Saturday, 30 October 2010

First plantings

A week of rain gave the new soil time to settle. Thursday was showery still in Vancouver, but clearing eastward so I headed that way to meet my friend Pat for lunch and afterwards we went to my favourite nursery, Free Spirit.
Naturally, I came home with a carload of plants. Some were babies of ones I had given to Lambert when we moved four years ago; some were his recommendations for specific locations I described to him; some were irresistible new-to-me pretty things; and one was a house-warming gift. Thank you, Lambert.
At the front of the house, in the angle between the porch and the steps, I need plants that can handle quite a bit of shade. Hostas will fill some of the space, and I had a Hosta sieboldiana already to start the collection. At this time of year its leaves have gone yellow, but next spring's foliage will be a dusty blue-grey. I've added a Beesia calthifolia with stunning leaves of shiny dark green suffused with mahogany,

and a Saruma henryi that has lime-green leaves. Modest little yellow flowers sit atop the leaves of this woodland plant, but flowers are not too important in this location; colourful foliage is more what I have in mind.

I'll admit they don't make much of a show yet. Still, it's a start, and in my imagination I can see them in a few years, filling out their allotted spaces.
Lambert's house-warming gift, Enkianthus perulatus,  should be able to tolerate this location, which gets only early morning sun. It will have white bell-shaped flowers in summer as well as this lovely fall colour. 

Along the east fence, I've planted a small rambler 'Ghislaine de FĂ©ligonde'.

This is one of the most disease-resistant roses I know. Again, it looks a bit miserable at present, but I will train it horizontally against the fence, and it will quickly spread to about 12 feet . Unlike most ramblers, it will flower from summer right through to the end of fall with clusters of cream flowers opening from apricot buds.  This is what it looked like in my former garden:

Its only drawback is a lack of scent, but I will find other plants to accompany it that will make up for that.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Grass going...gone

A weather forecast of no rain for several days spurred me on to order a load of topsoil for the front yard. I've been itching to get at this sad bit of grass, dandelions and buttercups since we bought the house, but a new roof and all the exterior fixing and painting had to happen first.
Finally, however, the big day has arrived when the basis for a garden can be installed. In preparation, we used concrete bricks to fill in some of the space under the front porch, and cordoned off the parking space on the road.

While we waited for the delivery,  I spread thick layers of newspaper to cover, and hopefully choke, the existing vegetation, and Michael finished filling the remaining spaces below the porch with concrete boards, which won't rot if earth gets pushed up against them.

"That's a lot of reading material," commented one passer-by.

When the truck arrived, I was a bit anxious that I'd ordered too much soil. Thankfully it wasn't a full load.

I expected the box of the truck to tip, but it had a miraculous moving floor, that shoveled the earth out the back, rather the way conveyor belts move your luggage along on airport carousels. The driver tidied up the last shreds of soil with a snow shovel in one hand and a broom in the other.

We spent the rest of the afternoon shoveling and raking.

Several hours and two stiff backs later, everything was looking pretty nice.

We've erected a temporary chicken-wire fence to keep animals and small children off the soil while it settles, although nothing deters the neighbourhood raccoons, whose footprints were visible the following morning.  Since they may have had plans to move in under the porch as the winter weather approached, it's given us another reason to be pleased with the day's work.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Doors

The last bit of exterior painting was to do the doors, front, back and basement. It's a great feeling to have so much of the outside of the house completed.

There's just the front and back steps and their railings to do now, but we'll probably leave them until next spring.