My friend Nan expressed curiosity in a comment the other day about the way things are laid out on our property. This post is for her. If I divide my 3 1/2 acre property roughly into ninths, the first "ninth" in the northwest corner has our driveway, house, and pole barn. The house and barn sit atop a hill, and you can walk out of the basement through a door wall into the "valley" backyard. Our house is Cape Cod style, but without the cute dormer windows on the upper level (yet!) A garden, currently attracting many butterflies and bees of all sorts, runs across the length of the front deck. I walked out my front door to the front of my yard and faced slightly southwest to snap the photo above.
Turning slightly more to the south and looking down the hill, is our veggie garden, with the playhouse nearby and a tiny orchard of two semi-dwarf apples, two semi-dwarf pears, and a young peach tree. Four 4 by 8 foot beds are lined up in front of the playhouse. Currently, two are herb beds, one is a veggie bed, and one is home to about 32 wild-strawberry plants transplanted before we cultivated the soil for the larger vegetable garden in the left of the photo. Behind the playhouse, in an area that doesn't show clearly in this photo is the start of the berry bramble, currently home to 14 blueberries and 3 raspberry plants. Some "odds and ends" of vegetables are also planted there in a place that we will eventually plant with grapes (we're taking some time to improve the soil through compost and natural additions first.)
Turning toward the southeast, the fire pit is in the center right of the photo (though you can't really see it) and the rest of the photo reveals some of the wild edges I write about sometimes. The whole property looks a little bit like a "wild edge" right now. Our mower is in need of repair, and without much rain, there is little necessity of cutting grass anyway. Though the grass is brown, thistle and chicory and Queen Anne's lace spring up everywhere. Also in this photo is an area of low-lying marsh, complete with wild mint and cattails. Though it doesn't show much in the photos, a Weeping Willow that Senryu, our 18 year-old daughter, planted a few years ago thrives with its thirsty roots in this wet, fertile corner.
Turning more to the central part of our property, looking toward the back property line is a small pond, home to frogs, turtles and small sunfish and resting place for migrating wild waterfowl. The past few years of drought have left the water level low and the cattails are taking over the pond, so rather than water you just see reeds in the photo. Behind the pond is the lower slope of the "back hill." Wild roses grow there, amid apple trees that time has planted. The apples look and taste like Macintosh or some similar orchard escape, and this year they are thriving more than any of the apple trees that we have planted ourselves.
Turning finally toward the northeast, is the Chinese Elm tree and the little butterfly garden. You might be able to make out, way over on the left, the pale blue trellis, re-purposed from my children's crib, that I've shown in some of my close-up flower photos. This garden used to be in full sun, but as the Elm has grown, there is more shade and the garden is changing, evolving into a haven for shade-loving plants, as well as shade-seeking gardeners. The hill rises again behind the butterfly garden, and a dry-in-the-summer creek runs through the low place that divides the cultivated yard from the wild edges. This little creek runs behind the pond, widens out into the swampy marsh, and gathers itself back into a stream, before spilling over the rocks at the property line in several joyously musical mini "waterfalls."
Behind the creek, the back hill rises above the garden. Early in the morning, the sun rises over this hill hinting softly, to those flowers which close their petals at night, that another day has dawned.
photos by Aisling, August 26, 2008