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