When we purchased this home one of its positive and negative attributes was it's blank condition. The house sits on close to 3 acres and the bulk of the property was made up of lawn. Plain old grass that required excessive amounts of mowing. The benefit to this was the property was a blank canvas. We could plant anything we wanted, do anything we wanted, virtually unencumbered by someone else's previous designs. That blank canvass is both a hindrance and a blessing. There's a lot of work required to landscape such a large property but I'm excited by the possibilities before me. We moved into the house in late fall 2009 and last spring was our first gardening season. The first thing we did, or didn't do rather, was mow the lawn. We were horrified by the amount of gas and time that it took to mow the entire property and there was no reason to do it. I don't need a lawn to do cartwheels on. What I want are flowers. So we left the 'back' section grow wild and were delighted with the results. What I hadn't realized was that our 'lawn' was really just an old farm field and when let go it became a beautiful wild meadow.
By allowing the field to regenerate we have become a haven of wildflowers and grasses. I'm thrilled and hope to expand on this. Currently I'm reading The American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn and it's giving me all sorts of ideas on how to encourage native plants and flowers and create a meadow that both encourages wildlife and is a beautiful garden.
As much as I love the meadow I do find the property is very open to the elements. In all seasons the wind sweeps across our yard, shaking the house and sending snow and dirt flying. To combat these issues and provide some privacy I decided we needed trees. Trees will provide wind resistance, screen out the road and neighbours, provide food and shelter to wildlife and beauty. Last spring I visited our local native nursery, MacPhail Woods, and purchased and planted 25 native trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, as seen in my last post, not all of these have survived. A frustrating setback but I am determined to visit MacPhail nursery again this spring and continue with my plan to add some woody plants to this property.
|Yellow birch is native to PEI and suited to the local conditions|
As much as I love native plants I also love exotic flowers as well. In addition to the meadow I'm also planning a garden area that is it's exact opposite. I'm hoping to create a small oasis behind the garage where hollyhocks can intermingle with plume poppy, hostas and catalpa. In my mind's eye I see big leaves and bright colours. It will be a spot for the plant collector in me.
As these plantings are done and begin to grow I'm hoping that wildlife will move in and enjoy the hidden spaces that will be created. Already I can see some positive transitions taking place. Yesterday while I was walking around and enjoying the spring sunshine I came across this guy.
I knew the feral cats were occupying the upstairs portion of the garage but I have long suspected we had residents downstairs as well. Turns out I was right. I wasn't the only one who decided to get a dose of sunshine. Two skunks were wandering about the yard, digging in the grass looking for a tasty meal.
|Digging next to an old tree trunk for grubs|
The skunks have been in hibernation and are likely quite hungry after a long winter. They certainly looked quite skinny and were very busy digging. Too busy to notice me snapping their photo.