This whole project (meaning this particular yard and everything that has flowed from it) began two years ago when I purchased my home. The guy I bought it from had renovated much of the inside but had not tackled any of the outdoor work and it was in very sad shape. We were in need of some garden inspiration.
Yes, the backyard was particularly bad.
I was horrified by the quote we received from a landscaper for leveling, sodding the yard and putting in the garden beds. My partner Ian, who had done similar work on his own homes in the past, figured he was up for the task. It took us about six weeks over the summer of 2012, but slowly the yard and gardens took shape.
Here’s a little peek at how far we have come:
Through this blog, I am hoping to share some of the projects and decisions we’ve undertaken along the way: both for the build and the day-to-day yard work.
I don’t have any special training. Most of what I do is by trial and error, relying on suggestions and advice from friends and professionals, in person and online. If there is a better way, let me know. I am open to it.
My end goal is the desire to recapture a space like my grandmother’s yard when I was a kid. She had immigrated from Finland in 1930. When I was growing up, she and my grandfather owned a small two bedroom house in a Toronto suburb. The yard had a raised platform for her to hang the laundry and for us to launch our adventures. A traditional Finnish swing that had been built by my maternal grandfather could serve as a car, train or airplane depending on our journey. Privacy was ensured by the lilac hedges that ran the property line and tucked underneath were tiny lilies of the valley. No place smelled better during May.
She also had a round perennial garden with purple and yellow Violas juxtaposed against some tiny white flowers a little like Alyssium but which returned every year. Behind the garage she had a small vegetable patch where she would grow carrots, English cucumbers and rhubarb. My grandmother always had a four gallon pail filled with clean water beside the garden so we could rinse our freshly picked carrots before we ate them. The whole yard was dominated though by a huge cherry tree. For a few weeks every year, we would climb onto the garage roof and eat our fill, gorging on summer goodness.
When we were sent outside to play, this yard marked the passage of time in flashes of colour, scents and tastes.
As I talk to people about the gardens and gardening, it seems like everyone has a similar story. We are all drawn to a personal Eden: sunny summer days that we hope to recapture and share with a new generation. We do it in different ways and in different places from our original Edens, but they prove satisfying nonetheless.
Every week, I will publish some successes and failures from my garden and share the stories I collect from others. I am hoping to post lots of pictures and harvest a few tips. I look forward to hearing from you.