This post has been in the works for many years. I have one of the worst planting strips I’ve ever seen in Portland. I think it’s about 10 inches wide—but that’s it. Honestly, friends and I have joked about it since I moved in, but I’ve learned a few things since then, and there ARE (at least) plenty of plants that work out there.
The heat dome last summer was the ultimate lesson. To my surprise, many of the plants there did great and showed no damage at all. Since the same cannot be said for a few others that I thought would be fine, I’ve spent some time mulling all of this over.
While weeding out there, I spent time thinking over what to write here. These are not complicated takeaways at all. I guess in a space this small, one that is the planting skirt to my garden stage, just a little ta-da is all that’s needed for this verbal fanfare.
So, xeric plants work well in this space. What a shock. That’s pretty much all I have to say about it. The only real issue here though is that both light and water have varied over the years. For the most part though, I don’t water this area at all. This is why there is ivy in the driest spot. I am going to replace it though soon to try something new.
Working on the “hell” strip had me associating words and immediately I thought about everything I was “going to hell” for, so then I thought, yes, my queer identity!
So the Pride Strip was born—and I had a great laugh. Why hadn’t I thought about this before? Now I don’t have to remove or change the colors, and I can ADD MORE PLANTS!
After I decided where I wanted to head with this little project I knew I had to talk to my neighbor friend to see if she wanted to extend my planting plan a bit to where the strip crosses over to her property.
Luckily, she was thrilled. Flowers are needed now and I want to see people smile when they see so many happy colors dancing.
I will add more plants, and I plan to sow seeds out there to liven it up. Since I’m hoping to open a new seed shop soon, I need to have more seeds sown on the property.
Some plants came home with me from work today too. I just had to get some plants in bloom since I have another Open Garden next Saturday.
Evan and I will be selling some plants so having the front area cleaned up seems like a great idea. I just hope that I will have enough time to clean up more. All of this rain is so depressing and it slows me down in the garden since I have to weed so much more. The weeds just won’t stop growing!!!
If by chance you’re wondering if I’m a Frank Zappa fan, the answer is yes. (“What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?” is one of my favorites.)
It’s my interest in ridiculous absurdity and playful creative juvenile responses to garden problems that led me here, so let me explain…
Sometimes I see problems and I just do my best, what I can, and what I’m physically capable of doing and this leads to well, more problems down the road.
This is what happens when your garden is your studio and you like to experiment with your medium.
But there are limits and limitations. Always.
It’s come to pass that I’m at that strange point in my life where I need to do something again. I think we call this “goal setting” but it feels a bit strange to say that out loud since I’m nearly 50. Horticulture is fun, but you need to keep acquiring skills by building upon those which you’ve only just mastered. I feel sort of stuck so I need to challenge myself. For once I’ve accepted the challenge of redoing things, but it’s been a slog.
The absolute worst part of my entire garden is this back corner. It’s kept me ill at ease for long enough and I am determined to improve it this summer. The plan is to slowly remove and replace the dead, dying, and sort of healthy arborvitae plants. It will be not-so-pretty for years but I need to wait for Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ plants to fill in. There are two there already, and I love them, but I wish I’d planted a whole row of them back when we moved in. (Sigh.) I will steady and add to the temporary bamboo fence this summer. It’s all that I can do.
Sure, a more permanent fence could be added, but we need to replace one along the entire south side of the house so that one is more of a financial priority right now. (It liked to fall over a bit this last winter so…)
In addition to the ugly hedge, I didn’t plan well for the ugly apartment building with a sometimes busy walkway right behind me. I planted trees to block the view from many spots indoors, but the longer I live here, I wish I’d planted more of a hedge or hedgerow along the back fence. Luckily, I am working on this spot too, but it’s a lot of reworking the garden in strange ways.
And it takes patience.
There is a also another tree that will be removed. A storm broke the top of my aspen a year ago, and it’s not well. I’m all for columnar trees at this point and shrubs. I want to keep this simple, but I will miss the sound of the leaves. It is noisy in my back garden and the leaves are lovely during the late summer. They are loud enough to distract you from the noise. It was a good idea, but…
This must make me sound like I really want a buffer from the outside world.
Well, I do.
I want to have a beautiful garden in a beautiful city at the base of an extinct volcano on the edge of one of our nicest neighborhoods. This is not too much to ask.
The other really big issue is the back window. All three sides of the back room have these 1970s windows but I’ve not yet “fixed” this situation to my liking. I still need to order a nice big European style wrought iron window box. It will definitely help.
But that is a lot of wall.
And it wasn’t originally like this.
I always wanted an old home and could only afford this one because of these goofy changes that decreased the value of the property. The kitchen was HORRIBLE but I have no photos of it anymore because my photos were not backed up when my ex crashed my old computer. The bathroom will be the next financial nightmare and then the lowered ceiling but that’s another story.
Outdoor remodeling has been a bit slow. I would love a covered area out there, but I will have to wait.
The lesson here is to tackle the problem and address it head on. These really are the worst issues left to deal with and all I can say is that the excitement of improvement is there, beneath my exhaustion. I’ve already been pruning things and it’s fun to see change. First you play with color and texture, and over time, it’s the light and shadows. I only wish I could win the lottery to get a lot done at once, but it will happen in time.
I love the challenge of the garden and gardening. It’s the goal now to challenge myself to improve upon what I’ve build from nothing. I’m ready.