Gardening saved me during the pandemic. As I look back at all the garden changes completed this year I realize how being home and in the garden has soothed my soul. After almost two years of reading stuff online that either came across as angry or divisive, I would go outside to calm my nerves. I just couldn’t be online as much as before. Although I found myself talking to insects or birds it was better than trying to talk to people online. The pandemic brought us a rush of zoom everything. I don’t mind zoom talks once in awhile as it’s a great way to talk to friends far away. I did a few presentations on zoom but soon I started to despise them. Since my presentation was open on the laptop all I could see as a presenter was myself and sometimes the host. I couldn’t see the audience, know how they were reacting to my talk or if they hated it. I realized how much I liked seeing peoples expressions and answering questions. I figured by the end of 2020 I would be speaking in person. That didn’t happen. What did happen this year is I started doing YouTube videos for the City of Delta. I love it! It was like doing television all over again. For those of you who don’t know, I was a volunteer host for a tv garden show for ten years. I will still do presentations in person when they start to happen but for now I’m content doing videos in the garden.
I had hoped to open the garden in 2021 but restrictions were still in place. I have high hopes for next year. We’ve completed a lot of projects over the last two years. When I say we, I mean Farmer Jim and I. He does all the building and a lot of the grunt work, I do the planting and design. Lately he’s coming up with new garden projects and I’m giving him full reign.
Let’s take a look at a couple of projects in the garden. The first project was completed this year and it’s a large pergola near a new rose garden. We had looked at various kits from big box stores but none fit our needs. Farmer Jim started drawing rough sketches of what he wanted to build. The pergola had curves and would span 20′ and be 8′ wide. It would replace the old hoop house frame that had been on the property for 17 years. Can you believe it? I always disliked the large hoop house as it was ugly, okay I’ve said it, it was ugly in my opinion. It’s meant to be covered in plastic and growing vegetables underneath. When we moved here it was 60′ long and 20′ wide. Yes, it was huge and took up a lot of space. Gradually over the years we took sections out and then sold the rest of it to a farmer.
Okay I got off topic. Here is the pergola Farmer Jim designed this year. I absolutely love it! I envision clematis and roses growing over top. Not enough to shade anything as we need sun to grow the other plants nearby. It was certainly a labour of love. I will say when we bought the lumber I think Farmer Jim got sticker shock but it was still better to build our own pergola as opposed to a kit.
The second project we completed during the pandemic is the Arthur Glen garden. It was planted up a year ago in the fall with Cotinus, Spirea, Taxus or Yew trees, Hydrangeas, Aucuba and many perennials. We hope the Cotinus or smoke bush grows to its 20′ as a focal tree for the garden. Its actually a large shrub with beautiful wine coloured oval leaves. I added Liatris to the garden as I wanted some vertical interest in the garden. This year I filled the gaps with annual flowers such as bachelors buttons, Lavatera, Cosmos Apricot Lemonade, Dahlias and Yarrow. Little did I realize the garden would become a bee haven. I loved the way the annual flowers added that pop of colour and can’t wait to do it all over again next spring. The only plants that didn’t do well are the Hydrangeas. No matter how much I watered, once the heat wave hit the flowers dried up and said goodbye until next year. Fortunately we have lots of places to move them to and I can add more bee loving plants.
A busy garden like this isn’t for everyone. I’m a believer that the soil shouldn’t be bare. I cringe when I see those perfect gardens full of mulch with few plants. I planted Salvia that I grew from seed and it was over 3′ tall in this garden. I liked having different heights in the garden. It made it more interesting to look at. So what’s next? We have started creating a new garden which is part shade. This time we are trying sheet mulching or the lasagna garden method. It’s best done in the fall so we can plant in the spring. Did you have new garden projects completed this year? I’d love to hear about them.