Gardens Taking Shape

The recent abundance of rain is wonderful, and I surely wish that the catchment ponds and swales were in place to capture what is running off my land.  However, with the newly planted trees and tilled soil some of it is percolating down instead of flowing out.  The rain has also slowed progress to some degree, and the soil is too wet for any large vehicles to drive on.  Our next big issue is: water.  How best to capture roof run-off, greywater, watershed, and how to keep it until its needed in the hot, dry days of summer.  In the coming week we’ll be talking to many authorities on water to come to a sensible solution that fits in with the tenets of permaculture.  For one thing, this rainy winter probably won’t be repeated often, and so less water will be filling the swales.  However, as the loam deepens and the plants mature, less and less water will be needed until the property takes care of itself.  That’s the goal, and it has been done successfully elsewhere. 

Meanwhile, tomorrow morning I drive my daughter back to Oregon State University (Beavers, not Ducks!) and I’ll report from the road. 

A lot of planting and shaping has been going on despite the rain, and the garden is taking shape.  As I walked down yesterday evening, I had the feeling that the property was larger, because there were pathways and destinations gradually emerging.  It was an interesting feeling, that I couldn’t take in the property in one glance around anymore.  The destruction phase is in the past and a new life has begun to emerge.  For every garden has a character – a personality.  It is more than the feeling you get from being in it.  It is the interaction between ponds, soil, shade, plants and all the animals and insects that call it home.  All that nuance and chemical exchange that makes a habitat.  With permaculture, humans fit into the puzzle, not as lords and masters but as part of the interaction.  It is a wonderful feeling to enable a garden such as this, which will be organically teaming with life from soil microbes to circling raptors, and not feel as if I were intruding.

Here are some photos of the progress:

Skinned palms

The palm trunks that have been left standing were painstakingly skinned to create a different effect (rather than just a beheaded palm tree!).

Arching bamboo

Bamboo not only will supply building materials, but it provides upright, arching interest in the garden.  Some rocks have been placed near planted areas as focal points and resting spots.  All around the fruit trees and bamboo are smaller plants, which are the beginnings of the plant guilds which will become much larger and take up most of the property.  The palm logs and piles of boulders are awaiting use in the rain catchment streams, ponds and swales.  Our dog, General Mischief, is making  sure the garden smells right, in his own special way.

Entrance-way

This is the entrance-way to my front door.  The geraniums climb up a chain-link fence on the left adding vivid color most of the year.  There is also on the other side of the fence a pyracantha, a honeysuckle, a Double Delight rose, and a purple butterfly bush that I’m training to arch overhead.  Once in a garden in Hawaii I walked through a tunnel formed by two butterfly bushes planted close together.  I don’t want to remove any of the lantana that lines the right side of the path because it is such a great nectar source for butterflies, so I just have the one butterfly bush.  I’m not bothered by the low branches because I’m short, but my visitors often have to duck.  As it fills in I keep pruning it higher.  If you see something brown by the front door, that would be my other dog, Sophie, who wants back on the couch even though the weather has cleared and it is warmer.  So spoiled!

Frustrated gophers

These are the holes of a frustrated gopher.  My raised garden beds I constructed out of old unpainted bookshelves and lined the bottoms with aviary wire.  In the top bed is Swiss chard, shallots and garlic.  In the bottom bed are white and red potatoes.  Sorry Charlie!
Tomorrow starts early for a long car trip, so I’ll say good-night now.  I’ll keep you posted!   Thanks for reading.

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