Sunday, December 8, 2013

Recap of 2013 in My Gardens (Part 1)

Since I just started my blog in these winter months when there's nothing to report on the Garden Progress front, I thought I might take a post or two to recap what I did this year in my gardens. Please refer to the map on the page, My Gardens, above, for an idea of the relative locations of the garden areas I mention.

Spring came late in 2013, (six weeks later than last spring, which was several weeks earlier than usual) with snows much later than average (any snow after St. Patrick's day is a late snow in southeast Iowa). Additionally, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my femur (upper leg bone) in March, which really couldn't have been more inconvenient in terms of timing -- why couldn't I have figured this out a few months earlier, when I had nothing to do all winter in the garden? So between keeping off my leg to allow it to heal and the spring which never seemed to come, it was nearly May before I could do anything in the gardens.
Look at my poor crocus, covered with a late snow....

But it was probably for the best that spring came late, because it gave my leg a chance to heal by the end of April. If it had been nice outside, I probably would have been tempted to ignore my doctor's orders and start stomping on a shovel to dig things!

Because I had big plans for the gardens this year that I had been thinking about all winter. But despite the delays, I did end up getting most of it accomplished, specifically my three main garden improvements: 1) finally got my Dream Gazebo, 2) enlarged and replanted the North Border and 3) finished redesigning the Kitchen Garden.

Dream Gazebo

Since first viewing our five-acre property in late 2007 when we were looking for a rural house, it was obvious to me that a gazebo was needed on the south end of the land. The trouble was, we had other financial priorities, plus the price of materials spiked just after we moved here in early 2008. New gazebos cost almost $6,000, and that just wasn't in our budget. And used gazebos are not as plentiful as I had hoped. For five years, while mowing I would often pause and sit in the spot where I planned to put it, wistfully imagining myself sitting in my Imaginary Gazebo....

In February, I finally found a used gazebo on Craigslist for a fraction of the cost of new ones, located about 60 miles from here. (It had been custom-built for the owner by his carpenter brother as a wedding gift nearly ten years ago, but he had since divorced and his new girlfriend didn't want the gazebo around any longer as a reminder of the ex, so it had to go, luckily for me!) 

Unfortunately, most of the truckers who haul things on trailers didn't think it could be moved, because this particular gazebo has such a tall roof (non-detachable), too tall to pass under the bridges over the interstate while on a standard three-foot-tall trailer. So I finally found a young man who was willing to build a trailer of sorts out of lumber and very small wheels, and tow it along 60 miles of back roads to my house, which took nearly six hours.
After six hours of slow towing on soft back roads, my Dream Gazebo finally approaches!
(Note the very low clearance under the jury-rigged trailer.)
Because the ground was so soft that day, he had to park it on our driveway for several weeks until a hard frost allowed him to tow it across the surrounding fields to its intended spot on the south end of our property. Then I paid a foundation guy to level the site, put down gravel, seat it precisely so it lined up with our pond, and anchor it into the ground with treated lumber (it can be very windy there, on the top of a hill outside our windbreaks). 

We were finally able to paint it white (with the interior of the roof sky blue) in late July, although I still need to scrub and paint the deck gray. (Next spring as soon as weather permits.) I rented a manual sod cutter and removed the grass around the sides so I can plant a few things around the gazebo, which I will also do next spring. It really looks pretty nice, our shining white gazebo on a hill. Even better than my Imaginary Gazebo.

I still need to paint the deck, but isn't it pretty with its new coat of white paint?

Perfectly aligned.

 I will cover the two other main garden improvements of 2013, and perhaps a few minor improvements, in my next post(s). Thanks for reading!

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