Friday, June 15

Note to Caroline :Back Area (Gulch Garden) & Side Shade Garden

I thought I would update you on the back garden and new side garden. Remember when the area was unused and covered in Blackberries. You have been using the word "Gulch Garden" because I had told you that the land is known as Sullivan's Gulch. The history of the area was described by the neighborhood association as follows:

The Gulch - from Parkland to Shantytown to Freeway “The Gulch itself has a story all to its own. The Gulch was once filled with trees, a clear spring with waterfalls and a pool. The waterfall was near what is how 19th Street and was called Sullivan's Spring. It was a favorite picnic area. By 1894 the firs were harvested and the Union Pacific Railroad ran through the bottom of the Gulch. Between 1932 and 1941 the Gulch developed a town of its own, "Hooverville" or "Shantytown," where over 300 homeless men lived. By this time the Gulch was no longer used for picnics; the stream was stagnant and polluted. A fire in the Gulch destroyed most of Shantytown and in 1941, the last shack was torn down to prepare for a modern expressway. The freeway was finished in 1957 and, after much controversy, named the Banfield Freeway after the head of the Highway Commission instead of for Timothy Sullivan, one of the first people to settle claim on the land”. -Sullivan’s Gulch

 Neighborhood Association website, 2004

This is the side border that I am making by the house foundation

There was nothing planted on one side of the house, so I decided to stick some succulents that my friend Theresa gave me, intending to transfer  them in the spring. I did not think the area was suitable because I knew it was going to be shady and wet in the summer. I was pleasantly surprised that the cuttings doubled in size over the winter and were doing well. So guess what? They are staying and I have started to add to the collection. Why spend all that energy moving them if they are doing well?

Entry to the back "Gulch Garden"

I really enjoy the "Gulch Garden" even though it is a big struggle to maintain the area due to the blackberries that are always taking over. I think I like the garden because it is private and since no one can see the garden, I can be a bit more creative even though I am trying to stick to a natural look.

The problem with the area is the invasive blackberries. They must be the most hardy plant ever! Sometimes I think they would be a great villain in a Sci Fi book or movie. You know, where the blackberries are growing so fast that they are taking over the planet and killing our food supply. It is hard to rid the wild berry in this area of the country. The first year I found those drawers on the road, and started planting in them with vegetables. I did well with vegetables that year, but after that not so good. So I am working on amending the soil and have changed the design of the garden  using permaculture principles. Any suggestions? You know much more about the subject.

All this Mint started from only one branch of Mint last year.

What do you do with your mint? I dry it to make mint tea. I can also feed ChaCha  with mint. Not too much though. I am also going to attempt to make scented sachets and eye pillows for Christmas presents this year. I also saw that you can just use sprigs of it in cupboards to deter moths and ants. You can even use it fresh or dry around roses and other plants to keep pests away. Most hate the smell.

Ladies Mantle, Hosta, Poppy and Rhubarb

I have cut my rhubarb back and had intended to dig it out as it is always being infected with some sort of beetle every year. Now I am hesitating about doing it. I hate getting rid of plants. If this was a real condition I think I would call it something like plant guilt or anxiety. Defined as the the fear of getting rid of  plants that are alive and growing for any reason. The Hosta, Poppy and Ladies Mantle are new this year and are at this end of the garden space. There are also blue Cornflowers planted, but they have not flowered yet.

You can do a lot with free wood chips

This year my goal is to mainly do herbs, flowers and mix in vegetables. The bed on the left has Strawberries, Inpatients, Borage and Lillies. The mini drawer beds are planted with Zinnias that I saved the seeds from last season. I can't wait until the area fills in. There is another circular bed that is planted with various Herbs, Tomatoes and Perennials.

Just another view 

If you look to the right in this photo, you can see the wall of blackberries that I have mentioned in this note. They are impossible to dig out, and I cannot venture out too far because it is dangerous. The land abruptly drops down to nearly at a 90 degree angle. I now appreciate, rather than hate the blackberries. I appreciate them because they buffer some of the noise and add some privacy to my garden. 

They also provide natural wind screen prevention. I have found that late winter, when they seem dormant, is the best time I have found to cut them back. If you can manage to dig them up that is great and the way to go. This season I decided at a whim, to push them back with a spade so they grow the other way because I was frustrated that they had taken over 5 foot of my garden. I did not think it would work, but it does. Remember that the area is covered with acres of the stuff so this probably is not a great solution for your garden.

Well, that is it on the update, are there any new areas in your garden this year?

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