It's All Coming Together

Time has such a funny way of slipping up on you, doesn't it? It seems like only a year or so ago that we were moving back to NC from MO...when in reality, it's been almost four years ago next month. Wow...time flies...!

What brought this to the forefront was the blossoming of our pink dogwood tree and our azaleas this past week. We just missed this annual rite of Spring that first year we moved into Casa 3917...had to wait 11 whole months to see what pretty colors we had purchased...:-) And, to learn that the previous owners had NOT planted a single, solitary daffodil or iris on the property, and only a piddling few daylilies. No worries...we fixed that little oversight.

Pink dogwood blooms in front-2013

Azalea in bloom in backyard
And then in July of '09, we embarked on our four-year plan to turn the back quarter-acre of our property from an unused, overgrown eyesore into an oasis. As I paused today between weeding and watering, I realized how close we are to turning that plan into a reality. Well, not exactly that 'first' plan, but a later much-revised version, don't you know?

Yes, we have done a ton (or ten) of work on our property. And, that is not only an investment of time and money, but also of faith...that we will actually be here to enjoy it. Remember, we have been married 36 years (soon to be 37, end of May) and have moved a total of 13 times (not counting a few temporary housing situations while waiting for our house to close, etc.). That means that making it to the 4-year mark is rare...based on the law of Adsit averages. Making it to harvesting fruit from an orchard we planted is unheard of.

So, you will understand how thrilled we are that almost all of our 20 fruit trees we've planted in the Orchard (or NW quadrant of the Way Back) are flowering this year. And, how nervous I've been with our recent cold spell, fearing a nip in the buds. Just one apple, please...and maybe a plum, peach, or pear. Is that too much to ask?

The Orchard was the one part of the original four-year plan that didn't change very much from design to completion. We found, after we began planting, that we could expand the number of trees from 14 to 20, especially since we discovered dwarf fruit trees. And, these 8-to-12-foot-at-maturity babies work perfectly, because we have a 15-foot height limitation (due to the easement that Duke Energy holds for the transmission lines). All we have left to do in this quadrant is a Pollinators Bed, designed to attract the bees and butterflies. Remember: no flowers, no bees; no bees, no fruit.

The strawberries, which were moved last year to their permanent bed in the Berry Patch (NE quadrant of the Way Back)...and because of this move, carried very low expectations for production this year...are flowering and showing signs of putting on fruit already! Yea!! We may only get enough for a few bowls of cereal...or an ice cream sundae or two...but that's OK. It's their "growth year." We are also seeing blueberries forming on all 9 bushes...and if I get the bird netting on them this year, we might harvest enough for a pie...or some muffins...and some homemade jam. The blackberries are healthy and growing, with tiny green buds foretelling flowers to come. Of course, if they were already in flower, Nana/Momma/Edith would have called this cold snap "Blackberry Winter." They are a little more tricky to cover with netting due to thorns on a couple of the varieties, but we are ready to make it happen when the fruit starts setting. Am I counting my blackberry cobblers before they hatch?

While technically not a berry, we have the two Concord grapes and the six new Flame Seedless grapes in the Berry Patch, too. I pruned the Concords severely this Winter, as they have had no pruning since we planted them three years ago, and I don't mind telling you I was worried that I might have been a little too enthusiastic with the shears. All's OK, though, as I noticed new growth swelling at several nodes on Saturday. Whew! (Still no sign of growth on the newbies, but I'll give it a couple more weeks before I begin to fret.)

I'm proud to say that every single rose bush in the Rose Garden (SE quadrant of the Way Back) is leafing out and budding up! This was last year's big project (before 2012 went off the rails at the end of May), so seeing visible signs of success does this gardener's heart good. We have filled in some of the gaps this Spring with three Queen Elizabeths (pink, Grandifloras), two First Prizes (pink, hybrid teas), one Kordes Perfecta (yellow to white with pink edges, hybrid tea), three Always and Forever (red, hybrid teas), and one Pope John Paul II (white, hybrid tea...I kid you not...:). That brings the grand total to 68 roses (15 in the back yard, 53 in the Rose Garden/Way Back). Yeah, we are nuts...about roses...:-)

And that brings me back around to the SW quadrant of the Way Back, where we have our Kitchen Garden. Here is where we began the transformation by planting two rows of tomatoes and peppers that very first year...and that let us know we had mountains of work to do with our less-than-perfect soil. The genesis of the four-year plan. In that original plan, we had stretched the Kitchen Garden over the center path, covering both the SW and the SE quadrants. Ah, such enthusiasm! Of course, coming to our senses and reducing the amount of square footage dedicated to producing food for two people allowed us to create a garden dedicated to scent and beauty.

So, this quadrant has undergone the most change. The biggest change this year has been the addition of raised beds to what I've previously called the Cool Season garden...and the creation of wide, raised rows in the Warm Season (or Row) Garden area.

Purple iris reblooms in front - 2013
So, that's a verbal tour of where I spend most of my waking hours. I'll try to post pictures to keep you updated, but you'll understand if my posts are sporatic during the hectic Spring months, won't you?

And, what's next, you might ask? Well, we have all but ignored the front yard. I did plant those daffodils and iris (like this purple one that's in bloom right now), so I could have my favorite flowers welcoming us home. And we cleared out a few cedar trees that were blocking our view of the street.  But because we weren't concerned about a move in the near future (read that: in the first three years we were here), we were least concerned about "curb appeal." I have ideas about some changes, but for now, I'll let the lawn service take care of things. Status quo, don't you know?

Meanwhile, I think I'll take my coffee on a walk to see what has changed in the Way Back overnight. Always such a pleasure...especially when I can see how the plan has come together. Ahhhhhh....


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