Well, it was time to make my dreams a reality.
On Saturday, with the help of our fabulous friends Skye and Erik, we built our garden. It took 11 hours of some back (and often head) breaking labour, but by God, it is a thing of beauty. We had several projects going at the same time actually, so it will take a little explanation (as if you were expecting any less, no?) ;)
My yard is sloped...like a neanderthal's forehead. This in itself really shouldn't pose too much of a problem, except that our neighbour behind us is another six to eight inches below us. As a result, my yard is slowly washing into theirs and without intervention, might have me walking out into my very own eroded wasteland one morning. There was also a "pit" on the one side of the gazebo... a sudden ankle breaker of a drop that you could not see as it was covered in grass until "whoops!" you were stumbling around in it. I knew that in particular would pose a problem for me, never mind anyone else. I would also be remiss if I did not mention now that my fence is a) crooked, b) uneven, c) in need of attention and d) originally constructed by drunken morons. It's lines wave gently back and forth across the span that is my yard. It's hypnotic, really.
There was also a pole in the corner that the former owners had a street sign on top. I thought it was just resting there until I went to move it one day and with a small tug came off it's mooring, which is in effect, a two and a half foot spike. I had originally designed it to go in the garden to hang planters and run beans up, but that was not do-able in the end. The spike had to go.
The master plan was this: pull back the sod in the pit, dig out the garden, fill the pit with the dirt from the garden, replace sod, build the garden. We have steaks and beer. Giddie up.
This corner needs a garden. You can see the pole and under the hanging pot of fuschia is the start of "the pit". You can see I had started digging out the spike that held that pole up.
Saturday morning, I got up at 6 to putter around a bit before the Quinnster got up and started running around looking for Ty and Erin. We tidied up a bit and I headed outside to find something for me to do first. I started grubbing up the sod in the pit by hand, which was going pretty well actually, considering I only had a trowel to work with. It went faster once Skye and the shovels arrived.
Meanwhile, Sean had started work on excavating the spike in the corner. It took him no time at all it seems to rip the thing from the clay. The kids kept themselves occupied. Ty and Quinn proved once again, if you give a couple of guys a nice sunny day, drinks, snacks and an easy chair, they will have a great time.
The rest of the construction went in a series of stages. First the pit needed a set of "retaining" boards to keep the new backfill in the yard.
One retained pit.
As that was finished, the area designated for the new garden had to be dug out. The dirt from that was to go in the pit, to make it more or less level with the rest of the yard.
I am helping.
Once the garden area was dug out, old rotten boards had to be removed from the fence and new ones added to "retain" and form the back wall of the new garden. You can see them going up in the next photo:
Caution: Children and Adults at Play. Wait, they were there a minute ago... Must be break time.
With the pit now full of dirt and sod from the garden, the rolls of sod were replaced and tramped down as best we could. The result is amazing... No more pit!
We are pit-less. Yay!
Now came the really tricky part; the aforementioned neanderthal slope of the yard meant that in order to have a level garden that matched up with the existing one, there was going to be a lot of geometry. A LOT. Thankfully, Erik is a whiz at this sort of thing and we were able to puzzle through what was needed. In order to be three rails high, it really had to be four on one end (most of which was buried) and five on the other. That's a lot of levelling. I suck at levelling. Skye and I went to RONA and bought a hose instead.
The garden slowly takes shape...
From there, it went together fairly quickly. Erik and Sean worked on it primarily as Skye and I had our hands full keeping the kids busy, fed and away from the power tools.
Sean measures up.Little by little, my garden took shape. As each rail was added, I felt happier and happier. It was almost if by it's construction alone, the garden banished once and for all the depression I felt during the winter; the feelings of despair that arose as I was sick at home and unable to do much more than walk across a room without becoming breathless. It was gone and my garden was becoming more than a pencil wish on graph paper.
Sunday morning found me shuffling outside to start filling my garden with black earth. The final tally goes something like this: 32 bags of black soil from the co-op, one bag found in our magic garage, one giant bag of peat moss. That's a lot of dirt! Once it was filled, I had to lay out my strings. Since I decided to use the Square Foot Gardening method, I had to find a way of marking out my "squares". I used one continuous piece of string and a staple gun... much easier than nails and tying a million knots. It meant more geometry however, as I had two choices: 1' squares with a decorative border around the outside, or larger squares. I opted for larger squares.
Quinn is delighted tooI had 4 hours Monday morning to plant my garden and was delighted to find that it only took one! I guess Mel knows what he is talking about. I spent the rest of the time planting my hanging tomato planters and generally cleaning up the yard. I even planted some "leftover" nicotiana around my maple tree in the front... why not?
I looked at my yard one last time before going indoors for my pre-night shift nap, and I was very happy with what I saw. Yes, my back and knees are aching, yes my finger hurts from where I nearly ripped it off hanging a tomato planter... but it was totally worth it. Is it a sense of ownership? Of pride? Maybe. It think it's a little deeper, a little closer to the heart... As I took my last look before I went indoors, it came to me;
It's a sense of home. An elusive thing, to be sure... but a most welcome and magical feeling.
I am home. In my garden.
The finished garden. Now I need to seed the lawn and hang trellis strings and...