A Whole Lotta Weeding Going On
I realized last year that I let the weeds get the better of me. I was new to the property and didn't know what would appear in the flower beds so I waited for several months before doing any weeding. By the time I decided it was safe to weed the plants were as big as I was and their removal was a losing battle. Take the knot garden (that's what I've decided to call it now. It was previously known as that big ass rectangle in the middle of the yard). It started out like this last spring.
and by summer it had become this
Pulling 5 foot tall goldenrod was impossible. Although I did manage to make some headway and cleared out two triangles.
|Two front triangles were weeded|
I'm no artist but you get the idea. It's meant to be a very formal bed with rock paths and angled beds. This spring, before it gets any uglier, I decided to weed and mulch the same two front triangles so I don't have to repeat that again. I also started weeding the first diamond. Why only one? Because this garden holds a backbreaking task that haunts me in my dreams. Under each triangle and diamond there is landscaping fabric. Weeds and plants alike have grown over it, under it and through it. Removing this fabric is like neurosurgery. Exacto knives and scissors have to be employed. There is time and energy only for one diamond at this juncture. I have considered clearing the pathway as well but mostly I think this will just be cutting down weeds as opposed to removing them. No landscaping fabric was used in the paths but under those rocks are two sheets of plastic. Equally or possibly even more frustrating than the fabric.
Oh yes, and I found the end of the hose. Well, sort of. The story is that last year I noticed a hose snaking around the rocks and tried to figure out where it ended. Buried under weeds it was never found. So this spring that was it, I was finding the end. Here it is.
Somewhat as I suspected. There is no end. Instead it goes into the ground. But where does it come out? Who the heck knows? We've been here a year and a half now and I've yet to find the other end of that hose. So I cut it off. After spending several winters out in the elements I doubt this hose is much good anymore anyway (in fact I can see the voles attacked it thinking it was food, there are little gnaw marks ornamenting it's length). Now it's being used to mark out new beds.
The side bed (this really needs a better name) was also weeded and mulched. Again, the premise was, get the weeds while they're small so you don't have to go through this again in a month when they can fight back.
This bed is mainly dominated by bleeding hearts and I've thrown in the odd plant just to see how it would do. I'm reluctant to take any real steps to occupy this bed as exterior work needs to be done on the house and any plants would likely get trampled in the course of it. In the meantime I consider keeping the weeds at bay the best compromise.
And finally the entrance bed was weeded. This bed started life last year looking like this.
A bit of clearing got done and plant purchases were dumped here for lack of a better place to put them. Eventually some expansion happened but not enough to suit me.
We spent almost a whole summer trying to expand this bed and still didn't get it finished. This year I want better results. The goal is to increase this bed by at least another third by renting a sod cutter. In anticipation of a larger bed I've begun removing some of the nicer plants from the knot garden and placing them in this bed. Bell flowers and jacob's ladder have made the switch and when the hostas appear they will be moved as well.
The Back Breakers
Big beds require big rocks. Lucky me we've got rocks to spare. Last spring I found that the hedgerow was full of large stones, likely from an old foundation. I thought they would be fantastic to use in the beds but when I went looking for them in mid-summer they were buried in this.
Good luck finding anything in there. So now that the plants are all dead it was time to move stones. Hubby was enlisted for this chore as some of these are a two person job.
I'm not entirely sure how they will be used but I'm thinking of a) as a walkway through the garden beds; b) stepping stones for access to large beds; or c) building up areas of the beds and creating some different levels. No matter what I do, these stones need to be moved now as they will become inaccessible very quickly.
Hubby was also enlisted for that other annual back breaking chore. Tree planting.
There are several pockets of trees on our property and small seedlings can be found in these areas. Thus far we have dug up 16 small trees from these pockets and redistributed them to more open spaces. Eventually I would love to see a windbreak of trees along our roadside and filling in our yard. The trees moved included two maples of unknown heritage, an elderberry, white spruce, white birch, red osier dogwood and what I believe is a grey birch.
Bits and Bobs
The compost has finally thawed and I'm turning, turning every chance I get. I'd love to get my hands on some compost for new flower and veggie beds. Not to mention the pile next to the bin has grown to catastrophic proportions due to excess sawdust from hubby's shop and ashes from our wood boiler. It would be nice to get this extra material into the bins so it's slightly less messy looking in that area.
And finally. Remember those sweet little seedlings that were planted not so long ago. Well they're all grown up now and beginning to make their way into the great outdoors.
The process of hardening off has started. Presently these plants are spending a half hour a day in the great outdoors and I'll be slowly building the time up from there. Some of the plants have done well and some, as you might notice, are complete wimps. Of the twenty tomatoes at least 4 can't stand on their own two feet. Once again, thank goodness for overseeding as I can remove these weak plants and keep the strong sturdy ones instead.