Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Perspective: Before 'n After

A lazy drizzly morning

following a fun-filled evening of strolling through the garden, with a brief stop at B's Tea Room, and dinner with our good friends D and R who brought with them our mutual friends who have been visiting from Alaska. Over the past 16 years they have experienced first hand the before 'n after perspective of our garden.

As family and other friends have visited over the years and they have their first stroll along the paths, we generally explain there was nothing here... everything you see, shrubs, trees, each plant, was placed in the ground by us. That generally elicits a rather casual wow... hmm... or really?.

When we go back into the house, one of my favorite framed photos is one taken of the front of the house shortly after we purchased it, and as we present it for viewing there is the sound of silence. Finally, the response is an amazed ‘There was nothing here!”, and that evokes a chuckle among us all. As you look at the beauty of the plants and the maturity encompassing the property, my guess is it may be difficult for many to imagine the land without it.

Once spring arrived in 1994 we had a forester take a look and offer advice. Many of the Douglas Fir trees were diseased and needed to be cut; additionally he suggested removing those that could potentially fall on the house. (For those not familiar, Doug firs are fast growing softwoods with a very shallow root system, thus have great potential of uprooting with the winds and saturated soil of the rainy Pacific Northwest and especially so on a rocky slope.)

The series of photos below are a simplified and scaled down version of our efforts. They were taken at approximately the same angle over the years; hopefully you can get an idea as to the denseness as we focus only on the north side. Unbridled is the term I sometimes use when describing the property.

1994, work began (two photos taped together).

Once the logging was complete, an outline for the various beds was planned by walking about and creating paths in concert with the natural lay of the land; cedar sawdust (from a local mill) was used to outline the pathways. There was so much to do, but our approach remained focused and simple: one step at a time, one bed at a time.

1995-96 Our labor of love continued, sometimes from 7 in the morning until 7 at night, one wheelbarrow of dirt at a time, one plant, one tree. Beneath this earth lie rocks and boulders and following the planting of our first tree, we realized dirt had to be trucked in for additional planting.

We loved it and still do; however, our pace is now much reduced and over the past several years have simplified some of the more labor intensive beds, and any planting is now generally reserved for the vegetable garden.