not great, but okay. Plants have filled out a little, not a lot, but remember I don't fertilize. Rather, I believe in improving the soil to feed the plants. I guess I need to work on improving the soil this fall. Same crummy weedy "lawn," though. I have another crazy idea. I'd like to make a gravel path along the edge of this garden to eliminate the weedy "lawn" a little more. What say you, Facilities Manager? Can we do it?



The "forest" on the northern edge of the property.


Here it is last year, with a bad photo, my apologies. What's new here is the fence on the left and therefore the removal of many of these trees, especially farther east. There is Facilities Manager's log pile in the middle of the trees and you can just make out the green chicken cube/coop on the right.



Here it is in 2017. I admit, I took a photo of the wrong two trees, but it's close enough. We've been adding plants along the northern edge here and there, mostly shrubs.



The driveway as it was in November 2015 You can see the hot-pink garden shed in the background.


Last year - what's different is the hazelnut on the left is gone (except for the stump), there is a massive debris pile on the right which will go away soon, and also although out of frame, just to the right, a large maple tree has been removed. The shed, barely visible in the distance, is now Casa Azul blue.


Here it is this year. Not a lot has changed, but the pile on the right is long gone. It looks like this time last year the maples had lost a lot of their leaves. It still feels like late summer this time around.




This is actually a lovely scene from November 2015. The grass was starting to green up from all of the fall rains.



Early October 2016 - wow, so much is different. The bed on the right was created by sheet mulching (which I did in January, you can revisit that post here) and now holds a field of Carex comans 'Frosty Curls' and four large Miscanthus sinensis 'Cabaret' grasses. The gravel path is of course new (and will be expanded) and this is also the top edge of the fire pit area below in the center of the white plastic chairs. The labyrinth garden can just be seen to the left where the labyrinth once was. The whole thing is connected so it doesn't feel like three separate areas any longer.




Here it is today, paths completed and the carex triangle also complete. They will likely fill in and next year look more like the older carex in the background. Also interesting to see the Japanese maple in the center with the beginnings of fall color has put on a significant amount of growth.





 One of two gorgeous Oregon white oaks on the property, this one in the wild east fields.


Here it is from October 2016. Not much has changed except its neighbor to the right, the large dead Acer macrophyllum has been chopped down by Facilities Manager. There are also many debris piles awaiting their fate, too.



Today its neighbors are apple and pear trees to the right (south). It has room to spread out a little more, although the scrub to the left of the tree will be primarily left alone, except for the blackberries and other invasive plants. We are leaving a large hedgerow for wildlife. In this photo, Facilities Manager is chainsawing a few of the large chunks out of the slash pile and relocating them in the hedgerow to decompose over time.



2015: Aaah, labyrinth, you were fun. But you were also 50' in diameter . . . that's valuable gardening space. The rock pile can just barely be seen on the right side.



2016: Even though a gloomy shot with dead grass in the foreground, I still prefer the sight of plants. The gravel path will be extended, as will the bed to the right. These are newly planted, so they have obviously not filled in. I am so excited to observe them do so over the next few decades. There are many evergreen shrubs, small trees both deciduous and evergreen and several perennials. Oh, and the rock pile is gone. Thanks, FM!


Here it is October 2017, the path complete. Plants are really filling in and the area on the right was extended this year. To the left, although out of shot, we planted several Ceanothus gloriosus under the other Oregon white oak. They are beginning to spread and will make a great evergreen ground cover/sub-shrub and fill in that empty area prone to weed infestation.



The plant prison probably January of 2016. Pink deck and all.



October 2016: This to me is the most telling and revealing about how I envision the whole garden. I started here first, the epicenter of the garden and it's starting fill in and give a sense of place. This brings me enormous joy.


2017: Not a lot of change here other than the yuccas are larger, the Ceanothus 'Italian Skies' at the base of the deck have rebounded from the winter's freezing damage, although one of the three Ceanothus that was replaced due to winter death is still quite small and cannot be seen in this shot. Also the Olearia lineata 'Dartonii' just behind the stump table has grown significantly. That's a great evergreen (silver) shrub, I now have three in the garden. Facilities Manager also added wire cable to the deck as a safety measure to keep little ones and drunk gardeners from falling through.



Facing west 2015. This was in November with many pretty leaves all around.



October 2016: Here you can see our new fence and gate, a row of Spiraea betulifolia along the edge of the driveway, a giant debris pile to the left and the removal of the other dead Acer macrophyllum. Also in the forestry area on the other side of the driveway are many many shrubs. They won't be visible from this distance for a year or two.



October 2017: The Spiraea betulifolia have grown a little, the debris pile on the left is gone, but otherwise, the same. The shrubs on the other side of the driveway are just beginning to show up from this distance. Hooray!



2015: The berm garden with four or five azaleas along the edge and many other very unhappy plants.


October 2016: The azaleas have been liberated and the soil improved. Many happy plants.


October 2017: Slowly filling in. It looks like the Chamaecyparis laswoniana 'Wissel's Saguaro' tree has gained about a half an inch. D'OH! Also off in the distance, we don't see fall color on the redbuds - you can see the yellow foliage in last year's photo to the right of the top of the roof.



October 2015: Same scenario here, but at least it's a sunny shot.



October 2016: Compost, gravel, plants, plants and more plants.




October 2017: OK, ignore the grassy weeds in front, but beyond that, it's getting there. These honestly aren't the best shots to show the real growth of the garden, but I can't go back in time...If only!



October 2015: Parting shot, much like the initial photo for this post.


October 2016: Here it is last year, complete with volunteer pumpkin vine on the left.


October 2017. That Japanese maple has also really filled out. Funny thing, I have never watered either of them, they must just benefit from general care of the soil.


We love this place. The beauty of it, the serenity, the wildlife all fill our hearts with such joy. We get to watch things grow, critters come and go, the cycles of it all. It is a privilege to live here. We are two grateful, humble souls looking forward to the next 30 years on this land.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening! 


23 comments :

  1. You are truly creating paradise and in very short order considering the amount of work that you have done. I mourn the labyrinth but its replacement is stunning.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Barbara. Yes, we loved the labyrinth also, but it was prime real-estate for plants. I left the very middle stone exactly in place, it was never moved (except to take the landscape fabric beneath it away) to honor the labyrinth.

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  2. Wonderful! And so inspiring. Basically, I'm doing the same thing over here at le maison O'Dittle: making a garden from pretty much absolute scratch. (Though on a vastly, vastly smaller scale - yikes!) And as a complete newbie to your master gardener, you always give me such great ideas and such hope - like I said, inspiring! Thank you! : )

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    1. Thank you!! You ARE doing the same and any size you work with, it's still a lot of work. What to do with the space you have? What decisions to make...what to plant, what do you want it to look like in 5, even 10 years? I'm glad you glean ideas, that's what this blog is all about so thank you!!

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  3. It's a remarkable transformation, especially given the sheer size of the property and last winter's serious challenges. I love the front view with that spectacular Japanese maple and the non-pink porch. Congratulations on the fruits of your considerable efforts!

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    1. That Japanese maple is turning out to be very lovely, I'm glad I left them (there are two on this side of the property). I had to remove two diseased ones but so far these remain healthy. Yes, that pink porch had to change. Thanks for your comments, Kris! :)

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  4. Only 2 years in and it already is becoming amazing!

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  5. I enjoyed this post so much. I hope you and the excellent FM are feeling proud of your accomplishments. I especially love the transformation of the areas just beyond your deck-and of course the un-pinking of said deck. Well done !

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    1. Thank you so much, KS! The "un-pinking" (I love that!) changed everything, don't you think?

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  6. Besides all the compliments I could heap on you about the general look of things (fabulous!), I’m amazed at your ability to take consistently framed shots while everything about you changes...impressive! I look forward to these comparisons in future years.

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    1. Aw, thanks Danger. Well, regarding the framed shots...there are a lot of photos in my trash bin, believe me. It's challenging! Yes, I think this will be a fun experiment to continue.

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  7. I love to see before and after photos and these were fabulous! I love your garden and can't believe how much you've done in two years.

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    1. Thank you Rebecca! We've been busy, but it's the best kind of work!

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  8. Wow, wow, wow! What a transformation, and so much for the better. You are not just a fantastic plant person but a talented designer too. It's not an easy task combining the two but you've done it beautifully.

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    1. Thank you so much, Grace. That's the ultimate compliment, I am humbled. Thank you :)

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  9. Gah,I love this so much. I know the hours and labor put in...dedication and vision at its finest. It's an incredible transformation in such a short amount of time. The land is thanking you, of that I'm sure.

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    1. Gah, I love what YOU are doing, Mindy! Amazing. You have 6x the amount of land I do, and with your amazing talents, I look forward to watching your garden(s) develop over time. Your words are too kind! I'm sure the land is thanking YOU as well ;)

      I know you of all people appreciate the hours and labor. It's difficult to convey, but you get it...a true labor of love and not caring that you're covered in mud from head to toe day after day and you are SO stoked when the husband brings home groceries so you don't have to leave the garden. Oh, yeah. Paradise.

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  10. all that useless sterile lawn, changed into habitat and food, restoring to the diversity that was here before the land was cleared. Beautiful, on all levels.

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    1. Thank you Dramagarden. You get it, indeed. It's so amazing how alive it all is - when you are here, you are surrounded by so many creatures. The bird song, the buzz of bees, the call of our native squirrel Doug the Douglas squirrel...What a wonderful feeling. :)

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  11. Anonymous9:19 AM PDT

    Grande , só que eu precisava .

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  12. I'm happy for you! Your pictures are just amazing, thank you for sharing.

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  13. Watching your progress is always an inspiration!

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