Friday, February 20, 2009

Landscaping Dreams

On the Coast, February had touches...days where Spring did not seem far off.  Depending on microclimates in my garden, there would be Shrubs growing fat buds, bulbs of all kinds would have their strap-like Leaves reaching for the Sun, and  Moss in my lawn would have become thick, showing his unearthly, glowing green face. 

When I moved here to the Central Northern Interior, it was at the end of February.  Having come from the Coast, in my ignorance I assumed Spring could not be far off here, as well.

But when we moved into our home at the end of March, Snow was still very prevalent here. Okay, I thought, maybe a month longer, and I would be able to plant.

Snow melt did not occur until the middle of May.

With this in mind, I have decided to prepare for my landscaping project, which last year had me completely overwhelmed, long before the time comes to plant. On paper...and in dream time.

And this is because, last year when Spring finally arrived in the Cariboo, she really arrived. With huge fanfare, Shrubs and Trees and small perennial Flowers burst into leaf and bloom, within days of each other. Suddenly, the places where I had planned garden beds were covered in Flora, no longer visible.

I have learned.  I know, now, to plant bulbs ( I have yet to find any which Squirrels will not...pardon me...squirrel away) under coniferous Trees. Snow does not build up there, and already brown, naked Soil is showing up under various areas.

This Winter has also taught me how important places where Snow can be built up, after ploughing, are...without worrying about any plants that may lie there.

Suddenly, I imagine how, as a child, I would have built enormous Snow caves in those mounds. I imagine how I would have travelled to different spaces and Worlds, had I tunnelled a huge crater in the icy Snow...

But I digress. Following my imagination is to travel to distant lands and different is very easy to get lost.

Back to my landscape plans.

Since our home is situated somewhat oddly, on this hilly, rocky land, with a Gravel driveway just a few feet from the front entrance, I have decided to use decorative Gravel to delineate the front garden areas.  Instead of my usual jumble of perennial plants, I will plant carefully chosen Trees and Shrubs which will yet stand tall above three feet of Snow.

I am aiming for a still, Zen like quality...a garden which will showcase, here and there, the singular beauty of a Tree or Bush, its Bark, Leaves and Flowers.

It is the Gravel which decided me to take this hugely unusual approach (for me) to gardening.  Before the Snow bed is built up on the driveway, much gravel will be moved under the Snow plough, to places in which it shouldn't be. 

If I can't beat it, I have decided I may as well join with the Gravel already here.

Logs which were cut last year will be used around each well-chosen specimen, with perhaps a chair or bench placed here and there.

And this year, as well, I want to build steps into the Draw off the side of the driveway, which will extend our front garden considerably. Down in the deep Draw is where the best soil lies...and there is where I will go wild with shade-loving, leafy perennials...perhaps even my first love, the Fern.

It seems to me much of my time in the garden this year will be spent building...I hope to have time to tend new plantings as well.

As there is no sited vegetable bed, I intend to build some raised beds below where the greenhouse is slated to be. Building the woodworking shop and the greenhouse will once again change the landscape, with many further gardening options which will appear.

To satisfy my yearning for the feel of soil in my hands, I  bought Seeds. Many, many Seeds...Poppies, Sweet Peas and Sunflowers, along with Herbs...Dill, Parsley, Thyme, Borage and Chamomile...all, and more, are on the agenda for seeding.

Graham has rigged a contraption which holds a grow light...and one of the guest bedrooms will be turned into an indoor greenhouse.

This year, I plan to be prepared for Spring's sudden and so very welcome arrival.  There are many Windows along the back of our home, bringing light and Sunshine for the baby plants, along with the greening bedroom.  I am lucky in that the deck faces South and runs along the entire length of the back. If I am vigilant, when temperatures are suitable, I can place each flat of seeds on the deck during the daytime.

It is the night temperatures which will harm them. I must remember to bring the small, tender seedlings into the warmth of the house...something so important, yet there have been times when I have forgotten.

Further along in this landscaping dream, I want to build a set of stairs from the back deck to the flatter land below and beyond. I want to plant Arabis, Thrift, Achillea and Sunflowers on the bank, with small Fruit-bearing Trees and Shrubs and weepy Trees who will draw their Leaves gently amongst the Boulders already there.

And why stop here? I want to extend the fence to take in an area where Birch is Queen. This is a magical place! It is a riot of Wildflowers...Columbine, Lilies, Daisys and more dot the very fertile Soil here. In high Summer, I imagine the whisper of the Aspen and Birch Leaves high above as Wind stirs their senses, when I wander the paths I've made beneath them.

Paths which will lead to secret, unknown places...a resting spot becoming apparent around a turn or detour here and there.

In my dream, I turn the rather utilitarian steel gate at the far end of the fence into a charming trellised affair, with Rose and Clematis clambering about willy-nilly, gleefully and easily escaping the browsing jaws of Deer...

I am eager to prune the wild Roses, Saskatoon bushes, and Willows who live everywhere along the fence lines. In order to save a fairly large Willow from browsers , we have fenced her in. And although there have been plenty of tracks, Moose has decided it is too much trouble to jump the fence for this one meal.

In my landscaping dream, I have no pain.  In the dream, I have only eagerness to begin to garden, only enthusiasm and ardour to work hard, in the imagined Sun and sultry Spring breezes which tug at my hair.

It is a brilliant way in which to spend a Winter's afternoon! 


  1. Anonymous11:00 a.m.

    hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

  2. (Sending anticipatory shivers down my spine!)

    You have such a beautiful way with words...this was such an inspirational post. I'm now keenly looking at my garden with high hopes and a creative eye.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and hopes! Wishing you a beautiful and bountiful spring!

  3. I can sense your anticipation of spring. Lots of ideas and something exciting to look forward to. That's the way it should be.

  4. Anonymous4:14 p.m.

    Hello Marion,

    This dream needs no interpretation!

    I am sure it will manifest, maybe not all by the end of this Spring. LOL

    I thoroughly enjoy dreaming along with you!

  5. I seem to be always seeking some Witch Hazel plants but they are hard to find. I think they bloom in the spring and fall with tendrils of yellow similar to those of the Cedar balls when it rains (if you have cedar in the Cariboo??)

    Still cold here. I guess we need to build a wall on our northern border (similar to that on our southern border) to keep all of that Canadian air in Canada!! Then a nice roof and we'll be all set and isolated from the world.

  6. This is a wonderful post, Marion and it is clear that Spring cannot long escape your mind. The photos are so beautiful. This post is a clear cup of water; a drink of beauty. Thanks so much for your wise spirit.

  7. Hi Marion - Your post leaves me with a wonderful vision of nature poised like a wound up spring, ready to make up for lost time by leaping into action as soon as the snows relent: cramming the whole of what might in other locations be a slow and stately procession into the few short, abundant months available. It seems like you are getting poised to spring also! (Now where could the word 'spring' have come from, I wonder?)

    Good luck with your plans!

  8. Those ducklings are only a couple of weeks old. Did you hatch them?
    Look like small Rouens to me.

  9. Thank you all for your comments; life came in the way of my answering you all. But, as is usual, Life has meandered on again, and all's well!


    I have been the proud owner of many Witch Hazel plants, and I hope to find another one for the property here. Because they bloom so early, they have always brought the anticipation of Spring to full bloom. Harry Lauder's Walking Stick is another early bloomer and I really love him, as well. Very common to Witch Hazel.

    I brought a baby Cedar Tree from the coast when I arrived here; I'm not sure if it made it through the Winter, since it is still under Snow. They are not common here, but I have seen one or two planted. Most are covered over the cold season.

    I took the photo of the ducks from ClipArt; I checked and it only said baby ducks on the description of the photo. I am thinking about having chickens, it sounds nice in Summer, but the Winters are brutal!

    I'm not sure I want to wander out everyday to feed my poultry, in those cold temps.