If you visit this blog from time to time, you know that I love plants and nature. I have been restoring a derelict farmhouse and its abandoned grounds, where there used to be a garden that was eaten up by weeds. Weeds? By other native plants, I should say. I thought about that the other day and realized that God didn’t make weeds; instead, he created all kinds of beautiful plants, and we decided to call them weeds, but He did not. I have learned to incorporate some of these “weeds” in my garden and let them be beautiful.
However, this DIY journey has taken years and patience. There is much to be done yet, and I have an impatient spirit sometimes, but I have learned to listen to what this old farmhouse wants, and to what the land is asking for. Most of the time, I have listened well. It is when I have become too restrictive and “boxy” that I have made some mistakes, in the garden that is. Although it might apply to my life as well.
Living a simple life, as well as creating a dream of this old farmhouse and its garden requires quite a bit of patience, and endurance I might add, or I should say quite a lot. Many people find it too much work, inconvenient, and would not put up with it. Exactly the reason why the unpolished gem sat on the market for some time until we picked up the loupe and found it. Have we polished it or has it polished us?
A gardener waits and waits, and … A gardener endures the seasons patiently. A gardener changes with the seasons. A gardener watches the death of a garden and awaits its rebirth. A gardener is not afraid of trying a new approach. A gardener plants in faith, and harvests in gratitude.
In hindsight, it has been like writing a story without an outline. It is mostly how I write as well, so in a way, it has become a natural endeavor; however, it requires the patience of a saint (as the adage says) but I rather have the patience of a gardener.
The work around this farmhouse continues; there is something to add to the list always. Not too long ago, we removed bricks that were in the front garden. When we got rid of the kitchen chimney, we reused those bricks. When we were able to work on that garden area again, we took them out and set them aside to be used elsewhere. We used a few of them in the faerie garden and the new garden next to it. The bricks replaced old bent wood that was serving as a border. The old wood was used as border on the trails my husband is slowly developing in the back area. My husband decided to make a chimenea with the rest of the bricks. It will be great for the sitting area during chilly days. It also serves as a cooking option if power goes down for long. The important thing is that these lovely old bricks that date to 1910 at least, if not older, were not wasted.
One of my easy projects was to have Morning Glory grow by the side entrance and wrap itself around the handrail. I love the look of Morning Glory in pictures and paintings of cottages, so I wanted to recreate the look somehow.
It looks like the garden is starting to prepare for a new season, and so am I; soon, everything will go to rest for a while.
It seems that once the To-Do list goes down, another task comes along unexpectedly. We have one more tree to add to the trees that must be cut down. It happens to be my favorite pine. I loved to look at that tree during the seasons, and I even took some pictures of it and shared one or two on this blog. Unexpectedly, the tree became brown. It happened fast and in a matter of a couple days, not even a week. One day I looked at it and admired it, and the next time I looked it was brown. We don’t know for sure what happened, but we think that either my husband or the utility company killed it. My husband sprayed some Roundup near it while trying to get rid of some stubborn weed growing under the blue shed. Upon research, we found that Roundup is lethal to pine trees. By the same time, the utility company/city was spraying nearby to kill trees that might grow around or overtake electric lines. If the wind carried some of it and the needles absorbed it, the tree would become brown fast. Now the dead tree is a danger to the house, so it will need to be removed. In the meantime, the weeds under the shed never died.
Removing large trees is quite expensive, so we are tackling one tree at a time and budgeting for each one. I will certainly miss this tree, and for now, I will enjoy its reddish-brown hue and hope for a miracle.
Everybody needs … places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength …
When we purchased this derelict farmhouse, there was no garden, only a morass of overgrown bushes, grass, and weeds, some of them inside the siding, covering the house, and even inside it. Little by little, we uncovered the place, and one step at a time, we set out to create a garden. As we uncovered areas, we found a hidden driveway, some existing plants that we kept and revived, and other areas of interest, such as a sitting area delineated by a cemented circle shape. One area at a time, we set out to clean, separate, and plan what we could do using existing or recycled materials, and some new.
Eventually, it started to feel and look like a garden. We added a few new plants and propagated other existing plants. Today, we are at a point where the place feels manageable, and we plan to create new garden areas. Our goal is to create at least one new area every year or add new plants to an existing area. So far, we have created a garden around the perimeter of the house, a veggie garden, a faerie garden where there is a large section covered with moss, a small front garden at the entrance, which is still in the works, two small areas next to the house, a sitting area, and recently, a small garden next to it. We have added four new trees which we obtained for free (a small $10 donation) through the Arbor Foundation, and these are doing very well. We planted five but one did not make it. Originally, they sent 10 dormant trees (these look like brown sticks); we planted five and gave the rest to my sister.
I’ve loved gardens since I can remember. I especially loved my grandmother’s garden, and as a little girl I enjoyed it. Although it was a small garden, at that age, to me it felt as a huge garden, my own world. Sadly, this garden does not exist anymore. It was replaced by hideous cement. My favorite garden style is an English garden, and I would love to recreate that style on this property. My husband favors more symmetrical and delineated gardens, which I dislike, so we compromise a bit. He also dislikes climbers, which I love. I have a list of dreamy plants that I would like to see growing in the garden. Some are already part of it. The list is in no particular planting or planning order; just what I love.
Iris – There was an existing light purple variety growing here, which we uncovered and propagated. I brought a deeper shade of purple from my garden in Jersey.
Gladiolas – My sister gave me some from her garden, and these are doing very well.
Hen and chicks – These have propagated well, and I brought them from my garden in Jersey.
Weeping blue spruce – wish list
Holy tree – We uncovered two existing varieties, one in the new garden area, which we uncovered amongst overgrown bushes, and another one in the wooded area at the back of the house.
Jasmine – wish list
Camelia – wish list
Magnolia – wish list, but it tends to grow very large, so I am not too sure about adding it.
Snapdragon – planted some from seed.
Gardenia – wish list
Clematis – wish list
Wisteria – wish list
Butterfly bush – wish list
Tulips – wish list
Giant Hosta – We added a few hostas and three blue hostas.
Sunflowers – We added them from seed, but did not come back, as the birds ate all the seeds.
Yarrow – Found in property.
Daphodils – wish list
Poppy – wish list. Planted seeds but did not grow.
Black Eye Susan – wish list
Forget me nots – wish list
Hyacinth – wish list
Crocus – wish list
Roses – Planted a small bush that died. Just bought two mini rose bushes that will go in the front porch area when we redo that area.
Ferns – found in property along with wild violet and I potted it.
Clover – Tons of clover grow here. I would rather have Clover than grass.
Lavender – wish list, have proven hard to grow, but I have a small English Lavender plant in a pot, but it has been a challenge to grow elsewhere.
English Ivy – I have three plants growing in pots by the faerie garden and side entrance.
Bleeding heart – wish list
Daisy – wish list
Lillies – Existing near the porch, some of which we propagated in the faerie garden. I planted a Tiger Lilly by the side entrance.
Calla lilies – My sister gave me a few from her garden. We have them in pots for now, and they come up every year; eventually, we will propagate these.
Zinnias and Foxglove – By seed
Forsythia – We have a small existing bush that we revived and trimmed. It tends to flower in December for some reason, and by the time Spring arrives, it is done with its flowers.
Peony – wish list
Dwarf Boxwood – Existing, and we uncovered and revived these two bushes by the porch steps. At one point, I thought these would not make it because these were in very bad shape.
Hydrangea – Existing. We have a lovely Blue Hydrangea that we trimmed and is doing beautifully.
Climbing rose – We uncovered a tiny rose bush, and it has grown beautifully. It was covered by overgrown vegetation, and we almost missed it.
Morning Glory – Just started growing two + plants (by seed) in pots by the side entrance steps. My goal is for them to climb and wrap themselves around the banister and handrail.
There are many cedars, pine, and oak varieties around here, and some lovely trees that I have no idea what they are. I am sure that I can come up with more dreamy plants, but for now, these are the ones that I would love to see growing in the garden. I enjoyed many of these plants in my previous garden and I truly miss them. I would like to add the plants on this list throughout the years, and at least a small water feature. I will share some of these projects on this blog.
To view some of the before and after pictures of the garden you can visit my posts under Restoring a Garden or Fixing an Old Farmhouse. Here are a few pictures.
One practice that I did not think I would take on was keeping a journal for gardening. I did not think I needed to keep track of plants or make notations about it. The practice started out of necessity. The first year I started a veggie garden, many things did not take or survive. I was puzzled because I never had a problem growing flowers and had a healthy garden in Jersey near the beach, a challenging soil. I assumed growing veggies from seed was challenging, but also found out that the crazy changing on and off weather here in Southern Virginia had a lot to do with it. I decided to start a journal to track what I did, and the results. By doing this I identified many things I could do differently and others that did not work, but also, things I could improve on. The second year was much better. I was pleased and decided to keep the practice for a few more years.
This little garden journal has evolved quite a bit from where it started. Today it serves more than one purpose. It helps me plan the next year garden, holds sketches for garden projects, and other things garden related. I carry checklists that represent garden goals for the year, materials needed, and the goals that were not accomplished by the end of the gardening season will go on next year’s list. Something so simple ended up being an important resource for me. It has also become a very enjoyable pastime.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
I love this time of the year. The beginning of Spring, when bugs are still half asleep, and the garden is awakening. The temperatures are a bit cool enough to enjoy preparing the garden for the rest of the year. That is what we have been working on, setting up the garden. Cleaning up winter’s memories and hoping for a good gardening year. Last year we had a drought, and everything looked sad and dry. I am hoping for plenty of rain.
We cleaned up the veggie garden. Had to discard one of the large boxes; it broke on the sides. A layer of fresh mulch was applied, and containers were moved around to make room for new planting boxes. My husband made veggie markers, and I am hoping to plant much more. Despite the ice and crazy weather, lettuce came back from last year. Two full containers, so I will not have to plant lettuce this year. It survived the frost.
I started two new areas in the garden this year. These are a work in progress right now. One is at the very front of the property, and the other area is next to the faerie garden. This area is covered by lush green moss in the spring, which I love, and the only thing I have been able to plant here are hostas; it is a shady area. We try to add to the garden something new every year. Little by little this garden has been transformed from the original mess of weeds and overgrown bushes to something more delightful. You can see the progress on the Restoring a Farmhouse series of posts.
I am very happy because a small garden center opened in our area, and now we will not have to drive that far to purchase plants or gardening material. After all that hard work, our reward was my delicious version of Fiesta Rice.
I know that there are things on our To Do List that should have priority, but sometimes, we cannot help it and an idea just hits one of us and we both run with it. This little garden project was born in my head while sitting on the porch as my husband was talking about things he would like to do around the future rain garden. He liked the proposed change and we went with it. One of the front bushes was looking sad despite many attempts to make it become more full. It wasn’t working. It was one of the original bushes we uncovered and tried to make healthier. Here is a picture of it.
After trimming it very low to the ground to force it to fill up a bit, it did not do that, so we decided this year to remove it and move one of the stone benches on the porch to that area. Here is the result. We like it better that way. We thought it would be a difficult task to remove it, but to our surprise, it was very loose and came out easily. Maybe this was the reason for it to look a bit unhealthy.
Once you start you just keep moving, so my husband decided that he wanted to try something – moving the porch hanging solar light to one of the entrances that he is cleaning up to continue a few short trails. I thought about moving the solar light somewhere else but was not sure where, so that worked out.
From there it was natural to move to something else, so I decided to make a little habitat for garden critters at the Faerie garden. I repurposed an old table stand and used it as a small trellis for an ivy, and under it I placed one of the chimney halves I had found before. As the ivy grows and becomes fuller it will turn into a cozy retreat for critters.
As the garden wakes up, we keep helping it look better every year. This section is looking better after tending it with hope, working with the existing area, and adding a few things.
All seeds have been planted on the veggie garden area, and they are coming up. The seeds for the flower circle are planted as well, and hopefully, we will be able to clear an area in the back for planting cantaloupe, corn, pumpkin, and sunflowers. That part requires a bit more work. As the garden grows and changes we also grow and change with it.