Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hello Pacific Northwest.

I'm back! After a decade of living and gardening in Central Texas, I'm back home in the Pacific Northwest where I grew up and learned to garden. Leaving my garden I built in Austin was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but I am so excited to be back home. I won't miss the Death Star, I tell you what. I do miss the gorgeous Central Texas spring, though. It was in the mid-80's and sunny, sunny, sunny when I left. When I arrived in Olympia, Wa, it was in the 60's and...that's right! Rainy! And that's perfectly fine with me. I love the rain. I'm never complaining about the rain again. Nope. Never. It's what makes the Pacific Northwest green and that is just fine and dandy with me.

So I'm back and ya'll (The peeps up here are gonna give me hell for using the term "ya'll", but I so don't care. I kinda like it and I'm keeping it.) are probably curious what my next garden project is. Well here it is:

That big old dirt spot is gonna become a veggie and flower garden. My first task is to get all those rocks outta there and then have a load of compost delivered so I can rototill it all in there. In a couple weeks, I'll be ready to start planting and the Month of May is perfect planting time up here. There will be corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, cukes, and pole beans. And there will be cosmos and sunflowers and all manner of annuals. And there are no, I repeat NO squash vine borers up here. *does a snoopy dance*

Oh! And lookie what I got! A fuchsia! A great big, super-fluffy, Pacific-Northwesty fuchsia:

I'm so excited, I think I'm gonna pee my pants!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Goodbye Garden. I have put my heart and soul into creating you, but it is now time that we must part. It kills me to let you go. I built you with my bare hands from nothing but a vision and a desire to return a little bit of scarred land back to nature. Through blood (the blisters, cuts, sunburns, a cracked finger, and wasp stings!), sweat (omg the buckets and buckets and buckets of sweat!), and tears (those times I killed plants by planting the drought tolerant babies too close to the fence where the neighbor lady drained her above ground ginormous pool at the end of the season), I created you from nothing.

In a place that was desolate monoculture grass and landscapers 'red death' and devoid of animal life, I tirelessly ripped up lawn with my straight-edged shovel and planted native and adapted trees, shrubs, and flowers in its place. I created a space for birds galore - finches, mockingbirds, sparrows, grackles, woodpeckers, waxwings, bluejays, chickadees, cardinals, warblers, painted buntings, hummingbirds, bobwhites, falcons, doves, orioles, tanangers, even a cuckoo and an untold more.

Painted bunting (these guys are so flighty - this is the best shot I was ever able to get):

A space for toads, anoles, and geckos who helped me control the exploding ant and wolf spider population without pesticides right after I moved in. A place full of bees and butterflies. A place of Zen. A place for me and my garden friends..

In this space of Zen I added a lion fountain in the entryway and a ripply blue fountain in the back, which I adore and the wildlife love. I really want to take that blue fountain with me more than anything, but it belongs to the garden and so will stay with the garden. There will be other jars to make fountains from, but that blue fountain - it was special. I put that thing in myself - just like everything else in the garden, it was built by me.

I watched hummingbirds try to perch on it in the scorching heat of the summer and slide off the side in futile determination, and watched cardinals and mockingbirds drink from it in the icy winter storms. The blue fountain is the anchor of the backyard garden and I'll miss it, but as the anchor, it belongs to the garden.

I'll miss you limestone and pea gravel garden path, that became a nursery for texas bluebells - my new favorite wildflower on the planet - and that I built by hand from hand-picked limestone scavenged from housing development garbage piles. And I'll miss the Inca doves that spend the sultry summer days resting on the limestone rocks of the path in the dead heat of July and August:

I'll miss you veggie garden. Every year a new challenge in the increasingly torrid texas heat:

I'll miss you texas red oak - I so don't care people tried to talk me out of purchasing you and called you the 'typhoid mary' of the oak world. I planted you anyway and you thrived:

I'll miss sitting on the back porch in the sultry summer evenings breathing in the heavy scent of the datura and the moonflowers of the evening garden:

Goodbye stately sagos - you outperformed my wildest dreams and grew faster than I ever imagined:

Goodbye anacacho orchid tree - whom started my gardening obsession in Central Texas:

Goodbye Texas Mt. laurel, how I will miss your grape soda scent that is so intoxicating to moths, butterflies, and me:

Goodbye eve's necklacepod tree and flameleaf sumac that I ordered special from the now defunct nursery around the corner:

Goodbye gorgeous, ginormous agaves whom are now nearly as large as Volkswagon beetles:

Goodbye hummingbirds, those wonderful flying jewels of my garden:

Goodbye all my wonderful bulbs and plants that I searched tirelessly for in local nurseries and online stores. I wish I could take you all with me.

But not to fret! There is a new beginning in an ending. I'm bringing multiple bulbs and starts with me. I have seeds from many of my garden flowers and trees. I'll be starting a new garden from the babies of the old.

And there will be new plants to discover and new gardening challenges to be had. You see, I'm moving back to the Pacific Northwest. The universe has been screaming at me the past several months that it is time to go. I'm listening. Really, I knew it was time. I knew last summer when I went back to visit and sat on the beach with the pacific ocean crashing in my ears that it was time to go home.

But I'll always leave a piece of my heart in Central Texas. In Austin. In my garden that I built here for an entire decade. The garden that I now hand over to new owners, as much as it pains me. I hope they enjoy the garden and its inhabitants as much as I enjoyed building it.

Gardens are living pieces of art to me. Fleeting and often in the eye of the beholder. Time will wash away my mark, but I'll always have memories, seeds, bulbs, and starts. Heck, I read somewhere that a guy on Queen Anne has a huge anacacho orchid tree. Well, I'm gonna have one too! The orchid tree that started my garden produces many babies and one of them is already potted up and coming with me. And I have anacacho orchid tree seeds as well, just in case.

Goodbye Garden. I'll miss you and you have brought me so much joy, but it's time to move on.