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Changing Gardens

June 10, 2016

As most Garden Mentors clients and blog readers know, spring has been a time of big change for me — including changing gardens. Usually in June I’m writing articles about transplanting tomatoes, harvesting garlic scapes and what’s stinking up the garden with its fly-attracting bloom. This year my June gardening focus has completely reset. My well-studied garden in Seattle is now in the hands of others, and my new garden north of Seattle in Skagit County is challenging me with all sorts of opportunities — some welcome and some not-so welcome.

Deer in the garden

Wild animals like deer are abundant in our new garden. Raccoons, rabbits, chipmunks, field mice, moles and voles are just some of the mammals scurrying about. Lots of vultures, hawks, herons, ducks, hummingbirds, cedar waxwings and other birds make our garden their home too.

Because we now live in the country on a couple of wild fauna-filled acres, my tomato patch is growing in containers on a deck.

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And, because we were so wrapped up in all things buying-selling-moving-houses I didn’t start my tomatoes from seed this year. Instead, I picked up some healthy starts from our local co-op. It may seem ridiculous to grow just a few veggies in pots on a deck when I’ve got acres to work with, but as a seasoned pro, I know that biting off projects in realistic chunks is the best way not to get too overwhelmed. So, a couple of tomatoes it is this year. (And maybe a cucumber, but I can plant those a little later.)

Preparing garden bed

Once he pulled away the abundant landscape fabric, Bob put a beatdown on the clay with his fantastic IsoCore Fiskars pick-axe (provided to Garden Mentors by Fiskars for free to trial; we have received no compensation for using this axe or mentioning it in this post).

We did bring along one very special tree from our old garden. It was root pruned while still dormant last winter to help it make the transition, which we ended up having to do in 90F weather last week. That isn’t ideal! But, so far so good — despite the fact that our new garden is carpeted in layers of beauty bark deposited over superfluous landscape fabric over wet, clay soil. We raked away the beauty bark, peeled back the trashy fabric and pick-axed the soil to prepare it for planting our tree. Once it was snugged into the ground, we watered diligently, and so far our crape myrtle is standing tall and turgid.

waterlily blossoms

Fragrant waterlily blooms from our new pond.

Since the days were so darn hot during our first week in our new garden, I pulled on a pair of waders and took a slog through one of our new ponds. It is spring fed, filled with tadpoles and croaking tree frogs, and the waterlilies are spectacular. Unfortunately, its bottom is laden with the detritus of spent lilies and alder leaves from years gone by. Since it is a clear, flowing system with a decent balance of flora and fauna, we’ve decided to wait until autumn to dredge it. (And it really does need dredging!) But, no need to upset Kermit in his summer habitat right now.

Living in the country means lots of work — from mowing a couple of acres to keeping blackberries at bay and the critters from taking over everything in sight. Legacy issues mean getting on an arborist’s schedule to evaluate and manage a few struggling, mature trees that need cleaning and perhaps clearing. Prior gardeners’ liberal use of landscape fabric everywhere means we need to focus our energy on removing that trash to help reduce run-off issues and hopefully give new life to a number of gorgeous trees whose roots are tangled up in that wasteful mess. We have wasp nests to abate and lots of renovation pruning ahead. And, of course, weeding. That never ends. (And that’s just what needs attention in the garden!)

country trail walk

Our new neighborhood walk — private, fragrant & filled with wildlife & views

But, at beginning of each day, we are blessed to meditate in an Asian-influence garden adjacent to a lively lily pond. When we break for lunch, a quick couple of miles on the nearby bay trail is rejuvenating. And, at the end of the day, there’s nothing like returning to the trail, finding the perfect sea-side bench and watching the sunset in the western summer sky.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported us, fed us, dug in and cheered us on during this time of changing gardens and changing homes. We’re through the most challenging parts of moving, but we’re still in a very transitional time. Your caring support makes all the difference!

-Robin

5 Comments

  1. Dad says:

    Love it!

  2. Danita Day says:

    I’m excited to see how you transform this beautiful property with your personal touch. I know it will be fantastic. I’m hoping garden tours are a future possibility. ?.

  3. Thanks for the encouraging words Danita. We do hope to offer tours to our clients and friends in the future, but it’ll be a while. We bought a fixer, so fixing is the first order of business. Cheers!

  4. Karin Peterson says:

    What a beautiful new homestead! It is a wonderful to follow your progress and I wish I could help you “fix”!
    Lots of love,
    Aunt Karin

  5. Karin, Thanks for sharing your love of our new place. We would love to have you join us here. I know you’d love it! XO

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(You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors but don’t cost you anything extra. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)