Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Big Bloomin' Project

Every spring I get inspired to plant flowers. Georgia is breathtakingly beautiful in the spingtime. It starts in late February or early March. My sweet Georgia Blues burst forth and cover the ground with tiny purple flowers, the creeping flox appears on the side of the roads, the bright yellow forsythias start to show up -- and show off -- in people's yards, and you've forgotten how many Bradford pear trees there are until they are all covered with white blooms! That starts the cycle. Following these early bloomers in rapid succession are the cherry trees (Conyers, GA, has more than Washington, D.C.), jonquils, dianthis, clematis and all this builds to a crescendo with the grand finale being the dogwoods and azaleas. It's like a slow-motion fire works display in pastels.  And I want all of it. In my yard. 

This year I was especially excited after seeing Joy's garden in Eatonton and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens when we went with Bob and Joan. I also took the girls over to see my friend, Gail's, back yard which always makes my jaw drop. She and her husband have turned their sloping, woodsy back yard into a shade garden. That doesn't begin to describe it, though. It's more like a wonderful oasis of nature. In the summer you can forget the heat of the sun and all the time you can forget that you're in a neighborhood. It's a magical world of its own.  (Her hostas could be a little bigger, though, don't ya' think?)

 So after going to all these places...all of them in Georgia...I decided that we, too, could have a beautiful yard.  Only trouble with that is that we have TERRIBLE, AWFUL clay soil and lots of shade.  But I was determined.  Gail had said that after years of frustration facing similar obstacles, they have decided that raised bed gardening is the way to go and they are enjoying vegetable gardening again -- like they did at their home in the country in Illinois.  Following their advice, we put in a couple of raised bed boxes for tomatoes, peppers, etc. and they were looking good.  So I wondered why we couldn't do the same thing with a raised flower bed.  We chose a particularly ugly section in the back yard where nothing will grow and laid out a shape with garden hose and rope.  That looked like a plan, so we started digging.

And when I say "we" I mean it. I helped.  I just took time out to take pictures of the progress from time to time.  And progress was slow.  It's a good thing we had cool spring temps because we worked hard at it.  Sometimes Jerry would get the pointy shovel in there thinking we'd hit a rock...but it was just the "soil" we were dealing with.  Ugh!

But we kept at it and pretty soon it was time to lay the wall blocks.  The bottom tier had to be set into the ground to keep them from shifting, so that's why we needed to do all the digging.  But this part got a little exciting because it actually started to look like we were making progress.

At this point it was still mostly a dream in my head, but Jerry was starting to get the idea.  After all the stones were in place the next step was to bring in loads and loads of compost.  Hot, steamy, stinky compost.  After all, the whole idea is that this area of ground won't grow anything.  It was hot and smelly work.  I did NOT help with this part of it.  But I felt sorry for Jerry and the kid who was delivering and helping shovel out 4 dump-truck loads -- plus one last load in our pick-up the next day.  I kept bringing them cold water and telling them how great it was going to be.  But rest assured, I did not wear a cheerleader outfit.

So the final...and fun...part of the whole deal was putting in the plants.  I'd been buying plants and planning in my head where they were going to go.  There would be a spot for sun worshipers, and area for those shady characters and a middle section where the easy going bloomers would feel at home.  I had to keep pampering them in their pots longer than I had thought I would because we were having a lot of rain and the compost delivery date kept getting put back.  But finally it was time to plant!  What a joy to take a plant out of the pot and put it in some soil without the use of a jackhammer!  I told Jerry this was my new playground.  I will be able to add and move plants at will and the weeds will slip right out.  It was a very happy day.

I'm so thankful that Jerry is willing to follow me down these rabbit holes.  He can't really ever visualize what I'm talking about until it gets done.  So for him to put all that time, effort and sweat equity into something that he has no idea how it's going to turn out (and sometimes I'm not so sure when we're in the middle of it) is something I really appreciate.  And after all the hard work, we are both very pleased with how it looks.  And there were even enough blocks left over to make a much smaller raised bed around the mailbox down at the road.  Can you say, "curb appeal"?