Sunday my dad came over & helped me finish planting my new garden! I am SO excited!!!
Let me give you some background on my love of all things garden. Growing up, my parents were the master DIY landscaped makeover people, WAY before it was cool (like, the early 90’s!). I remember the first house they bought. It was a typical, lower-ish middle class neighborhood, ranch style houses, over half looked pretty neglected. The yard was a weird triangle shape that went back REALLY far and ended in a point. It was at the end of a block that was enclosed with two curvy streets & was the only house on that side. None of the yards were square & ours took up what was leftover from all the houses around it.
I remember during the final years of elementary school, my parents would take me & my sister up to the mountains to gather landscaping materials. There are lots of places here in Colorado where it’s ok to do that kind of stuff. One of my favorite things to do is cut down my Christmas trees, but that’s another story. There is a large rock slide outside of Empire that you can take rocks from or they’d hit up the forests where you can cut firewood. They’d pick up rocks, gnarled stumps, bark, branches, pine cones, pine needles, you name it! I remember one time my sister & I were forced (FORCED I TELL YOU!!) to strip the needles from dead pine trees. That sucked. I know I had gloves on but I am sure I complained the whole time!
I also remember a long standing family joke about the trailer we used to haul rocks. My dad built it before I was born so it’s pretty gnarly, huge & basically indestructible. My parents were building a dry creek bed in the back yard (of that first house) that started about two-thirds of the way back from the house & ran down to the point at the far end of the yard. So they needed river rocks. Lots, lots, lots of rocks.We used to go up to Clear Creek & pick out river rocks. We’d load up the trailer with at least a ton or two at a time. I have good memories of doing that. I remember playing in the creek & picking out rocks. I’d find little things on the ground or in the stream & wander around poking stuff. It was that fun kid time, being alone outdoors in your own world, that made up the better part of my childhood. Anyways, I’d throw a few rocks in the trailer but my dad would do the majority of it. When the trailer started getting full, we’d ask how many rocks he wanted, one feather or two? That was the joke. Ok, let me explain it. Rocks are heavy, really heavy. If you load two tons of rocks, that is even heavier. But by calling two tons of rocks two feathers, somehow my dad made it seem like it was no big deal, just a handful of feathers to him. That’s the perspective he put on most of the work we did – just a little bit to do, no big deal. When in reality, we were stripping dead pine trees by the trailer full & loading tons of rocks.
Anyways, they completely overhauled that old crappy yard & turned it into a beautiful private escape that reminded me of the high country. They also had a garden & grew lots of fresh veggies. They moved, about the time I started high school, & turned their new yard into something even more incredible. Their backyard is AMAZING! My dad built a raised wood deck. There’s a flagstone patio next to it that surrounds a pond. The pond itself it amazing. It’s almost three feet deep, about five feet long, three feet wide. There is a hill on the far side that raises up into a waterfall. It’s built from giant boulders perched on top of each other, topped by a huge slab that fills up & overflows into the pond (all hauled, places, sweated & cemented into place by Dad). There’s cattails, lily pads, Japanese iris & all kinds of water plants. My favorite thing about the pond is the fish & the tadpole! Behind the pond is the fire pit (also built by Dad). Going farther back in the yard, there is the orchard. The orchard is new this year. They planted blackberries, moved the raspberry patch there & set up a vineyard for their sad grape plants that are much happier now & not desperately trying to cling to the fence for dear life. Three kinds of apple trees are planted around the vines. At the end of the orchard is a flagstone path that passes under a 10 foot long trellis (hand-made) & ends at a shade garden. Full of perennials & flowers, it is one of the more eye catching displays. The path continues on through ornamental grasses, various flowers & shrubs, and finally brings you to the garden! Before I explain the garden I’ll just rush the tour by saying the path starts up again on the other side, passes through another shade garden, the herb garden, goes past the strawberry patch & finally comes all the way back around to the deck.
The garden is rad. In the corner is a giant apricot tree that I planted when I was little. I ate an apricot when I was about ten years old. I saved the pit by wrapping it in wet paper towels, putting the whole wad in a sealed plastic baggie & sticking it in the bottom drawer in the fridge. We actually forgot about it & found it when we were moving from the old house to the new house. It had started to germinate so my mom planted it in a pot & it grew! Once it grew big enough, we hardened it off outside & transplanted it to the garden. It’s been growing ever since the first summer we moved in there, over fifteen years now! Anyways, it’s never made any fruit. But it’s still cool that I grew it from an apricot I ate when I was little. There’s also a sour cherry tree. My mom makes jelly from the cherries & it is DELICIOUS. There are three raised beds & a giant compost pile. They plant flowers around the border of the garden & it’s very lovely.
In the mid-90’s they won the Rocky Mountain News Home & Garden contest. There was an article in the living section featuring them & their garden. It was very cool to see them recognized like that!
Having said all that, now you can see I have very big shoes to fill, with dirt. And flowers. Luckily my dad is willing to help. He came by last month & built the raised bed. It sat there, sad & empty for a few weeks. I know it’s a late start, but it’s my first garden. It’s a lot to figure out! Besides, there was a wicked huge hail storm last week & it destroyed everything anyone planted. So I would have probably had to replant most of the stuff anyways if I would have done it last month.
Here’s the bed:
And next to it, Dad built me a whiskey barrel to grow tomatoes in.
I plan on making some small square plots on either side to grow zucchinis, squash & anything else that’s too big for the bed. At some point I’d also like to fill in the space around it all with gravel, stones, etc. But that’s not in the budget right now! I am thinking of planting some flowers by the out of control hedge. I have lots of seeds, just not a plan.
All in all, I think it’s off to a good start!