Summer is still officially about a month away, but the classic Central Indiana humid heat has set-in his week. It’s not unusual for us to run 100% humidity, which, with all the rain we get in May, combined with temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s (Fahrenheit) makes for sticky, heavy, thick heat. My hair is curling and frizzing more than ever and the plants are growing at lightning speed, happily soaking-in the damp and the heat.
Our pace has also ramped-up, which is saying a lot, I think, given that we’ve been working pretty much every weekend since April Fool’s Day. This isn’t always the case for a gardener, of course, but this is what happens when we opt to re-do most of our infrastructure in one season–the weather and the plants will not wait. Blink and we’ll miss it, so we have to keep going. While we do get tired, the work is invigorating and rewarding in a deeply meaningful way. Each morning we walk-out with our coffee and tour the gardens, walking the path we are creating, the conversation between sections of our yard and the beauty of viewing them all together. If you, like me, are a fan of Regency and Victorian British Fiction, then you’ll understand the motivation–they’re forever going on long walks in their gardens. I want to do that, too, even if my yard is barely half an acre (the forest trail is much longer, which does help expanding our walkability).
To that end, we’ve been working on the main garden arbor and fence. Months ago I asked Brian if he’d be willing to make an arbor while he re-did the fence, which is something he’d already put on his to-do list, and so he agreed. I went ahead and purchased a climbing rose and clematis and have been keeping them alive (but not super happy in their small pots) in the greenhouse ever since. Our old main garden fence was a messy, unattractive (but functional) chicken wire and wood post set-up we’d put in place our first year and promptly ignored for every year since. It worked, and aesthetics were less important to us in those days than learning to grow healthy and delicious food. We know how to grow the food now, and aesthetics–the joy of the garden–are top priority this year. With Brian’s background in art, and my love of it, a marriage of form and function, beauty with purpose, is the goal.
I already detailed how we decided to move the main garden entrance to line-up with the raised bed garden path and the back fence gate that leads to the forest, creating a visually striking straight line that could unite these three spaces of the yard.
The arbor, then, becomes not just a marker of the main garden entrance, but a focal point that draws you down the path towards the main garden and through it. It creates a separate and distinct main garden space that can look and feel very different from the raised bed garden, and then keeps you wandering through it towards and into the forest (where we hope to put another focal point to keep you moving).
The main garden fence will mimic the look and feel of the arbor, which is decidedly different from the European Country Cottage vibe we’ve curated everywhere else–it’s Woodland Fairy-esque. The main garden is at the edge of the forest, and so speaks to the forest, while the climbing rose (a heritage pale pink tea variety) and clematis will help it speak to the cottage-style perennial/butterfly/herb garden on the border of the raised bed garden. The lay-out of the main garden, as well, is formal, with straight paths that wind you through and around it, and neatly aligned signs guiding you through it, making it a transitional space between raised bed/patio and forest wonderland.
I love walking the garden paths now, especially now that most of it has been planted. This weekend the kids helped me plant our 3 Sisters Bed–a mixture of corn, squash, and beans. We have sweet white corn, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, and Cherokee black beans and Southern crowder beans. The only item missing from the main garden now is Fall squash, which I’ve got three varieties started in the greenhouse. As the season progresses I’ll be doing photo-walking tours of the garden in full glory.
Brian hopes to complete the fence today, and then we need to finish clearing honeysuckle and mulching it up in the new compost area, which we’re carving-out still and will soon start forming. It’s next to the path to the small meadow between our thicket and the main forest. The thicket is still a rather impenetrable wall, but with more clearing and chipping, will soon be passable and usable again.
I need to turn my attention to the infrastructure of the greenhouse for growing-on plants I’d like to keep in there, and Brian wants to focus on replacing the plastic we had to duct tape after so many wind storms and adding proper doors and ventilation, as well as continuing to attend to its stability and structure. It’s our goal to pick away at this over the summer so we can be ready to keep using it in winter. We already have a heater, so as long as the heat can stay safely inside and we don’t lose too much moisture in doing so, it should work.
After that it’s the pond and the potting shed on the list. And I’m also doing a mini-makeover of the front of the house. We’ve had big plans for that for years, and so have let it just be, except it looks really bad and if any of you decide to come to the Homestead to pick-up products, I want you to know we care. Plus, I’m sure our neighbors would appreciate it–our home sits rather on display, being on the other side of the one “T” of our little neighborhood, so pretty much everyone looks at it or passes it. So, it definitely could use some love, even if it’s not the Big Long-Term Plan we’ve had in our heads. I’ll be revealing that soon, too. So, you know, the work never ends, which really, that’s part of the joy of the garden. It gives you food and beauty and also purpose and physical activity in the outdoors. It’s a win-win. 🙂