Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Year 2 ! 2005

Over the winter I lost my only tree- it was deemed unsafe by the city and a pain in the ass by the landlord next door. But beside the stump along the side of the apartments there was some unused space that looked promising and using an old support beam I created garden number two. It's affectionately referred to as the South garden and the original plot is now the North garden. The North garden gets lots of sun. The South, by due of the building gets virtually none. I decided I would make it my naturalized space and plant native woodland plants there. Which was good in theory but failed to take into account that the substance which was used to prevent the stump from sprout had the effect of killing anything near it. Even though I had dug the bed and filled it with lovely compost and fresh soil, the toxicity was severe- even nasturtiums died there. I managed to coax a foxglove and one lone columbine out it that summer but everything else perished. Another good reason not to plant edibles there!

The North garden thrived however and was lush and green. The violets returned first in all three colours. The lily bloom for what seemed like forever.The rosebush grew taller and had a few blooms that were deep pink and smelt heavenly. I added some purple cone flowers and black eyed Susans to fill it out.

The deck became my sanctuary. To make the most of the space I built a small platform on the other side of the stairs, just big enough to hold the barbecue and a couple pots. I built a bench where the bbq had been and using a couple planks created a removeable platform that doubles as a bed! Sleeping under the stars , surrounded by plants is ideal - until a raccoon steps on you while you're sleeping!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Containers were not enough!

Once my deck was completed and covered in pots I was still restless. I needed some real dirt to dig into. The only 'yard' we had behind our building had long be covered with gravel and use for parking. But I notice a small area between the staircase and the building next door that was not being used for much beside a junk pile. And it did get a decent amount of sun in the afternoon so I figured it was worth a shot. I cleared out all the garbage and dug deep into the poor excuse for soil. I found lots of debris- rusted nails, bottle caps and bits of metal, broken ceramic tiles and of course, plastic of every sort. I dug it all out until I reached sand, about 8 inches down and using compost, manure and topsoil, filled it all back in again. Now I had a garden!

My first plants were donations from my friend's farm in Niagara; I scored a wild rose, some lilies of the valley and violets in three shades- purple, white and a gorgeous magenta that I have never seen anywhere else. I also attempted to transplant a dogtooth violet but sadly it failed to appreciate it's new home. I also splurged on 3 columbines and an orange lily ( of which type I have long forgotten). I used an old window grate as a trellis and threw in lots of morning glory and scarlet runner seeds to climb it. A real garden at last!

Where it all began...

In 2002 I moved into my small apartment above a store on Roncesvalles. It's a lovely old building built in the 1880's and most of my flat is original, including the sunporch that hangs precariously off the back of the building. But it sorely lacks outside space- the front door opens to the sidewalk and out the back we have a lovely wooden staircase that ends at a gravel parking lot. Not much for a avid gardener to work with!

For the first two years I made do with a few containers on the steps and ledges and shared in the bounty of deck next door courtesy of my fantastic neighbours Mike and Britt. I am also fond of playing carpenter and love a challenge so after two years of mulling it over and drawing out plans in my head I built a deck. Actually more of a tree fort minus the tree but it works for me. One warm day in May I dragged my good friend Jason to the local lumber yard and we spent the better part of a day building a basic 6 ft square platform which I was able to attach to a steel beam that holds up the sunporch. A couple days and some salvaged lumber later I had a serviceble outside space on which to Bbq, sun and plant containers to my heart's content.

The view from above

The view from above
looking down from the top of the stairs 2004