Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh no! Another blog?

Probably the last thing I need in my life is another blog to keep up. It would seem that my life is becoming more and more segmented in this manner, but no matter. It's kind of nice to have these neat and tidy spaces in which to write about different aspects of my life. Topic-specific blogging definitely helps me to keep my head organized, I won't lie.

So I will tell you that in addition to being an amateur gardener, I am an artist who has struggled with food and body issues most of my life. Thus, my other blogs are regarding my art and my struggles with health, fitness, and weight loss, with the latter being, quite frankly, in indefinite hiatus.

Now that my introduction is in place, I will tell you a little bit about my gardening life, which goes back to my earliest years as a child. When I was four, my parents bought an old abandoned farmhouse with some acreage in a small town in western New York. I have many memories of helping out in the large gardens that they built (wait, do you build a garden?), though not always happy. While I loved being able to crunch on a string bean or some sweet peas right off the vine, I really didn't care much for the dirty, hands on hard work that was required to keep the gardens thriving. It was just never my cup of tea. Looking back now, though, I know how lucky I was to have that gardening experience. They had two huge plots (maybe about 20 feet by 30 feet each? I'll have to ask my mom) in the back yard, along with about 30 feet of grape vines. This was back in the 1970s, and my mom canned a lot and made homemade jams, pickles, relish, ketchup—none of which I appreciated very much, for shame.

After my parents divorced, the veggie gardens were no longer, but my mom kept up many beautiful flower gardens throughout the property, and does to this day. Again, over the years, I'd be implored to help out with weeding, and would do so grudgingly, if at all.

Fast forward to two years ago this August, when my boyfriend and I bought our first house. While we don't have much property, what is there came installed with some garden materials. The house came with some lovely rose bushes, rose of Sharon abound, a gorgeous weeping cherry tree, a lilac, a flowering quince, and a healthy patch of spearmint. There were also a few small bushes including holly, azalea, and rhododendron, not to mention several clumps of hostas and centaurea. The following spring we also discovered that previous owners had planted hundreds of bulbs including several varieties each of daffodils, tulips, crocus, and hyacinth.

Last year's weeping cherry, with a glimpse of the flowering quince at left
Weeping cherry tree

I found myself getting really excited about having our own land to work and take care of. Sure enough, I finally got bit by the gardening bug. I finally fit in with the rest of my mom's side of the family, who are all gardening nuts.

My first spring at the house, last year, I spent time cleaning up and just getting to know what exactly what I had to work with. As the warmer months came, I became more and more involved and active in the gardens. I started moving things around little by little. Toward the end of the season, I found myself scooping up deals at local nurseries for bargain perennials to fill up the empty spaces with. I also realized that we are very lucky to have what I am pretty sure is darned good soil, because it seems like just about anything I stick it the ground thrives—at least so far. Sedum, aster, dianthus, winter pansies, more sedum (I really like this group of succulents) and others (I have to check the labels I kept from when I planted), including a group of iris from my cousin Marianne, hostas and ferns from my dad, and a few things from my mom including columbine and poppy. So far, I am seeing lots of new growth that I have had my eyes on since the snow melted—it's really exciting to see the fruits of my experiments! (Which I say because I was really doing just that, a lot of experimenting. I don't really know what I am doing quite yet and hoping for the best.)

Last year's late April blooms
Front garden

Some of the sedum that was planted last summer, July 2008

This year I am being ever more ambitious and digging out more in the back yard, which I've been gradually trying to tame from its rather jungle-like, unkempt state when we first moved. It's a little postage stamp back there, but has great potential to become a paradise for sure, as long as we can also manage to afford a good fence against our next door neighbors, whose backyard view is less than attractive. The current fence is too short and starting to deteriorate... and I am pretty certain it is theirs, not ours.

The backyard about a month before we first moved in
Back yard

Anyway, just yesterday I came across a website for a nursery located a few hours away in the Ithaca, NY area called Graceful Gardens that specialize in traditional cottage garden plants and flowers. It is here where I think I will be getting many new flowers to add to my gardens, especially my shady one right at the back of the house. I have visions of foxglove, delphiniums, and lupins...

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