Making this smoking area was a bit little like putting extra springs in the back end of a Chevy for rum running.  That was part of the fun.  The other amazing aspect about this commission was that it was a perfect opportunity to help bring people into nature; whether they were smokers or not.  

It may not look like much, it is a bit scraggy even as it needs a trimming, but it does fulfill everything asked of it.  In fact I call it a commission as it makes it sound more like a work of art I feel it is.  Proposal and quote do not reflect the same thing.

I show you here pictures of the finished product.  It has taken some years for the space and the atmosphere to mature to what it is today.  When doing art work with plants the canvas takes some time to dry and for the mood to set.

In the attached pictures there are some things to note that were designed into this project.

  • it is not square.  It was designed to fit the space
  • the cedar windbreaks work against the prevailing winds (except opinions)
  • the simplicity of the design lasted and has aged well.
  • It does not smell of smoke like some tin shed or bus shelter.
  • the spaciousness of it
  • the shade
  • the hiding spots

Note the hidden bench and the “Buttercup” Ashtrays.  It does need some pruning but the “long drapes” made it cool and private.

 

On this visit to the project I ventured in. I parted the Mulberry and found the sweetest world you can imagine.  It is a gem and it is a pity non smokers have not discovered it and scheduled themselves for a quiet time in this sanctuary instead of having to sit in full sun on concrete.

The cedar shrubs are almost ready for their first pruning. As they age they will cover the back completely.

You should note the easy to maintain “buttercup” ash trays we installed.  A smoker can remove it and have it beside them while they imbibe.  (yes we still have some in stock)

Please note.  The commission was to make a smoking area to fit this space.  It would be the same if we designed a reading area or a “let’s discuss this outside” board room.  

Please note.  Budget was important.  

Please note the bike parking area that got thrown in for no charge.

Please note.  I am bragging.  Sometimes I am that good.  

 


Sometimes husbands and wives find faults with little things.  These teeny foibles are both tough to find in my wife and tough to talk about with her.  Occasionally there is a lovely blush of spring in her cheeks and an “oops a daisy” in the end.  This is my favourite look of hers.

Last spring among the cute baby plants from the nursery was a “Jack O Lantern”.  ”Do not put that in my bed” I say in my best still in control deep bass voice.  

I expect her to trust and listen to me; to care about how I feel.  This did not happen.  She already knows I feel nothing and have no idea what goes on in either my head or heart and that my voice is cracking.  In they go.  

There is no revenge taken. I ignore for the season and move on. The best I manage to express myself is a stupid haiku.  

toe nails                                                                                         and coarse bone meal                                                                    in her bed

 

So.  Anyway.  It is next spring now.  I had to strip this bed and clean things up.  Let me quantify without feelings or judgements, as if you were a customer who needed a quote.  It took 2 plus hours to ferret out the roots.  One cedar shrub was infected.  The roots needed to be burned at 1300 degrees. (kiddimg about the fire)  This is only the first round.  A new shrub will have to be picked up, delivered and installed.  It will likely not match the existing one.

Nothing can grow there while I wait a couple of weeks to certify there are no roots left. I had to dig deep besides so it will take that long for the soil to settle back down anyway.  The edge of the deck will need to be monitored closely.  Some boards may have to be lifted to get underneath if we find a little pumpkin patch hiding there.

I really liked the job.  (not kidding)  Often I wonder if my calling was not an archeologist.  This work is very soothing to me and even Sandra recognizes this.  “That’s why I did it.  You can thank me later”

lol.  “Thanks dear”


Plants like dew drops, drops will do.

water drop

 

During this extremely dry summer we all have had to water our plants. This is a time consuming job and, if done improperly, a waste of water. Following are some tips that can help not only save you time and water but will make what you do more effective.

In other posts I have encouraged putting water in the hole as you plant out your annuals and vegetables. When this is done the plants will not wilt and they will not need water for three days at least. The amount of water needed to sustain a new plant for this long, if done this way, is about a cup per plant (likely less). IF we watered these gardens AFTER planting it would take more water than I can imagine and hours of time. A guess at 10 gallons per plant during this transplant stage is not unreasonable. There are several reasons for this.

  • The soil is not compacted and much of the water is working at bringing the soil back to its naturally healthy state. (by putting water in the hole when planting the soil is compacted properly when hole is filled)
  • The water is being applied to the whole of the garden instead of the plants in need.
  • The water is evaporating off the leaves and the top of the dirt
  • The water is running off and not soaking in.
  • Enough water, over the whole garden, has to be applied to soak the soil at least 3 inches. (THIS IS A LOT OF WATER)

There are other methods of doing what I am suggesting. The main point is to get water slowly to the plant so it soaks in over time. One method is to fill a two litre plastic pop bottle and turn it upside down in the dirt by the plant. I have never tried this and do not know how long the bottle stays filled or how often this needs to be done. If you use this method or have another idea please engage in the comment section where you have seen this post. The idea of course must conserve water.

What I do is turn the hose on until it barely drips. (hardly noticeable) Place the hose at the base of a tomato or your favourite shrub/flower and leave it there for a couple of hours. (overnight with grapes and shrubs) I set mine so slow that IF I forget it does no harm. Setting the hose at a fine dribble, slow enough that there is no run-off, is appropriate but only if you are there monitoring. It does not take long. There is no water wasted and I have to schedule watering less as I end up with more than enough water for each plant to do well for several days.


110628 nancy

 

A properly designed garden means that where and how it is edged is well thought out. It cannot be stressed enough that it is here, where your garden meets the lawn or the neighbours’ fence, that you can have the most impact. Improper design means that your garden will become labour intensive and the investments made in the plants could be lost.

This post is self serving in that it is encouraging you to book a consult. Yes this is one of many topics that will be discussed. Type of tools, placement of plants, plants to avoid and such things as available light will be also be gone over. The reason for this specific post is because of a quote we just sent in. If the garden was edged with Schepers Property Maintenance’s “hidden edge” there would be a saving of close to $500.00 yearly on labour costs. It would take 3 to 3.5 years to retrieve the costs of getting it installed. The plants would be healthier and safer. If you are one who does the work yourself a consult may not save you money but it will give you more time to enjoy you yard.

The raised dirt garden edge is not the best edge for your plants. The soil dries out faster, the mulch sloughs off and the rhizomes from the grass still get in your garden. These grasses tend to be trimmed down and beaten into hiding but they are still there. If ever the garden is not maintained this grass will soon take over. It is the most labour intensive task in the garden. There are other ways to properly edge a garden that look great and save the property owner time and money. We can help.

Our goal is to promote gardening and to make it as enjoyable as it should be. Learning techniques refined from 30 years experience and talking over plans will make that possible. When we arrive for a consult we are not quoting the work. This is not a fancy way to make you a customer; though that is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

When planning the edges here are some key points to consider.

  • Never plant too close to the edge. This is a costly mistake and will give a very messy appearance.
    • The perennials and shrubs in the garden, fully grown, should just kiss the hem of the lawn or walk. Annuals can be forgiven if they start to crowd and edge into the lawn.
  • Never let an edge go. Choose type of edge and then diligently maintain.
  • Fence lines are the hardest to weed and trim. Resolve these issues first with design changes and maintenance techniques. (and our hidden edge)
  • Do not be afraid of a larger garden. A shrub/ perennial garden 100 by 100, properly mulched that has but a 10 foot edge takes less time to maintain than a 30 by 30 garden with a 60 foot edge. Always consider the edge.
  • Plastic edging is not the best and takes maintenance. It is also more labour intensive to install too as it should not have any kinks. Do not instal around a tree as it will pop out sooner than you think. Check often and repair and reset as needed.
  • Stone edging, especially round ones are the worst. Every gap is a nursery for grass. ASK US FIRST!

 

 

A hat your sister encourages you to buy (and wear), a deck built in the most unlikely place and a new concrete slab purposely flawed. What do all these have in common? They are all crazy ideas with just the right amount of tenacity and they all work.

There are times to branch out or go out on a limb and what better place than in your garden where trees can actually grow. Think about what is holding you back. What will people think, its too corny or it will never work are a few statements I have run into. There have been enough posts I have written about yards renovations and makeovers that are outside of the box that I will not bore you with another one. When you look at seed catalogues and dream about your yard do not exclude the odd ideas that many tend to put to the side. A garden is a forgiving place to express yourself after all. Our garden coaches/ consultants can help with sound advice and ears that listen carefully to what your goals are.

I am attaching one of the stories I wrote about in Holland. It should be noted that my aunt was shocked at how manicured the lawn are on North America and when visiting the different outlook held in Holland really came through. We are bound in many ways to what we envision and culture is a very powerful one. This story is one from my first book if anyone is interested.

 

Day 1 Our Host

It is one thirty in the morning and I sit on the logs provided for the sitting.  They are still fragrant from having just been cut and from not being hauled.  They have been placed perfectly on the patio and they are the best of companions to their elders in the driveway.  On those the potted plants thrive.

When we arrived yesterday everything was just as expected.  The lawn perfectly manicured; some having been cut last week, some this week.  Her hedge along the drive is trimmed but there are no other shaped hedges.  It is better to say that there is nothing unkempt, and that every single plant belongs and thrives together.  I consider weeding the drive edges and the undergrowth under the trees in the back but have this feeling of uncertainty of not knowing where to start or why I would.  So I sit in it, on a log, and write about it instead.

I would be amiss if I did not tell you of the real beauty of her garden.  It blooms while we are conversing on the patio set in the drive, my sister, my aunt and I.  The petals sharply defined and soft as fluff, all perfectly spaced.  There are no forced blooms here and no bag of dead heads exist.  There is such a fragrance that it follows us as we bike and as we dine together that evening.  I play with names for the fragrance like “tweed and loafers” or “wool and enamel”  but I am at a loss.  Perhaps “chopped onions and coffee”?  I think “smiles on a breeze” is the best though.

there
amongst those
her

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