Thursday, July 3, 2008

A gift for gardening

A dear friend of mine is blessed with a fabulous gift for gardening, one that she doesn't give herself enough credit for. Last Labor Day weekend, she surprised me - on her vacation, no less - by planting a small garden of native flowers beneath my living room window. It looks fabulous this summer.

Yesterday, I asked her for suggestions about my edible landscaping dilemna, and at the end of her day, she had plans in place for me!

She writes:

You can do both. (He) can have his raised beds, and you can have your more
traditional landscaping. It is not as hard to mix formal and informal as you might think. The key is to plan your hardscaping so that you will never have to move it. It is because your yard is small that going vertical will not only create added space, but will also help you delineate certain areas, e.g., the patio is a good place for the formal raised beds because you will need easy access to the herbs and vegetables. Raised beds also provide the opportunity for built-in seating. Who doesn’t like to brush their hand over mint or oregano just to sit there and breathe in the scent, or snip a few mint leaves to crush in their lemonade while dining al fresco? Creating a lawn of edible ground cover between inset flagstones is another formal touch. Crushable thyme thrives the more you step on it so a small play lawn of the stuff is perfect for little people who are constantly on the move.

Orient all structures and plantings toward the south which is the direction of the sun. Trees like cherry, apple, peach and plum should be planted at the back of the garden. Their shade will fall to the north away from the garden in the summer, and they will act as a windbreak for the garden during winter. Leave room around the house for your deck, but build your raised beds into it. Two levels with the tallest on the
northern edge and the shortest at bench seat height. That way, every 4 feet you can put down two feet of boards for a seat. Your deck will have built in seating on the planters, and you will have a raised work surface when you are gardening.
So there. Edible landscaping designs for the lot-limited in less than a day! Now, I just need to get to work...

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