How does my garden grow? Part 1

There’s nothing like having the ideal-sized garden. If you can’t have a garden, you need a balcony. It should be required.

Ideal for YOU, of course. My ex in Germany couldn’t get enough g a r d e n. The aerial photo below of our house in 1999, five years after its construction, shows less than half of the entire property. Behind the vegetable garden there was a pond, behind that was a hill made from the earth they excavated to build the house and behind that there was still so much that we simply planted a small forest.

It made him happy. Not me so much. I am not a gardener. Not on that scale anyway. Now that I have a tiny garden, I’m changing. It was a fantastic place for children’s birthday parties and garden parties, though! Once the boys got older, they were more like their ma (and all modern kids) and stayed inside most of the time to their pa’s dismay.

Oh, wow, I’m only seeing it now! There he is! Right at the beginning of the slab-stone walkway to the right of the vegetable beds. Light-colored pants, blue shirt, hand out the way it was when he held a cigarette. I think you can even make out his little bald spot!

By the time we sold the house, the trees were all very tall, the swing-set and sandbox had long been removed, we had buried two beloved cats near where the sandbox had been, had wisteria covering the front stoop on a wooden frame-like roof-thing we built ourselves, but that pile of junk directly to the left of my ex on the edge of the property was still there.


Fast-forward to 2017 (I’m sorry about my over-use of clichés, really I am) and to this tiny plot in front of the 90-something-year-old house I just bought. A gorse-bush, a hostia, grass-like stuff, a crooked brick attempt at an edge and a collapsing front retainer wall.

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Luckily, there is a service that comes once a week in growing season to mow lawns on our street for $10. And although I think they deserve every cent, I hated this front yard and didn’t want to pay to have grass mowed that’s not a beautiful lawn.

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The strip right in front of the porch looked like this. ⇑ I didn’t feel that that was doing anything to keep water out from the room under my front porch and may have been just sucking it into the wall.

I do everything both on a whim and after careful research and meticulous planning. I asked the boss of the lawn mowing crew for an estimate to landscape my front yard, but he never gave me one. I asked Luigi and his price scared me half to death. One day, I met a man who was working on a neighbor’s house, found out cement/concrete was his specialty and showed him my front yard. He gave me a reasonable price to pave the strip in front of the porch and only a little bit on top to remove the collapsing wall by the sidewalk. He — or his son actually — got straight to work:

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(What do you think? I think there should be a layer of something between the earth and the cement. But I’m never quite sure how things “are done” since I spent most of my adult life in Europe where everything is done thoroughly to a fault.)

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Here’s a spot (above) that shows that something had settled one time.

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The trench was dug, the wall removed and rather than build a new one and watch it tip over with time, we just smoothed the edge of the yard to a little slope.

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The bricks were also removed — see stack above.

Then dad, let’s call him Fred, arrived with the cement and went to work! I watched and took pictures and although I assured him I’m just really curious (and I am), I think it made him a little nervous or distracted. But we had a nice chat while he worked and explained to me the history and wonderful properties of cement.

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That’s how they make those little borders (above)!

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We were chatting away and I remembered I had the old, broken house numbers sitting on my windowsill and asked if he could embed them in the cement. No problem! ⇓2017-08-28 12.45.09

Anything else? Well, now that you’re asking, I do have a little pebble and rock collection…2017-08-28 12.45.19

This I actually regret because they’re not so obvious as I would have liked, but this piece of rock came straight from Tintagel Castle in Wales and I figured, it was good enough for King Arthur (that’s where they say he was born), it’s good enough for me. ⇓2017-08-28 12.45.47

And four little stones I picked up and love and had on my windowsill and should have left there. Que sera!2017-08-28 12.45.54

And, after it almost dried, the pavement looked like this! ⇓

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This is why I wish I hadn’t distracted him: the rainwater does pool a little rather than run off. So far it hasn’t come inside the basement, though. That’s what I get for paying cash to a guy on his lunch break from a day job.2017-08-30 07.12.49

Enough for a part 1. Work to do!  I’ll finish the story later!


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