When I open the door of our greenhouse, the strong scent of tomato leaves and basil washes over me. I just stand there, because it is such a wonderful experience. The greenhouse is a godsend, since it has only recently warmed up here in Metro Vancouver. Called a season extender, it isn’t meant for year-round use, but that’s just fine. All I want is a tomato, a vine ripened tomato! I’ll get my wish….
Our cottage is perched on a hill covered with understory in the form of bushes, thimbleberry and salmonberry. We don’t have a yard, per se, so I rely on container gardening. We have a bed on either side of the greenhouse, a rose and hydrangea ‘butterfly’ garden, and a raised bed for vegetables. I am concentrating on containers, operating on the assumption that we still have a little summer left.
Everyone likes a bargain, especially if it’s a true bargain, not just an enticement leading to an impulse buy. Well, last week, I came across an amazing deal. We were at the hardware store and I decided to check out the garden store. Good move because I struck gold, coming home with 28 perennials for which I paid only $18 Canadian! After I got home, I immediately started keying them out in a little notebook: shade/sunny, drought resistant, slug magnets/slug resistant, height/width, color/blooming period. I have since been creating diagrams, working with combinations which will allow for blooming from spring to fall in specific beds and containers. Fun!
Because I am also working with terra-cotta pots, the unglazed ones will have to be stored in the shed over the winter to prevent breakage from freezing and thawing cycles. But, I’ve learned that if I keep the glazed ones against the north and west sides of the house, they have enough protection. We also have some large, concrete Italianate planters and I will be planting some of these new perennials in them, too. In fact, so much can be done with container gardening these days, we need little else. Combining vegetables, flowers, and herbs in the same pot is the perfect opportunity to practice companion gardening with magnificent results. Barely beyond the novice gardener stage, I still have the fervor of the neophyte. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than tending my garden. So restful and meditative. And plunging your hands into the dirt is so grounding! Nurture the plants and they nurture you…. I really like the way mainstream gardening is evolving, too. The simple window box has morphed into creations unheard of in our grandmother’s grandmother’s day. The current wave of urban agriculture and urban horticulture are gaining steam, transforming commonplace plots and yards into productive spaces, green spaces and areas of beauty. Outdoor ‘rooms’ are creating separate niches, each with a focus, a purpose and a feel. I very much like the idea of rooms and will be working to achieve such areas. It might take a year of two to get what I want worked out and established, but I’ll know when it’s complete. Another area to investigate is vertical gardening. Because of this hilly plot of land, I believe vertical is the way for me to go next and it could be the perfect backdrop, with beds or containers in the foreground. For instance, I’m going to start investigating twig trellises and panels. I would like to make a low one that will span about 10 feet. Not exactly a fence, but a visual divider about two feet high that will allow the viewer to focus on the plants in the bed: yarrow, speedwell, beebalm, red twig dogwood… Reds to attract bees and butterflies, scents that’re slug-proof. Wish me luck! Happy days are ahead of us with all of our gardening efforts.