When I look back at photos of our ‘old’ garden in Vancouver, I can’t recall planting any of what I see !! So many fabulous plants – so complex and layered I can’t believe it. Life is so much simpler now that we have moved ……
I do know that I worked at Southlands Nursery seven days a week then , as I do now, and these plants had to care for themselves. Planting so thickly certainly makes weeds a non-issue. They can’t survive the competition ! Occasionally, some tall thing would catch my eye and get yanked out (often in flower!). Sometimes it wasn’t even a ‘weed’, but a crummy lily or an off-colour poppy that had to go. It would be an instant decision and never regretted. I do recall doing everything very quickly and, suffering from A.D.G.D. (Attention Defecit Gardening Disorder), made me ruthless and decisive with plant choices and combinations.
It wouldn’t be until late December that ‘the clean-up’ took place. I would sometimes occupy myself on Christmas Day by (finally) cutting back my 10′ mess of Romneya coulteri, which led to a total nuking of the front border. I called this ‘lasering’ – a really, really thorough cutting back, hand- grooming of every square inch until dusk. Into the New Year, I would usually get a helper from the nursery to help me, and it made it a lot easier ! I guess this was actual work, but ‘gardening ’ is really a synonym for ‘work’ that transforms what could be an ordeal into a creative process.
Every two winters, I would get 120 bags of a marvellous (made in B.C.) mulch called ’SEA SOIL’ delivered. This bi-product of our forest and fishing industries (combined), is produced in Port McNeill,B.C., up at the North end of Vancouver Island. Many gardeners love its texture and overall appearance, and plants love its nutritious,organic benefits. Brent and I would spread all 120 bags in one day. All borders and garden areas received about a 3″ layer of yumminess .
The rest of the year, was mostly spent sweeping up leaves, getting ready for the next garden tour, enjoying gin and tonics and hot tubs….and hiding from the horrible neighbours that eventually made us move and, sadly, killed this garden.
It was an amazing twenty years – shared with thousands of garden tourists and visiting garden celebs like Christopher Lloyd, Helen Dillon, Anna Pavord, Roy Lancaster and so many more. I still see photos of the garden popping up in just- published books and magazines , which is good as in that respect the garden lives on….
March 2, 2011