Spring has sprung (Part Deux)

This is part two of a newspaper article about my garden that appeared in the North Portland Press.The first installment was posted on bLog-oMotives here.

Joy Creek Nursery will be totally redesigning the back garden this year. Jeff and Ed plan to install French doors off their bedroom and build a deck - next to the recent hot tub addition - overlooking the garden. An excess of concrete will be removed and some replaced by the same pavers as in the front of the house. A stone walkway will replace one existing sidewalk. An arbor or pergola will be built adjacent to the garage and part of it will be covered to allow a year-round barbecue area for Ed. Plans include growing grapes and a wisteria on the structure.

Currently the back yard plantings include begonias, clematis, roses, honeysuckle, hostas, grasses, hydrangeas, fuchsias, a star jasmine, helebores, African daisies, dahlias, heuchera, primroses, datura, calla lilies, ornamental fruit-bearing blueberries, crocosmia, alstroemeria, epimedium, pulmonaria and many others. Many of the shade garden plants are very happy under the lilac or pink dogwood that were in the back yard originally.

How would you best describe your garden?
Eclectic and a color theorist’s nightmare.

What are the uses for your garden?
The biggest benefit of the garden is Jeff’s therapy from working at home. A plaque in the backyard reads “Play in the Dirt” and that is the best escape from working at home. The garden is also a great place to entertain and brings a great deal of enjoyment to neighbors and people just passing by. The vegetable garden provides a great deal of food throughout the year, including greens during the winter months.

How about maintenance and upkeep?
As mentioned above, the upkeep is a form of therapy. However, it is really kept at a minimum. Gravel paths were lined with a weed barrier prior to installation. The small gravel on the median and bed above the wall helps retain heat and moisture, while keeping weeds at a minimum. Compost is put on most of the beds a couple times a year and also keeps weeds at bay, or makes removal easy.

What about water usage and watering cost?
The use of timed irrigation system and drip irrigation equipment throughout most of the garden keep costs to a minimum. Most of the plants in the median and at the foreground of the front garden are somewhat Mediterranean and don’t require a lot of water. The gravel and compost bed covering also retain a lot of moisture.

Do you have tips for other gardeners?
Have fun. Don’t be afraid to experiment. There are no stupid questions when needing additional gardening information. Attend free classes and seminars offered by local nurseries or gardening organizations. Don’t be afraid to plant things wherever you want—if it doesn’t work out, in most cases you can move the plant somewhere else, at the appropriate time of season. Read gardening books and magazines, and attend gardening shows. Prior to moving into their house Jeff and Ed had not even lived in a residence that allowed for a garden.

Favorite part of your garden? Gardening?
A favorite aspect of the garden is that it literally has things blooming year-round. The compliments and comments of people passing by are always appreciated a great deal. Photographers for major national gardening magazines have photographed the garden for possible future stories and that is very gratifying. Ed enjoys the practical use of his vegetable garden. Jeff, as a graphic designer, appreciates the creativity of gardening and the therapeutic aspects.

Where do you shop for plants, bushes, trees, etc.?
Knowing the owners of Joy Creek Nursery in Scappoose, having worked with them over the years, and with their involvement in the design and installation of most of our garden, the vast majority of our plants still come from their nursery. Almost all of our annuals come from Marbott’s on NE Columbia Boulevard. Very seldom do we buy any plants from area grocery stores or home improvement stores. The plants are just not of the same quality as the nurseries we frequent and often don’t thrive—or, in some cases, don’t even survive.

What’s up with the little signs?
When the garden was first planted people would often come to the door to ask what specific plants were, or leave notes on the front door with plant identification questions. On occasion this would happen several times a day. The interruptions were hampering Jeff’s ability to work from his home office. The plant identification signs have helped immensely—and people will often be out front, with a notepad and pencil, writing down the names of various plants. Cars driving down the street literally stop in the middle of the road. People come with their cameras, and sometimes their landscape designers, to document what is going on in the garden.

Note: Every so often, throughout the rest of the gardening year, I will post updates from my therapy sessions in my garden. I hope others are having fun "playing in the dirt."

Check out the redesign and renovation of my backyard garden in How does your garden grow?

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

1 comment:

morealyera said...

Wow, great tips! (Hot tub? I'm jealous.)

My garden is still fairly small, but I am hoping to expand a little bit each year. It sure is theraputic for me too, and it is really nice to be able to go out at dinner time and select fresh vegetables.

Thanks for sharing, Jeff!