Blue Castle Garden – Year 13

Mar 14, 2019 | Construct

In 2016, a tremendous amount of work was accomplished in the garden. Much of the work had been planned the prior winter so as soon as the snow melted I was out, digging, transplanting, staining and hauling stone. 

This year I made improvements to previous work. My pergola was stained with the wrong quality and type of stain many years prior so I fixed my previous mistakes and did it correctly this time. 

Same went with the streambed and side yard lattice. While it often felt like I wasn’t really moving forward it was nice to realize those projects were finally done correctly and could be put from my mind. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Installed Pipes to Improve Drainage

This year sod was laid in the front yard in June, the front yard Russian Olive tree was planted and some of the fencing around the property was built. Due to how late the builders were in resolving the grade issue, the fence was not built between me and my neighbour until the following spring.

The grade elevation changed when my neightbour constructed his garage, necessitating the installation of pipe to move water from one section of the roof to the front yard. An additional drain pipe was added in the front yard to eliminate a tripping hazard. 

Completed Stripping and Restaining Pergola

The front yard Russian Olive tree was planted and staked. It was protected with a plastic cover to ensure the rabbits and deer frequenting the neighbourhood didn’t ring the tree and kill it. A ring of grass was cut away from the base of the tree to better allow water and fertilizer to penetrate the root zone.

The tree grew quite well but didn’t add a lot more leaves or branches. This is pretty typical for trees in their first year. Just the fact it was green and healthy was enough for me. Mention here how you also selected this tree and how you came to the tree you planted. Could also put selecting tree into the previous year’s decisions (as in, selected all major trees). 

On the left is the Russian Olive the day it was planted and six weeks later. Most trees do not grow much in the first 3 years after being planted. The sod is already knitting together and becoming a healthy, vibrant lawn.

Lined Streambed

My neighbour’s builder constructed a retaining wall from the front faces of our houses to the back alley. My neighbour planned to build a decorative stone retaining wall in the front yard the following year so that area was left untouched.  

The fenceline with my neighbour on the north side was completed, including installation of the back gate arch posts. This work was completed the following year.

Created Frame for Deck Landing

My neighbour’s builder constructed a retaining wall from the front faces of our houses to the back alley. My neighbour planned to build a stone retaining wall in the front yard for decorative purposes the following year so that area was left untouched.

The photo of my parents digging and raking is one of my all-time favorites. For whatever reason the optical illusion makes my mom appear to be 2 feet tall. She looks like a hobbit. 

Repainted Lower Level House Trim

Because the back yard remained accessible to both the rabbits and deer in the area I decided to grow a box of seed potatoes my mom gave me. It was a complete success and the crop was huge. I gave away bags of fresh potatoes to coworkers because there was no way I could eat that many by myself.

The soil was pretty poor at this point since we hadn’t yet tilled it and added compost. The only effect it seemed to have was on the shape of the potatoes. Any potato that grew into clay or rock was a bit misshapen but they still tasted great. 

Installed Window Boxes

Because the back yard remained accessible to both the rabbits and deer in the area I decided to grow a box of seed potatoes my mom gave me. It was a complete success and the crop was huge. I gave away bags of fresh potatoes to coworkers because there was no way I could eat that many by myself.

While some of the plants couldn’t tolerate how much sun they got, the window boxes were still a welcome addition. They added interest, depth and color to the otherwise boxy exterior of my house.

Restained Side Yard Trellis

Because the back yard remained accessible to both the rabbits and deer in the area I decided to grow a box of seed potatoes my mom gave me. It was a complete success and the crop was huge. I gave away bags of fresh potatoes to coworkers because there was no way I could eat that many by myself.

While some of the plants selected the first year couldn’t tolerate how hot this spot could get, the window boxes were a welcome addition. They added interest, depth and color to the otherwise boxy exterior of my house. 

CHALLENGES

Staining in Extreme Temperatures

This year sod was laid in the front yard in June, the front yard Russian Olive tree was planted and some of the fencing around the property was built. Due to how late the builders were in resolving the grade issue, the fence was not built between me and my neighbour until the following spring.

Preventing Numb Hands from Overuse

This year sod was laid in the front yard in June, the front yard Russian Olive tree was planted and some of the fencing around the property was built. Due to how late the builders were in resolving the grade issue, the fence was not builtbetween me and my neighbour until the following spring.

Iris Rotting from Overly Long Snow Volumes and Melt

This year sod was laid in the front yard in June, the front yard Russian Olive tree was planted and some of the fencing around the property was built. Due to how late the builders were in resolving the grade issue, the fence was not builtbetween me and my neighbour until the following spring.

Achieving Ladder Stability in Tight Areas

This year sod was laid in the front yard in June, the front yard Russian Olive tree was planted and some of the fencing around the property was built. Due to how late the builders were in resolving the grade issue, the fence was not built between me and my neighbour until the following spring.

Show a picture here of One Shot in an artistic place. Maybe on the wall where the wasps were or on your table on the deck. Make it artistic but illustrate your point with it. 

DISCOVERIES

Ground Wasps Exist and So Does One Shot

What came as a total suprise to me was how quickly a new lawn can grow together seamlessly with newly laid sod. With just the typical care of watering, fertilizing and low traffic, the lawn became a green, vibrant carpet on my front yard which looked lovely even without flowers and bushes. 

Show a picture here of One Shot in an artistic place. Maybe on the wall where the wasps were or on your table on the deck. Make it artistic but illustrate your point with it. 

Skunks Love Dead Ground Wasps

The retaining wall issue our builders caused could have made permanent enemies out of my neighbour and me if we had blamed each other personally. By communicating all conversations with our respective builders with each other we made just to keep the focus on where the problem was. 

My neighbour and I had an excellent relationship until she moved several years later. This would not have been possible if either of us hadn’t remained open with each other during the retaining wall debacle. 

Standing water and mud were a regular feature from this year. Post holes would fill with water overnight, making fence construction a challenge. 

A Pressure Washer is a Girl’s Best Friend

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the articles about growing organic food which discuss complex composting and feeding regimes. This year taught me that while poor soil may grow small crops, those crops can still taste wonderful and be just as organic.

It’s sometimes important to just try something, no matter how imperfect the results, because each thing you learn from the experience you can build on. If you don’t ever start until things are perfect you don’t get that exposure which naturally improves your skills without you realizing it. 

Standing water and mud were a regular feature from this year. Post holes would fill with water overnight, making fence construction a challenge. 

GALLERY

Click on an image to begin slideshow. Caption will appear below photo. 

REFLECTIONS

Year 3 started slowly but quickly took off to be a very productive year. It was thrilling to see the property enclosed and beginning to look like a yard instead of a construction zone.

It was a strange feeling to finally be a gardener. It really began to hit home with the potatoes. Dirt can grow things! It was also wonderful to see and participate in construction first hand instead of in a 3D model like at work.

With my expanded confidence, I realized the garden could have even more features than I initially dreamed about. Winter was filled with planning even more exciting beauty spots.

This post is part of the Blue Castle Garden Timeline series.

About Jolene

About Jolene

I’m an avid gardener whose mission is to bring more beauty into the world. I believe that with the right information anyone can create their own beautiful, low-maintenance garden. When I’m not gardening you can find me hiking in the Canadian Rockies. Learn more…

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