Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Oh My! Forty-five days and counting!

I have such good blog readers - they start poking me when it has been too long since I blogged. And the poking started a few weeks ago. By this week, the pokes were leaving bruises, and the thousands of photos and tales piling up were screaming "Share us!"  Why the long absence? Have I really been that busy?  In the words of Henry David Thoreau, 

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” 

Well, let's see.  I've done some amazing hikes - lots of them, to lots of new places.  I've looked after a friend's cats, and next week I'm looking after horses.  I've looked after the sanctuary for several days while the owner was away.  I had visits from my daughter and son-in-law, and from my friends Del and Mark and MollyDawg and Lady May (King's family).  I've done my usual volunteer work.  And I've taken thousands, possibly ten thousand, photographs. Can you imagine how many photos I took just while staying at the sanctuary surrounded by nearly fifty animals of ten different species?  

Oh, and I completely renovated the back yard.  Well, I hired someone to help with a few of the heavier or more skilled aspects, but I did most of it myself.  And I was hell-bent on getting it completed before the really hot weather arrived.  You may remember I had a major drainage job done a couple of years ago, installing a rock pit and drainage pipes to reduce the flooding that occurred every winter.  Then, the same year,  I added a bed next to the shed, and some raised boxes for square-foot gardening on the other side of the yard (an experiment which turned out more costly than buying the produce at the local market gardens, especially when Eddie delighted in helping his greedy-dog self to the peas and cucumbers and squashes and beans, and the raised beds started slipping down into the neighbour's yard). 

Earlier work on the back yard - 2013/2014

So by the end of this winter, things were looking rather sad.  

Before photos, April 2016

And in the course of five weeks, I salvaged as many plants as I could, obtained a few more bushes and trees and fast-growing perennials from generous friends, reduced the grass area by two thirds, brought in five yards of bark mulch and three yards of road mulch, had a retaining wall built in the back corner where the property was sliding into the neighbour's yard, added some landscape ties, and transformed the yard to something that I hope will bloom and grow and within a couple of years provide the naturescape that I miss now that my ocean view is gone. It was challenging working around drainage pipes, sewer pipes, and rock pits, but already, I have a plethora of birds calling my renovated yard home. 

View from back porch

Looking from east side of yard 

Little garden beside shed has grown well since 2014
- though I added a bit more to it this year.

Once the new butterfly bush and maple grow,
the ugly condo will no longer bug me.
(I've photoshopped what those two trees will look like in a couple of years, based on growth rates of these species elsewhere in my yard)
More hummers and sparrows than ever before, as well as swallows and finches - and one gorgeous Merlin! 

Of course, I didn't stop there.  Having watched my hired help build one retaining wall, I decided to tackle a second one myself, on the side patio where the neighbour's yard sometimes fell into mine.  I forgot to take a photo before replacing the flower boxes, but I was pretty happy with how it turned out overall. That patio extends from my dining room and has always been one of my summer joys with brightly coloured flowers and winter woes with mud. 

New retaining wall to address the 2' drop between neighbour's path and my side patio.

Plants have a bit of growing to do still!

And now, because I keep telling friends "I'll blog about that", I really better get back to editing some of the many photos I've taken the past forty-five days so I can share those hikes and animals and visits with you.  Thanks for your patience.  

PS:  Ms Mitzi says she is doing fine, and Allie says "Pfffft!".   


Anonymous said...

Finally!!!!! I have missed your blogs and am so happy you have given us one. Can't wait for the rest. Thank you.
PS. The yard looks amazing.

Marie said...

Jean, Welcome back! Your yard looks smashing! lots of hard work and expense but well worth it. I look forward to seeing more pictures as the flowers and bushes flourish. Pets for Mitzi and Allie!!

Gesine McHarg said...

Your Garden looks delightful Jean. Have been missing your blogs. Wish I could grow pretty flowers and things, but we live on the east coast of Fife in Scotland and the wind howls a lot of the time and it's often very cold even in summer. We grow some pretty bushes, but have to be very selective. I actually managed to keep our olive tree alive for the last 4 years up here. That is only because we wrap the crown in protective wrapping in the winter.
Enjoy your gardening.

Anonymous said...

Yes we missed your blogs. But you have been very busy as we can see. So you are forgiven.


ruth said...

So glad you were good busy and not sick!
I got a bit worried there...
Gorgeous work in your garden!

Barb Hodges said...

So we've all been worried out in the blogsphere, wondering what you were up to . Glad to see you were hard at work, that garden looks amazing.