Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Breakfast at Epiphany's

You may want to grab a favorite beverage and settle in.  This may take some time.

This morning, while having breakfast on the deck, I had a couple of epiphanies.

First, a confession.  In my last post I might have come off like I know what I'm doing.  And sometimes I do.  But only about 15%.  The rest is mostly luck.  Oh I take full credit for bed layout and hardscape stuff like fences, hedges, trees, etc.  The stuff I referred to in the post:  Wax on, Wax off  - the table setting.

But the stuff that makes the gardens ultimately a feast for the eye (the dinner on the table, if you will) is usually unplanned, happenstance, not-what-I-meant-but-hey-I'll-take-the-credit, and luck.  And timing.  And more luck.

Like the crabapple bed:  Luck AND time.  It took the past polar winter to kill off much in that bed and 5 years for the trees to grow taller and dense.  I was ecstatic when, in May,  I  realized I could create the shade bed I originally planned!   Until then the bed was never 'right' and I had to make do.

Lots of things bit the dust over the polar winter: lavenders, agastache, the rest of the mums,  little 'fill in' stuff.  I had a lot of angst at first, then I realized what I also had a lot of new canvas to work with.

Fortunately, I didn't jump right in with a can of paint!  I resisted the urge to repopulate.  Instead I worked on hardscape to keep me from shooting myself in the foot. (See, I DO learn from my mistakes!)   I had the privacy fence extension to deal with.  The swing bed expansion project.  Family matters to contend with. Things that couldn't be done in one swell foop, but had to be worked on gradually.

In the meantime, I'd sit and think.  And this morning, between the 1st cup of tea and the 2nd, I had an epiphany.  You know it's a really good one when you freeze in mid-motion and catch your breath.  Yes.  I thought.  Oh my gosh, YES!  Why didn't I realize this before?

(Background.  In Wax on, Wax off I had decided to move all the plants out of the Arbor garden and turn the whole thing into a fenced-in vegetable bed.  That thought has steered me all summer.  I let the bed go.  I didn't care.  The crabapple trees blocked that garden view from the deck anyway so I didn't see the mess. I was going to dig it all up in Fall and go from there.  However, I did want to dig up and share the Dutch iris, the daffodils, the peonies with others before Fall.  Never did.  Wanted to.  Just didn't.)

And this morning my persistent non-involvement with that garden crystallized.  It wasn't one thing that held me back, it was my subconscious making a list that I couldn't see.  This list:

1.   I liked looking at the Arbor garden from the improved (and improving) swing garden.  With less deer damage this year, there actually were blooms to enjoy.  And the tall hibiscus blocked the neighbor's picture window. (I idly thought cuke vines would also do that.)

2.  Crabapples are prone to red cedar rust, causing them to loose leaves during the summer.  By early August the Arbor bed started showing through the crabapple trees and could be seen more and more from the deck.  And there were those blooms still going. (Looking way better than tired, end-of-season veg plants.  And there are maybe 2 more months to see the Arbor.)

The arbor bed seen through the thinning crabapple leaves this morning.
3.  I'd finally realized why I hadn't been digging stuff out of the Arbor bed over summer.  That bed is HOT.  No shade.  Blazing sun 10 hours a day.  A sunny flower bed with infrequent maintenance is one thing, but a vegetable bed needs attention every day!  I don't do sun well anymore.  I avoid that bed.  (And I wanted to fill it with vegetables???)

4.  I now have another 40' of privacy fence, a couple of panels which get lots of sunshine.  The current veg in front of the original fence did well, especially with the addition of a handy water barrel.  The fence is close to the house.  The Arbor bed is further away.  The walk to the fence is over even blacktop and a bit of lawn - easy access to electric and hose water.   The Arbor bed is downslope and uneven lawn.  Uneasy access.

Lots of plant potential along the fence!

Okay.  All this zipped through my head in a couple of seconds, but I felt like I'd relived most of the summer.  I was pooped. Ya get a bit disoriented after a brainstorm.  Wow.

And I know this is all true because it feels so right.  Turning the Arbor bed from a lovely flower bed to a work-a-day veg bed was just not right.  It seemed LOGICAL, sure.  It seemed the best way to thwart the deer.  I actually didn't see any other way to have flowers in front of the fence and veg protected from the deer. But logic turned out wrong. (It only involved the garden, not the gardener!  Spock would not do well in landscaping...)

But I CAN have the best of both worlds.  And it's SIMPLE.  Simple is always best.  I can have a French garden along the fence - flowers AND veg.  I can repopulate the Arbor garden with deer resistant stuff.  And next year, screw all that netting that drives me nuts.  I'm putting up electric tape around both beds.  And turned way up.  Ah, I love the smell of singed fur in the morning!  Woohaha.

Ooops, still running on adrenaline.  Best to sign off, calm down, and go wash the dishes.

And enjoy the window view with new perspective.  :-D


  1. Nature has a way of letting us know that it steers the ship :)

    Inter planting veg amongst your flowers is an excellent idea - the flowers can even act as companion plants.

    Why not plan the "hot" bed as a water-wise planted one?

    1. Hi Dani. I used to grow flowers in the veg bed, but seemed to have gotten away from it about a decade ago.

      As for the Arbor garden - I've always chosen drought tolerant stuff. I never water anything there except when first planting. In fact, except for the veg, I only water plants in pots around here. I have a well and am keenly aware of water usage. That's why the water barrels are so appreciated.

  2. In an emergency I moved some daylilies to a strange location. It was next to a bench but I had never thought to plant there. Next thing I know that I now have iris everywhere newly planted and my grandmother's white large lily planted there. I may move in some hostas and there will be another flower garden in the yard. Your plans sound great and your creativity does charge your batteries.

    1. You've found out my secret to flower bed placement, Larry. First something hard - like a bench, decorative fence, trellis, windmill, you name it, etc. After that things just gravitate to it and before you know - a lovely bed. Have you posted a pic of that bench bed? Would love to see it how it's coming.

  3. Love when those ideas just "pop". Sounds like you have a winner!

    I sometimes wish we had lived in this house for a year before remodeling. I would have done a lot of things differently. I guess gardening is the same way. I guess sometimes I'm glad it takes me forever to get motivated---maybe that's the secret! Maybe all those gardeners that get stuff done in one year are wrong---!!!!!!
    Ha---now that's MY epiphany!
    Can't wait to see the upcoming "show". And please---video of deer getting zapped! That would make my day!!!

    1. I'll tell ya Sue, I wanted to start some remodeling when I moved in, but settled for the infrastructure instead: water softener, RO water, new furnace & A/C, insulation, stuff like that. So I lived with the bathrooms and kitchen and the rest for a couple of years and finally realized I was at home. It's all good. It has its quirks, but I can deal. It's all warm/cool, dry and comfortable. Sometimes the best plan is - no plan. Live with it before deciding.

      And you're probably right about the gardeners, too. It took me a couple of years to get started gardening here in earnest (I had a job and no time to play). By then I was more familiar with the land, shading, water flow, wind, etc. Little by little it's coming together. I have no 'big picture', but everything is fitting into place. And when something goes kaka (like the beds under the sweet gums) ya just know it and take action. Go with your gut. When it's happy, you're happy.

      And if I get a night camera, I'll make sure it's a vid - with sound! woooweeee!

  4. I haven't had chance to catch up with my favourite blogs in ages and its been great seeing what you've been doing - and not doing! It certainly works!

    1. freerangegirl!! Looooong time, no visit. How are you? I'll pop over to your blog and see how things are doing. You kinda dropped off for some time. Thanks for stopping by. :-D


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