Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hosta La Vista, Baby! (Part 1)

It has been almost seven years since I decided something had to be done with the gardens at the Field House. Pretty much everwhere I looked, the beds were either not there, not big enough, or not planted quite properly. The only real problem was I had absolutely no clue how to do things properly! I really had no experience gardening, and I couldn't even remember simple plant names, like Hosta or Sedum. Basically, I was a complete idiot!

But I had a shovel, and I knew how to dig, and I was eager to make something nice, and I was willing to ask silly questions of Katherine, my wife: "so Hosta's are for shade, right honey?" I was also interested in reading about plants, so I found a few books, learned a bit, then grabbed my shovel, and set out to work.

My first experimental site was the back of the property against the fence. I wish I had a before picture, because it was pretty pathetic. In the spring and summer of 2002, what little vegetation growing back there I dug under, and then I started heaping absolutely everything organinc that I could find in big piles under the spruce trees. It really didn't matter, but I dumped cones, chopped branches, dirt, compost, leaves, and lawn cuttings, and just let it rot.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Trees, Trees, Trees, And Yes, Even More Trees

The property at the Field House is quite literally surrounded by trees. We have six rather gothic, foreboding Norway Spruce along the front walk, a Colorado Blue Spruce on the lawn behind, a large three trunked Birch near the front corner of the house, a Mountain Ash, Jack Pine, and Black Walnut in various locations in the rear yard, and no less than eighteen White Spruce along the rear and right property lines. These trees remain even after I felled a Linden, a Manitoba Maple, and three poorly located and leaning White Spruces over the last three years. Consequently, the garden has an abundance of shade!

The shade also comes in a number of varieties, including partial shade, dappled shade, and moderate to full shade depending on relative location to the closest trees. Interestingly enough, the property was advertised as having beautiful gardens when we purchased it, and although some of the gardens were nice, for the most part they were not well thought out, and there were numerous examples of plants located inappropriately. Roughly one quarter of the garden area can be considered part to full sun, with the remaining three quarters having some kind of shade as described above. It was funny then to see Hostas in some of the sunny bright patches, and Sedums in the darker shade!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What's In A Name

Sometime last summer, after digging up a mammoth Hosta, heaving it out of the ground and splitting it up, then replanting the resulting 'offspring', I finally stepped back to have a look at my work. Not particularly shabby, thought I, as I looked at the formerly unkempt space at the back of our garden beneath the spruce trees. What several years before was a rather pathetic little collection of plants tucked in among the trunks at the fence line, was now a broad curving expanse of slightly more formal garden, with about sixty separate Hostas, the majority of which were of around six common types, and two or three each of about ten other different varieties.

For some reason I was thinking of an old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, where Calvin dreams he is a private eye......"Let me introduce you to Mr. Smith, a friend of mine with a place close to my heart... a bit down, and to the left actually." our hero spoke, undoubtedly with a gravelly drawl. I liked the play on words, and in keeping with the subject matter of the cartoon, the expression "shady character" jumped into my head. Well that was it, the garden certainly had more than its fair share of shade, and with the house, property, and trees, its character.