Friday, June 03, 2016

Service in Bud

In the last post (Service), I rehashed how I got onto this landscape committee thing and also why. I recounted our sudden adoption of three gardens (instead of one) and stated assurances that there was a plan.  This post is about THE PLAN and also has some lovely shots of us laying in the gardens.  

Most design projects for me start with a feeling or an idea that I hope resonates as you're in the area-whether it's in my home or in the great outdoors.  

Hold tight...this may be a little 'woo-woo' for you.  

You see....your surroundings speak to you.  What they are saying is often the result of the choices made for what fills that space.  There's a good reason that hospitals have calming colors.  Or that entrances to gyms often have tons of bright colors on the opposite sides of the color wheel.  We are spiritual beings and like it or not, our spirit is informed by what is around us.  The VIBE is a real thing.
The creative process is hard to describe to someone not in it with you.  I easily get lost inside my ideas.  Actually having to articulate what I am seeing in my head and heart can distill the vision more fully.  Here's a scribble for a different design project:

Enter my partner in crime who very patiently reminded me that for him to be an equal part of the team, I needed to slow down, draw it out for him, be specific. So here is what I saw as potential in my head as I was staring at those three gardens on that first day:
  • The Welcome Garden
    • Greets you when you come up the walk
    • Welcomes you around to the front entrance
    • Highlights important information (the path, the sign)
    • Generally gives you a feeling of optimism (this is THE HOUSE OF HOPE PEOPLE!)
  • The Fiesta Garden
    • Celebrates the unique nature of this body of our church family
    • Incorporates food for giving 
    • Energizes as you walk down the path (to the actual main entrance for staff)
    • Continues the feeling of optimism
  • The White Garden
    • Mimics the form of the garden next door
    • Feels light and ethereal
    • Calming and yet again....optimistic
    • Repeats some of the forms both beside and across the way-hot pink and purple ties into the other two gardens
    • Continues the use of edible plants within a space for both beauty and function

But what does that actually look like?  Turns out....I CAN actually draw it out.  Who knew?  I guess I did but I had forgotten in my growing up...I can draw.

So I worked hard at putting together sketches for possible plantings, showed them to my husband for opinion and sometimes went back to the drawing board. 

It turns out that my partner has very good instincts about what 'normal' (non-horticultural) people will find soothing and beautiful in a space.  His reactions to a specific plant or configuration are very strong and instinctive.  We trusted those instincts and combined them with my plant know-how.  We wrangled with each other (and learned a new way to communicate along the way) until we got to a place of mutual agreement.

Once we were agreed, we proceeded to get busy with the plan.  By spending an entire weekend in May enforcing outdoor work as a family.    What follows is an overview of the dig-in weekend.  It's mostly for my benefit so next year I can remember what we did.  It's also to prove to myself that just ONCE I can do a decent before, during, and after description.

The Welcome Garden

The Welcome Garden is still in progress.  For the summer months, we've put in a strip of annuals (in purple) to draw your eye to towards the door.  We moved around some of the plants for bigger impact-creating groups of  3 for similar plants and repeating plants further down the garden to draw the eye towards the door.

We moved several Stella D'oro daylilies out from the shade to frame the sign for the office and help give it weight.  And then...we kind of decided to leave it for a while. This garden is truly a hodgepodge. I cannot even begin to list all the plants that are in this area because every time I start to take an inventory, I realize there are 5 more peeping through the mulch.  Today a bright red Easter Lily bloomed.  It's like a grab bag garden.

We could have some big changes come fall or we may just tweak it again. We're kind of letting that one play out.  

Fiesta Garden

The general color palate for this garden is spicy.  Think reds, oranges, purple.  This bed is mostly intended to be a rotating annual bed that contains beautiful flowers as well as vegetables to donate to the local food pantry.

The original planting list is down below the pretty pictures.  In many cases I don't know the actual variety.  That's b/c mainstream gardening centers don't always label them correctly and also because sometimes I get tired of trying to remember.  Old people problems.  You don't care....but I want to try and remember what I put into this sucker :

That big teepee looking thing above is for the cherry tomatoes to grow up.  That was totally the husband's jam.  Notice the pretty design he made using the rope in the background of the picture below?  Nice touch.

The big pot below is to balance the bed visually when you look at it.
Several of these plants were re-homed from other beds.  That lone snapdragon came from the White Garden.  The yellow day lilies and coreopsis came from the Welcome Garden.

Here is us laying it out before planting.  This garden was ready for planting so we just filled the pot with potting soil, put in the plants and fertilized.  The hardest part for something like this is trying to keep in mind the size of the more mature plant so that everything has enough room.  Many of these plants will double in size over the next month.  some of them will be giant by the end of the summer.

Summer Planting 2016
  • Purple Fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum)
  • 'Miss Huff' Lantana (Lantana camara 'Miss Huff)
  • Dahlias (assorted)
  • Dwarf Yellow Sunflowers (Helianthus 'Teddy Bear')
  • Red Salvia (Salvia micophylla 'Hot Lips')
  • Celosia
  • Purple leaf sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)
  • Purple leaf Canna lilies (Canna sp.)
  • Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia)
  • Tickseed (Coreopsis sp.) (transplanted from the front bed)
  • Stella D'oro Daylily (Hemerocallis Stella D'oro) (transplanted from the front bed)
  • Coleus
  • Several veggies pre-ordered from Wild Onion Farms:
  • 4 kinds of cherry tomatoes:
    • *Peacevine (70) Very heavy producer of red cherry tomatoes.  Peacevine earned its name from its high content of gamma amino butyric acid, an amino acid that acts as a calming body sedative.  Tastes awesome, too!
    • *Black Cherry (70) dusky purple cherry tomatoes, sweet rich flavor
    • *SunGold (65) Fruity sweet and tangy orange cherry tomatoes are like tomato candy.  Highly addictive!  The only hybrid tomato we grow, but their flavor has no match in the heirloom world.
    • *Pink Bumblebee (70) Sweet cherry tomatoes are dark pink, streaked with gold, yellow, and orange stripes.
  • Jalepeno peppers
  • Poblano peppers
  • Tomatillos

The White Garden

The majority of our physical labor this day revolved around the White Garden.  There was a forty foot strip of grass that needed to be removed. Removed the old fashioned way-with muscle and a flat head shovel.

We also had to clear out about half the irises that existed in the bed, remove several small trees and that bush you see me digging up below. We are done with the grass in this pic but still have to bring in top soil and then plant and then mulch.
 Notice the kiddo in the back- both kiddos helped weed, fertilize, mulch and haul. Sometimes.  They also fought with 'swords', hunted worms with the robins, sprayed each other with the hose, and crushed rocks and mulberries.
Mama nirvana to go with dirt-digger nirvana.  
Double nirvana!

Here's the view from the front one the planting is in.  Many of these plants were in the Welcome Garden and we just moved them over.  Some of them already existed and we added a couple more to repeat down the bed.  And when we needed to add, we stuck to a color regime:  white will small accents of purple or hot pink.

Again-it can be a challenge to leave the space so the plants can fill out.  
Resisting the temptation to over plant is worth while.

Plant list:

*All of these came from the Welcome Bed.  And the Welcome Bed is still filled to overflowing with snippets of perennials that I just can't quite identify until they get a little bigger and/or bloom.  Seriously a grab bag.
**these are annuals that will need to be rotated seasonally.

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