Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gardens above 6000 feet

I still haven't gotten used to the weather here in Colorado. Today it's warm, sunny and it's going to be in the mid 60's today. By Saturday it's going to be below freezing and snowy. I was born and raised in California and then migrated up to Oregon where I lived for 18 years to where I enjoyed the four seasons that were evenly spaced out.  Once I got here to Colorado I had to put on my thinking cap and rethink gardening, outdoor activities and how to layer my clothes for the day. 

I have learned a lot about how to garden in this dry arid climate. I always tease my husband when he asks, "Where would you like to go today," and I say, "Hawaii!" He returns a look of sarcasm without saying a word and just smiles at me.  Since I love the sun and long to be somewhere where it's warm most days, I have learned to appreciate the sunny warm days that we have here in Colorado. Someday we will move back to Oregon where we will have the four seasons that we enjoy along with the mountains, valleys, high plains and the coast all in one state.

So I have learned a lot about xeriscaping and have designed our front yard into a high dessert botanical garden. Learning from the local extension, the yard has done well and draws many people to slow down and admire as they go down our street. It takes so little work, water and time once you get it established.  I love the brightness of the the blooms against the pink pea gravel. The wood chips that line the walkways make care easy as i just reapply each year to give it a fresh look. I installed a drip system to keep the plants watered on minimal water and adjust according to the hot months. I hope you enjoy a walk through my front yard as many have in the past.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

As the Garden Sleeps

Here it is March and the recent snow blankets our garden covering the dry, brown grass flowing over flower beds, once filled with lush foliage and colorful flowers.  I sigh a long drawn out sigh that in my garden language means, "hurry up spring!" I must be patient and think of ways to not look outside and be reminded that there are still 2 more months of freezing temperatures and blankets of snow to come. On the bright side, I thank God for the much needed moisture for the season ahead. No water restrictions here in Colorado means that I can plant lots of flowers, move plants and create more cubbies of beautiful spaces to enjoy. In the mean time I'm looking for garden art at the local second hand stores and planning the new renovation that will come this year. 

There are many steps to this new renovation that must take place before any ground can be moved to accommodate my new ideas, so with pencil, eraser and paper in hand, I begin to sketch out the new plans for the yard. Sprinklers must be moved or changed, rocks piled away from soil that needs to be moved. More soil needs to be brought in, plants need to be moved. Once all of this is done, then the timbers can be laid and secured in place and the new privacy wall installed. Living in the city means that your neighbors can get a birds eye view of everything that you do, so the goal is to limit this view as much as possible without putting up a giant curtain all the way around our yard like I have sworn to when I see my neighbor glancing at me wandering what I'm up to now.. 

At one time we were thinking of creating a deeper and larger pond to accommodate our 13 fish that all have names. They are fun to feed by hand and watch as they swim looking for tiny tidbits to feed on. I don't know what it is about watching fish in our pond that is so peaceful to me. Maybe it's only me, but I enjoy their graceful laps around the pond that seem so effortless. We decided not to increase their habitat since we are thinking of moving to the country some day soon, so just the patio around the pond will be increased to move the swing into a more private setting and a new privacy wall erected to block the view of our neighbors.

I will take some pictures as the work progresses, so that you can see what changes that are made in our garden. Right now it will all be on paper so that my husband can prepare what supplies he needs to get things going. Today we purchased a new hook so I can hang my garden apron on, my kneeling pad and maybe a hat on. Buying these small things makes my heart glad to know that spring is close and soon my hands will be dirty and my heart full.

My Garden, My Health

Today starts a new entry that recognizes my garden as one of the many benefits to my health. In other words, life, love, peace, nourishment, both for body and soul come from the joy of working, playing and resting in my garden. Many times I have been overwhelmed by life's never ending influx of stress and problems. By the end of the day I know that I can retreat to one of the many quiet places in my garden and curl up on our wonderful garden swing with a book and nice cup of tea and loose myself from the day's heavy weights.

In the past I have grown tomatoes and other vegetables to see how well that they would do. Some did better than others and our local squirrels let me know that hey were all very tasty. So after battling and giving into the squirrels I decided to plant shrubs and flowers. This way I could have color and privacy and not worry if there would be any harvest to share with the pesky squirrels. As I lay on the swing, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin and feel the breeze across my face, I dream of a home that has this kind of weather everyday so I can spend my days relishing the beauty that surrounds me that we have created to be our sacred space, our place of sanctuary, our garden.

Now I don't live on acerage or out in the country as you might think, but we live in a suburban area surrounded by a sea of houses. In the 6 years that we have lived here we have dug and moved tons of dirt, brought in piles of rocks and hauled truck loads of timbers to make our garden from a once hillside of dying grass to what it is today. From the day we moved in I could see our yard as a blank canvas in which to create the spaces that lend to nooks of color and areas of rest. Each year we have added another element to the canvas of our yard to bring interest and delight to the eye. we are collectors of garden art and pieces that we find on weekend trips around Colorado to add to the beauty of our garden. Our garden is ever changing with colors and pots, trees and flowers. I will keep creating until it is time to go and when we do sell our house I hope the next owners find the same joy and peace that we have over the years.