Where it’s at

Garden dreams and fulfillment

Wed, 04/10/2024 - 12:45pm

I’m not quite sure which Rodale Press organic gardening book my first husband John and I used as our “bible,” planning our first veg garden in 1976. I suspect, after looking at the Rodale Press list of publications, it was most likely 1975 “Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening.” It was hefty, and the info in there, including images (some drawn), was priceless. That garden – far larger than the one I’m planning now – spanned the back of a three or four-car garage. It was hard work digging and prepping the soil before we could even think of planting, but we were young and had energy and determination to spare.

This year’s earthy adventure will be a circular veg-herb-edible flower garden. It will be a perfect circle since it will be where my granddaughter Xavi’s trampoline is now. And if it the wind, snow, and rain ends, we (yes, I have recruits in mind) can get it down by mid-month. Xavi’s basketball hoop, graciously given to her (thank you, again, Mr. Barter) last year, is where her attention is focused. Although, she sure did entertain us doing some fabulous jumps and tumbles over the years.

Back to my new garden. There are many resources for gardeners, beginning with Conley’s Garden Center. Mark Conley has decades of experience with trees, shrubs, flowers ... you name it. If you need advice about planting, feeding, pruning … he’s a good person to call. There are also numerous businesses dedicated to the creation, care and planting of gardens in our region – just look at the ads in the Boothbay Register/Wiscasset Newspaper.

Fortunately, Knox Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation and the UMaine Cooperative Extension online have all the information I need for this year’s model, pre-season. And yet, I will visit our Friends of the Library used book store when it opens in search of a Rodale gardening book of yore. And, because this will be a small garden, I’ve had to really think about what I want most: spinach and romaine for my leafy lovelies, one cherry tomato plant and one plum; green beans and garlic. You can never have too much garlic – kinda like thyme ... (heheheh – no, really...). Herbs will be the better part of this garden: thyme, lemon thyme (super ground cover, too), sage, rosemary, yarrow, mint, lavender, chamomile, mugwort, and lemon balm. Edible flowers: daisies and nasturtium (we sometimes garnished dinner plates at Maxfield’s with nasturtium – some of you out there remember Maxfield’s Harbour High, I’m sure).

I’ll also be painting some flat stones to divide the sections with magical symbols. Planting will be during a waxing or full moon – most likely during May’s Full Flower Moon … followed by dancing round and round to raise energy, literally from the ground up, to tickle those roots. I’m feeling an extended Beltane (May 1) celebration this year!

’Course, I can’t forget about the adorable and endlessly entertaining birds who come for two or three squares a day. Native flowers, herbs and shrubs are the best way to go – invasive species can take over land crowding out native varieties. Just attend an informational event held by the Knox Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation group to find out what may be in your yard that needs to be out of it! After being at such an event at Boothbay Region Land Trust a few years ago, I have continued wrangling with a certain vine, a flora version of a boa constrictor, that tightly winds itself around tree trunks slowly moving upward on the tree. I’ve included a photo with this column of the extensive damage done to one tree in my yard.

Speaking of trees, despite my life-long love/passion for the willow tree, I cannot plant one where I am. According to The Spruce site, its root system can “stretch wider than the tree is tall!” And, like other sources online say, they need to be 50 feet from a home and underground utilities for sewer, water, and power lines. However…(Laaaaaaaaah!) Imagine light shining down on the new garden spot from above here) I did find someone on Etsy (of course) with cuttings that can be grown in pots. I received three cuttings and two are still going strong – or as strong as they can when you have a cat who likes to chew on the leaves. Check out the photos with this piece. Note to self: get some super big pots! No, I actually bought three barrels of varying sizes, the largest of which is for my larger willow.

I thoroughly cleared the back yard – so much invasive vine-like growths wrapping around everything, and major overgrowth of forsythias that, as I can see now, were blocking new tiger lilies finally rising to the light! This area I will be heavily mulching around the flora I want to have there. Along with the rugosas, coral bells, black-eyed Susan, hosta, coneflower, Russian sage, mallow, wormwood, yarrow, comfrey, ferns, yarrow and who -knows-what-else.

Yes it all looks just glorious in my mind ...

OK garden lovers, let’s get out there and make those designs ’n dreams a reality ... our personal, somewhat private places to dream, relax, read, write, sip a cold cocktail ... hang out with our pups, to savor summer and its delightful affect on the senses and spirit.