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The Tour: The Gardens

November 24th, 2012

One of the reasons we chose this property was because of the potential that it had as far as gardening was concerned. The gardens are off to a good start, I’ll definitely be expanding them every year.

We’ll start off with the foundation gardens around the house. I know there are poppies, goat’s beard, asters and a few other things growing here. The previous owner took some of the plants, which is fine with me. It will certainly be interesting to see what pops up next year.

In the front lawn, there are two ancient apple trees surrounded by a fairly lush lawn. No doubt all the chicken poo helps, since the chickens are very fond of scratching around under these trees.

There’s a small potager behind the house, it’s probably a 15 ft square. I’ll be expanding it a bit, building rock walls along the bottom edge to retain the soil, and giving it a formal feel with a four square plan.

There’s also a raised bed nested into the hillside in the back of the house. It’s above the small potager.

Up behind the garage, there’s a large main edible garden. It’s currently planted in cover crops and a few overwintering vegetables. I have big plans for this area next spring, hopefully I’ll be able to put those chickens to work tilling it up and getting rid of some of the grassy weeds.

There’s also an old fashioned out house, complete with bucket of ash sitting over a small hill across the driveway. I suppose this could come in handy should we have big garden parties some day.

There’s also a wood fired sauna sitting down below the house. We haven’t had time to fire it up yet, hopefully we will use it often this winter. It’s a sweet little building to be sure.

There are vast grassy areas around the house, they’ll be frost seeded with clovers and beneficial pasture plants in hopes that it will be well established for some hoofed friends someday. There’s also a large hillside in front of the house that’s completely cleared, we may terrace it and turn it into a permaculture garden. There’s no shortage of possibilities here at the new place, our only limitations will be time and money! It’s a good things we’re patient people.

What’s your favorite foundation garden plant?

Other Stops on the Tour:
The Driveway
The Tour: Chicken Coop

The Tour: Driveway

November 10th, 2012

I have received lots of requests for a tour of the new place here in Maine. We’re still unpacking some things and settling in. I’m a little reluctant to to a tour since there has been no painting, only cleaning and unpacking. There are also still things in boxes and we have to paint before some things can be put away. I guess all the images will make great before photos for my before & after posts – so here starts to tour. Additional areas will be toured in upcoming weeks and I’ll add links to the bottom of the posts.

I’ll start with the driveway, which deserves it’s own post. After all, we have our own road name and our own curvy road sign.

It’s a long driveway, about a third of a mile, which we actually like after living so close to the road back in Ohio. It’s good to know that when I let Dexter outside, I don’t have to worry about traffic on the road.

There are all kinds of twists and turns which take you through the woods and up the hill. It’s pretty steep; thank goodness we now have an old truck with a plow to keep the road cleared in winter.

Almost every day, we take the dog and walk down the driveway to get the mail. It’s the perfect walk in the middle of the afternoon. It stretches your legs, wakes you up, gets the blood flowing, and invigorates you for the rest of the afternoon.

Sometimes we even get lucky and Dexter joins us on our stroll. He usually meets us halfway down when we’re on our way back.

This is the view back down from the top, well almost the top. There’s still a little bit of driveway to go, but you would see the house and garage/barn if I included it. That will come next week.

No doubt there will be times in the middle of the winter when we can’t make it up the hill. That’s OK with us, we’re always prepared with boots and extra socks in the car. That won’t be anything new either, several times each winter we would be unable to get up our rather steep driveway back in Ohio as well. We’d rather have to hike up the driveway a few times each winter than live too close to the road!

How long is your driveway? Is it curvy, steep, gravel, paved?

Garden Tour: The Front Foundation Garden

September 15th, 2012

The front foundation garden was the first area I started to tackle when we moved here 10 years ago. It was planted with things that wouldn’t have survived in that bed. The rhododendrons in that bed were given to my parents and I replaced them with a few plants, most of which are long since gone.

I started by adding lots of chicken manure, leaf mold and compost for several years. Then I dig out all the big rocks and added more humus. After a few years, I decided it was time to plant a few things. This garden has evolved over time, just like my skills as a gardener. If I was starting this bed from scratch I’d do things a little differently.

Overall, I really like this flowerbed, it contains a mix of things that bloom throughout the seasons. Lots of spring flowering bulbs from February through April. It’s filled with peonies, hollyhocks, hydrangeas, catmint and other flowering beauties during the summer. In the fall there’s a beautiful ‘Pinky Winky’ hydrangea and a few balloon flowers that hang on for a last showing of color. It could use an evergreen shrub or two (like a boxwood) to give it a little more structure in the winter.

There are also lots of edibles; chives, fennel, asparagus, kale, blueberries, tomatoes, squash, cabbage and whatever other edibles I can tuck into empty spots.

My favorite time to view this flowerbed is in lat June when the ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea is at it’s best. There’s just something so wonderful about this original garden. It’s the first garden I started working on 10 years ago and it shows.

How old is your oldest garden?

Chiot’s Run Garden Tour
The Middle Garden
The Side Garden
The Front Hillside Garden
Mr Chiot’s Mailbox Garden
Garden Tour: The Front Garden

Garden Tour: Side Garden

July 31st, 2012

The next area of the garden featured in the garden tour is The Side Garden. This garden is on the Southeast side of the house. It’s a long narrow space, 10 feet wide by 30 feet long.

Bordered on one side by our two story home and on the other by huge 80 ft tulip poplars, it’s not the easiest space to garden. Even though I’ve been amending the soil in this portion of the garden for the past 10 years, the big trees suck up all the nutrients and water.

In order to deal with the heavy feeding of the large trees, I layer a large portion of my garden waste over the soil as mulch. Everything from garlic leaves to grass clippings is added to my thick layer of mulch around all the plants.

The deep shade also makes it difficult to grow much of anything. Lucky for me, hostas and hydrangeas love this space, and I love hostas and hydrangeas. There are a great number of hostas; those with huge corrugated leaves in colors of blue, yellow and green, along with more delicate hostas.

In the spring, there are a few bleeding hearts, tulips, lily of the valley and dogtooth violets that bloom beautifully. The bleeding heart came from my mom’s garden and the lily of the valley came from my grandma (my mom’s mom).

In summer, this garden is bursting with hydrangeas of all colors, from the multi-colored ‘Endless Summer’ and the classic ‘Nikko Blue’ to a stunning ‘Limelight’ that is about 10 feet tall and blooms profusely in late summer. There are also a few that aren’t mature enough to bloom yet, Golden oak leaf, Big Daddy, Penny Mac and a few others.

For the longest time it was a neglected space, but it changed dramatically this spring. After much thought, lots of back building digging, a curved walkway emerged and the garden was complete.

I edged the walkway with hostas, both to accentuate the curve and to add a nice mowing edge. The results were AMAZING. Lucky for me I had a huge patch of mature hostas on the front hillside that needed moved. There were just enough to line the entire walkway. It was instant beauty, no waiting around for the plants to grow and fill in.

Every time I give a garden tour people comment about the curved hosta lined walkway as soon as they round the corner. This is the view when you round the corner from the front lawn as it looked yesterday morning.

This is the view when you round the corner of the house coming from the opposite direction.

The shady nature of this garden makes the grass struggle to grow. I’ve been establishing a more shade tolerant variety of grass and white clover as well. As a result, the green walkway is looking better than ever, even with the drought of this summer.

This side garden is a working garden, it gets a tremendous amount of traffic. I find myself constantly walking through the garden with a wheelbarrow or watering cans. The outdoor spigot is also in this space, so the hose cart resides here as well. The air conditioner and sewer crock are also located in this space.

After long being neglected, The Side Garden has finally come into its own this summer. It is probably one of my most favorite spaces now.

What’s your favorite shade loving plant?

Chiot’s Run Garden Tour
The Middle Garden
The Side Garden
The Front Hillside Garden
Mr Chiot’s Mailbox Garden
Garden Tour: The Front Garden

Garden Tour: The Middle Garden

July 19th, 2012

Since this is my last summer gardening here, I’ve been trying to take photos of the entire garden every week or two. I want to have a record of how the garden progresses throughout the seasons. Many of you have asked to see a tour of the gardens so I thought I’d start posting a few photos of the various garden areas I have that I’ve taken throughout the season with an explanation of where the garden is.

This garden is located between the house and the garage. It’s a narrow strip, mostly paved with small gravel and it contains a deck. The deck used to be about twice this size taking up the entire area, but we reduced the size to make it more in scale with this area. This area is HOT HOT HOT, the gravel and the deck retain the heat and radiate it throughout the day. It gets morning sun on one side and afternoon sun on the other.

Mr Chiots build me a lovely cedar trellis that covers a huge portion of the garage wall, on it I’m growing hops and a few different kinds of clematis. In the flowerbed at it’s base you will find everbearing strawberris, lemonbalm, lady’s mantle, bergamot, Egyptian walking onions, hops flowering oregano, creeping thyme, and a few other small herbs.

The flowerbed beside the back door is dominated with a HUGE oakleaf hydrangea and a few hostas. There are also a few astilbes in there that are struggling with this heat and drought.

This area is also filled with many potted plants, the lemon, lime and fig trees I bought on my trip to Monticello along with some rosemary, boxwood, hydrangea, lemon verbena, ferns and an elephant ear plant that’s an offspring of my mom’s plant.

There’s another flowerbed at the the far end that has a beautiful hydrangea, oregano, the sage I was talking about yesterday and a few other plants.

This garden space is quite lovely this summer. All of the plants are pretty much their mature size now. This is one of the areas of the garden that I worked on first. This part of the garden is one of the ones that looks best all year long. I have my gardens divided up into sections based on light, sun, water, soil and location. All in all I have 7 distinct areas in my garden.

How many different garden areas do you have?

Chiot’s Run Garden Tour
The Middle Garden
The Side Garden
The Front Hillside Garden
Mr Chiot’s Mailbox Garden
Garden Tour: The Front Garden

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.