No garden "tinkle box" for now

Since my partner Ed and I moved into our North Portland home over a decade ago our garden has been a constant work-in-progress - and my best therapy in escaping from my home studio. Last year a major garden renovation took place with the removal of the last bit of lawn, the installation of a new patio in front of the house, the creation of an area that will eventually become a finished outdoor kitchen, and more.

Just over a year ago things looked a little torn up in our back yard (above), as a crew from Joy Creek Nursery extended the patio and formed new flower beds. Since then a pile of leftover sand has marked where I hoped a basalt pillar water feature would be installed - with a steel "tinkle box" buried below ground level to amplify the sound of the flowing water. The entire fountain/dribbler project was estimated to cost about $1000.

With other house projects taking priority - and there are always other house projects with a 1929 home - and the need to reign in unnecessary spending like everyone else, the water feature was easily eliminated from our household budget this spring. I was tired of staring at a pile of sand outside of the back door - even though neighborhood cats were enjoying the makeshift "kitty litter box" in the middle of our garden.

This past weekend, when we actually had some spring-like weather for a few hours, I was out shoveling sand and distributing it around the yard. I found a few appropriate rocks in the supply piled on the driveway and placed them in the bed. Some bare-root plants - displaced by the recently planted aucuba - required a new home, as did the beautiful Brad Messinger pottery birdbath. Throughout the garden some "editing" of overcrowded beds was necessary, as was the dividing of other plants.

A few hostas, a black mondo grass, a hardy gardenia, and a fuchsia all found their way to the new garden space. They were joined by a black fern, a saxifraga, a Veronica ground-cover, an ornamental thistle and some later-blooming bulbs, including my favorite calla lily, Flame. One of our plastic squirrels and a piece of frog garden art made by Ed's father even found a place in the bed.

In a period of just over two hours I transformed the naked space (above) - without spending a cent. Actually, I felt as if I'd just saved myself the $1000 it would have cost for my water feature. In the afternoon I planned to make use of a couple nursery gift certificates to fill the bed in with the addition of some colorful annuals. However, with snow and freezing temperatures still in the forecast, I think I'll wait until spring finally decides to hang around for a while. The electrical outlet - in part for for the use of my PowerBook when out in my "outdoor office" - still needs to be installed, and plant growth will soon fill in the new garden bed. Still, the view from the kitchen window (above right) was greatly improved in the short period of time I was playing in the dirt.

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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