As I await a Sears delivery, I thought I’d take this otherwise unusable block of time to answer FAQ’s about the new garden and our move in general. Sorry, I still cannot reveal the exact city — that will come in time — but based on the number of sync winks and perfect heads up’s and interventions, Divine Timing is obviously in effect!
On Saturday, we were running errands and needed some information from our friend Ingrid, who loves orchids. Just as I made contact with her via text, guess what we passed in the store? A random display of orchids. I had set aside yesterday to begin filling raised beds for all my transported container plants. Knowing we had a groundhog issue with a hidey hole near our shed, I had originally put all the plants up front, but they need such strategic placement due to all the mature trees. It’s very difficult — but not impossible — to eek out 6-8 hours of full sun. Our backyard, by contrast, gets full sun almost the entire day.
I hadn’t seen our resident “whistlepig” aka woodchuck for over a week and was reconsidering my front yard garden and backyard orchard. Guess who made an appearance an hour before I began filling beds? Yep. His hidey hole now has a brand new, low hanging wind chime for startle effect …
…along with a new application of fox pee (humanely harvested from an animal rehab facility). it was a still day, so the pinwheels weren’t whirling, but hopefully, the wind chimes will startle him as much as they do me.
LOL, if I were a groundhog, I would not frequent this yard! I’ve about jumped out of my skin on several occasions with my own pretty deterrents. I need to change my phone’s timer from the wind chime setting, because when it went off and kept chiming louder to remind me to empty the old refrigerator, I leapt to the yard with pounding heart, thinking a whole army of groundhogs was passing under and around all the chimes.
I haven’t seen him again, and to be fair, I’ve had zero damage to any plants. Given a number of other “just in time” synchronicities and Divine Interventions, I took his uncanny appearance just at that moment as confirmation to trust my nudge to make a front yard garden. It’s a great way to meet neighbors, looks pretty, and it leaves the sunny, fenced in backyard for a mini-orchard protected from hungry deer. I’m not sure how the front yard garden will survive the deer, but they don’t come around here often, so I’ll cross that bridge if and when it comes to me. I have lots of mint, hyssop, yarrow and fragrant flowers, since I read that deer don’t browse when their noses get overloaded with smells. We shall see …
I had made sigils (modified to my own design and helpers) before we ever found our house or even knew which city to explore. Among those sigils, I listed “David and Laura live in a compatible city with compatible neighbors” and “I have a right sized garden.” By “right sized,” I meant more manageable, so that I could focus on writing, eating out and socializing more than on full scale urban permaculture. In Goshen, a 1/3 acre yard-en and food forest managed totally by me made sense, but in our new, much more compatible location, I want time to explore our surroundings, as well as time to write more books.
I’ve manifested the space for creativity, but by “right sized garden” I did not (consciously) mean “no garden.” The rest of the sigils have come true in wonderful ways, or they’re continuing to unfold with surprising but joyful details. I have to trust that everything will work itself out. I’ve noticed groundhogs in other areas, but so far so good here.
We do have my trademark resident wasps already, situated very close to the front yard gardens. I don’t know why, but I have had excellent symbiosis with wasps as pollinators, organic predators for destructive bugs, and as vigilant guardians of my crops. I blogged about this dynamic in the post, “Slumlord Beekeeper,” discussing my Mason bee house, resident yellow jackets and predator wasps, as well as how wasps mysteriously kept our Madison neighbor from trampling my garden, while allowing me free, unstung passage wherever I needed to go. When this well intentioned but plant trampling neighbor marveled at how I could garden amidst the wasps, I just smiled and said, “Well, it’s my garden, isn’t it?” I’ve found that when pleas and suggestions don’t work, wasps tend to do the trick.
In any case, the day the movers brought the last truckload of our stuff here, one of them noted wasps building a nest in one of our front lights. David just smiled and said, “That was quick!” When the mover raised an inquiring eyebrow, David added, “They were invited.”
I also saw a hawk the other day after asking for day patrol, and a turkey vulture followed up to confirm a successful hunt. Now the red squirrels or (please say it ain’t so) baby groundhogs seem to avoid our front yard or scurry past as fast as possible. A few people have texted me with synchronous owl hoot reports immediately after I’ve put out telepathic calls for dusk and dawn owl patrol, so we’ll see how that works.
I prefer to live and let live, but I do get rather protective of my plants and my space. In Goshen, the hawk patrol did wonders to keep those nasty black squirrels on good behavior. If I told particularly naughty ones, “That’s it, I’m calling the hawk,” they would hightail it out of there for the rest of the day. I’ve telegraphed The Rules to potential thieves: eat clover instead of my garden, don’t give us ticks, don’t dig up any foundations on our property, and we can get along well. If you insist on devouring to the ground or destroying, I’m calling the hawk. And the owl. And the wasps. You’ve been warned. Be nice.
Several people have expressed excitement to see photos of the new garden. Please keep in mind that we only just moved in, so this year is a complete experiment to see what works where, including the possibility that “a right sized garden” for me consists only of daffodils, garlic and onions, along with a butterfly haven that happens to repel nibbling critters. I have no idea what this land will produce, but I do enjoy the cardinals, HUGE dragonflies, wasps and birdsong all day long.
We also love the park-like views from every window. Trees galore, and many of my favorites! Birch, magnolia, purple maple, blue spruce, dogwood, and weeping cherries: it’s like someone downloaded the list of “Laura’s favorite non-edible trees” and led us to a property that features all of them. If that’s “all” we have long term, then we’ll survive. Our city is loaded with food forests and hydroponics stores, so if all else fails, we can still have yummy community food options and indoor greens.
That said, David and I spent yesterday rehabbing the existing trees, since the previous owners had done nothing to maintain them. In another perfect timing experience, the arborist we consulted last Tuesday told us this season is the last moment we could have pruned these trees to a size that would allow us to keep them. Any larger and more mature, and they would have damaged the house or succumbed to disease or stress. Our place doesn’t look or feel like a rescue mission, but in many ways it is. We synchronously met the previous owner before these sellers on the day we bought this house, and she expressed relief and glee that gardeners were moving in. She had watched in sadness as all her decades of plantings got neglected by people with little time, understanding, resources, or interest in maintaining the beauty.
I’ll share some photos from this afternoon. We so love this weeping birch tree and hope to rehabilitate it back to full health. Yesterday, David spent hours trimming back dead branches, while I mulched the base and added Smart Pots on the Southeast side for sunshine and garden plants, but also for water runoff to help the tree.
Below you can see yesterday’s freshly filled Big Bag Beds, new wind chimes, pinwheels, and the remaining container plants awaiting a delivery of more soil. You can also see the freshly pruned weeping cherries as we look from our house to the street, as well as a purple maple on the right, the weeping birch on the left, and one of many blue spruces right by the street street.
Below you can see a 4:44 photo of the same beds. On the bench you’ll find a cherry tree branch saved for another magic wand like last year’s Asian pear offered, along with my “Live” root beer kombucha. Yes, this is a real time shot while I was out and about tending plants and watching shadows.
Contrast the light at this time in this photo above with the still bright sun in the backyard below, the intended spot of a future mini-orchard. Emphasis on mini. I do have some containers of herbs and native butterfly plants staged for planting in the existing bed of irises and clematis once I get more soil.
The mailbox area boasts abundant daisies in what the previous-owner to the last owners said was a red-white-and -blue 4th of July planting. One red lily looks too sad for photos, and the blue whatever seems to have died from neglect. Have I mentioned how happy this yard is to have a resident gardener again?! This bed bloomed earlier with yellow irises and yellow roses that I just deadheaded. It’s full sun all day, so maybe it will get a Smart Pot or two at some point. I decided to use Smart Pots and Big Bag Beds so that I won’t disturb the roots of existing trees. It also gives me a relatively low cost, low commitment way to experiment in the event that “right sized” means “no edible” garden.
On the possible agenda include an aronia berry bush (superfood ignored by most wildlife), flowering (edible and “deer proof”) quince, red currants (fruit in shade!), three columnar apple trees in containers, and possibly several blueberry bushes (which did fabulously in Big Bag Beds in Goshen). On the very, very maybe list of the extremely well behaved groundhog version of reality, I might also get some dwarf pear or plum trees. We. Shall. See.
For now, I enjoy looking at the weeping cherries and dogwood from my office window, with peeks of taller trees across the street. I can feel the fiction gears starting to turn now that I live in a spot more closely matching my necessary surroundings for writing fiction, and after planting wide varieties of daffodils, fritillaria, alliums and hyacinths this coming fall, it will be time to return to work on the healing Lyme disease book I began last winter.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little introduction to the new yard. This property has not yet revealed its name to us, but I’ll let you know when it does. Meanwhile, I wish you a Happy Inter-dependence Day. We’re all connected, much more than we know, even when we aim for more self-reliance and independence. When I received my PDC (permaculture design certificate), I was reminded that “the problem is the solution.” Even groundhogs, existing trees, a septic drain field, and a shady front yard. I’ll leave you with the Permaculture Design Principles, good things for us to remember on any day, especially this holiday weekend in the US: