Plant it, Grow it, Eat it: our small green sacred Zone 3 Garden space
Welcome to a tour of our June Garden! Woops, sorry, the hose is out. We’ve been watering the grass a couple of times a day as we just put in some new sod. This past winter was so dry, about a third of our lawn needed replacing. This is the first year I have taken my yard and garden seriously, once again. I haven’t really been well enough the last couple of years to be sure to give it the time and effort it would need. There are three motivating factors this year: I feel better, and am forcing myself to be more active daily to continue to feel better. Prince William is coming for the month of July. Half of my life is spent preparing for his visits and dreaming of seeing him again! And, I absolutely love gardening. I find such solace, peace, edification, and renewal there – and this year – lots and lots of ants!
This our 13th summer in this home. Of course, the first summer didn’t even have top soil. The arctic primrose used to line the front flower bed, and I will have to break up the plants and transplant them to fit into the entire row next spring. I still love how they hold their space and welcome the world with a hot shot of yellow before anything else in the neighbourhood is blooming, almost immediately after the snow melts.
We’ll visit the front yard later. For now, duck under the apple tree, through the gate and down our long sidewalk to our back garden.
When we built our home, we cantilevered two spaces on the side of the house, so I tucked an outside mirror into the niche that created which adds a little unexpected giggle getting to the garden. This is a long walk and I have planned to paint canvases for the fence to have a gallery walk there in the summer on the way to our Zone 3 Garden. I have not done that yet. Maybe this winter? I need a partner to paint with! We used to have solar powered lamps along the walk for night parties, but we find we don’t entertain as much anymore, so took them out. I really loved the side lights in the dark. The hanging ornamental apple tree at the end of this walk bursts into spring with the most spectacular large pink blossoms.
I used to have a gorgeous Polish Clematis here, but after it died, the next two didn’t take… so now I enjoy the Scarlett Runner beans. Love, love, love the flowers as a garnish or in salads, and the beans are scrumptious, too. Sweetpeas remain one of my all time favourite flowers.
Turning into the back garden, first week of June, the lilac is a powerful bouquet of the most delicate fragrant blooms. I could sit in my living room, at the front of my house with the back door open and enjoy their perfume. Though only a 7-10 day spectacle, such a joy. Below, you will see it at the beginning of June, in the sod laying collage.
… and at this phase of life, I can tell you…. putting in sod in your 30’s and 40’s is much easier than putting in sod in your 50’s or 60’s. Hello, chiropractor! Vanja did it all by himself (not 50 yet, but next month!)…
A close up of the delicate petals.
On the sidewalk, as it turns with the house toward the back deck, looking to the back corner of the yard. Behind the lilac are my Saskatoons and currants. Under the lilac are my garlic and leeks. Beside them, in raised planters, is arugula. Both planted at the end of April, on the same day. One is ready to eat, and the other variety taking a little longer to germinate.
On either side of the stairs to the deck I have my kitchen gardens: herb garden A and herb garden B. Above in the back bed I have the sage, both Italian and Greek oregano, thyme and purple beans in a row along the back of the bed to grow up the rails. In the front middle, leaf lettuce, and to the right, some lambs ear drowning in the pot that does have lots of rocks at the bottom, but it appears we forgot to punch the drain holes in this one. The rain this year has them growing in my Zone 3 Garden hydroponically!
This is the potted herb garden. The basil was planted the end of April and still just peeking through. It has been in this holding pattern for 6 weeks, waiting for the hot sun to raise through the earth. To the right of the basil trough is a large tub of spinach. Behind that, and counterclockwise: rosemary, cherville, dill, cilantro, mint, flat leaved parsley. Of course, vines and potted flowers to flank the herbs. Below, my basic 3 weeks into June.
Absolutely crazy about the convenience of these herbs with my summer cooking. Below, is what you see from the top steps of the deck.
…the back patio with the table and outdoor sink.
Last year’s project was the new deck. The first one was sinking, and I wanted to enlarge it a bit. I had my kitchen herb garden above, where the table on the deck is now. It was a wonderful convenience to step out and pluck what I needed, but it was time to enlarge the upper outdoor space as much as we could. Once that was finished, we had the outdoor kitchen put in. It is just a grill with a side gas stove and a buffet, but such a lovely outdoor cooking niche just around the corner from my indoor kitchen. I couldn’t ask for more in the hot summer month(s). But, back to the yard of our Zone 3 Garden 2016, first.
Coming along the walk around the corner of the house, you will find yourself on a huge circular patio. The entire yard has raised gardens all along the perimeter of the fence and two other raised beds around the circumference of the circle. Behind the above chairs is one of my tomato beds. Ah! I adore tomatoes! To the right of the chairs, another large tub of spinach and then nasturtiums and flowers.
Above is the same view from further away, chairs removed for greater visual, with the lilac tree in full bloom. Along the fence, there are more tomatoes. Behind the first raised bed of tomatoes, are three haskap or honey berry bushes, and beside the lilac tree is an Evans Cherry tree.
Third week of June, and one of the gorgeous planted pots is on its last legs already! You can see how beautiful they both were in the first “turning into the garden” photo the first week of June. The ever ebbing tide of the Zone 3 Garden…. but this year, as I planted end of April and it has been growing weather since, as the pots were planted and out early, they are needing replacement – but this is far, far, too soon. Today is June 26 and both above plants didn’t last more than 2 months. Usually, they will last three. I loved them, but have replace them with a similar, but thankfully “price slashed” pair. Not as pretty, though.
I missed some views in my first go round of photos from the Zone 3 Garden 2016. Here, I have stepped off the walk and continued straight onto the grass to get a view of the back porch from the side yard.
I love these on my tables…. last year both plants lasted the entire summer. This year, and two months, and both are on their last legs.
The view from the back of the yard toward the deck (I know you’ve seen it already)…. the middle circle used to be a fountain that we converted to a fire pit… only because the large three tiered gorgeous cement fountain I wanted would interfere with larger parties when we put a table over the fountain. The fountain was rigged up to be turned on by a switch in the house, so it makes me a bit sad to lose it, but it was too small for the space and was problematic as the water would evaporate on a hot sunny day, and it needed filling continually.
Another side view a couple of weeks later just for me so I can see the growth difference. This is what you see as you continue to come into the yard from the side yard side walk. This is the first time I have ever planted red in my garden. It has always been a purple garden with a few shots of pink. But, somehow, I find, as I age, that those deeper “old fashioned” historic garden colours now hold a strong appeal when they used to be so off putting.
And up on the deck. Immediately to the left of the shoe rack is the back door. We had the BBQ cabinets built to fit the space and are thrilled with the final result. My only with would be to have 2 more feet of width. When we pull the table out, we can seat 8 up here, but the people at the back cannot get out, so we find we use it as a buffet. We still tend to take the food down to the other table which was not my initial intent.
The little side buffet has nothing under it but shelves for housing whatever I put there.
Above, the view out of my back door. You will see the bench I take all of my food photography on immediately to the right. I would like to be more creative, but usually we are about to eat the food, so the process goes like this: open the screen fast – slap the plate on the bench – snap snap snap snap snap – “Enough Valerie. It’s getting cold!” Side view – snap snap snap snap snap. And back onto the island for eating. Poor Vanja. That is why I am not known for my food styling and why anyone would recognize any of my food photos. The bench. The bench. The bench. The bench. The bench.
Immediately to the left out of the back door. The two gas burners are covered with a stainless steel plate which makes a wonderful work surface. I sometimes have my Thermomix there for outdoor cooking, too.
To the right of the grill is a little shelving ditty that is accessible from the side yard and behind the post I have a broom and a fire extinguisher. The steel doors also just contain shelving for my deep fryer and cleaning supplies. No need for an outdoor fridge or oven. We have two ovens in side. And there is an outdoor sink by the other table across the yard, which is perfect for fertilizing and hand washing.
When we put in the grill, we were careful to be sure that the heat would not burn any part of the house, following regulations and using common sense. However ,we did not count on the splatter. Oh, the splatter! All over the kitchen window a fine film of grease would accumulate after every grill. So, Vanja designed a cover template out of cardboard. We used it all winter and it worked like a charm. We had it built by Four Bees in Edmonton. It was not expensive and no more splatter!
From the end of the table, turning around to look the other way, there is another door to the deck from the master bedroom which is wonderful at night for a cross breeze.
Again, you can see the pergula and the second table and chairs beside the outdoor sink, below. The sun is glorious.
The views above, and below, from outside the master bedroom door leading to the deck of the Zone 3 Garden 2016.
The herb garden, above, is just below the master bedroom door leading to the deck.
Remember the walk we arrived on? Just past the weeping ornamental apple tree are more raised gardens, below.
You should see the hosta, above, now. It is only a week after this photo, but almost twice this size. I think if I stood still, I could hear it grow.
From the golden raspberries, over to the back patio table, above.
From the back patio table, my St. Francis raised bed with garlic, leeks, violas and sweet peas that I am working to train to grow up the lilac tree!
I have honeysuckle flanking both sides of the pergula, but one took off, and one has not. Direction. Shade. Sun. This is the side with my Saskatoon and currant bushes.
This sink is a god send for fertilizing the flowers and annuals. We use buckets and it doesn’t take long. I have pots of plants sitting on the raised beds this year. They were build exactly at seating height and I have cushions that I supply when hosting outdoor parties for people to use when perching on the raised beds. You can see my columbine. I prefer blue, but they don’t seem to live for me. They are all stunning. I have to have one as they are reminiscent of my childhood times at grandma’s in Clive Alberta where the most gorgeous flowers just grew wild in the forests and ditches.
An updated photo, one week later, and one week ago now, showing you the honeysuckle in full blooms. I love the ever changing landscape of my garden. And the lovely Hawes watering can from Marie!
Oh, we are back her again because I want to point out the chandelier over the table. We also had wiring brought out to this area when we built the house before putting in the top soil. There is a plug in out there and the original plan was to have the outdoor kitchen there, but the trekking did not make sense – particularly as I use the BBQ in the winder and the rain where it is at. We bought a hanging candelabra, got Four Bees to drill holes through it, and stuck a row of clear Christmas lights into it. It is a lovely outdoor chandelier that I never tire of. In the middle, is a huge gold glass globe that is a separate piece, filled with another row of sparkly lights. I have always wanted to paint a canvas for that back fence, but haven’t got to it yet.
I have two sweet pea “trees”. Mom has been over the last couple of years, “Why are you not cutting these?” It was all I could do to grow them. I look forward to having fresh flowers in the house this summer. Below is mom with some for her cousin, Louise, a couple of years ago in my Zone 3 Garden 2016.
Looking back into the garden from the opposite side of the house that we came to the yard from, you can see the sweetpeas to the right. We are standing right under the cherry tree. In front of us is a huge cluster of the most tender and delicious French Tarragon.
Moving forward, and to the right…
Looking back on to the side of the yard we came in on, now. The haskaps, or honey berries are immediately in the front of the photo above.
And the raised tomato garden from one end. I get so much satisfaction from these photos, week to week, month to month and year to year. Below, the sod had just gone in and the walls are filthy.
Above, a week later, the sod has filled in and already looks fabulous.
Heading back to the front yard… if you are still with me. Most likely, you left long ago. Few would still be along for the tour. I am a big garden snoop, so I am trying to not miss a thing. Directly in front of this gate is the Harcourt apple tree that provides quite the canopy, now. I am training roses to grow over the gate.
A few years back, I trained a Virginia creeper… it went all they way rather quickly, but I couldn’t stand walking under it. It was dusty and filled with bugs and even a birds nest. That was the only nice thing about it. I have read that roses provide a much more pleasant “walk through” experience, and if I can have a touch of The Butchart Gardens in my Zone 3 Garden in Edmonton, I am all for that!
Above is the front bed we walked by on the way in, filled with Arctic primroses, peones and tomatoes. One of the peonies was my great grandmothers. They live so long that this is such a treasured family heirloom I hope to pass on to both of my daughters when they are ready.
Sod looks great already, eh? But the hedge is a massive disappointment. I adore hedges and wanted a perfectly trimmed one in the front yard of my forever home since I was knee high. I just did. This one was planted before the sod. The front part grows, the did does not. I am very sad about that.
Love the ornamental purple crab apple tree in the front. I knew it was a risk when I bought it, as they do tend to not take well, but this one has thrived.
On the other side of it now, the front bed has a huge well-loved weeping caragana as my childhood home was hedged in caraganas growing up. Another lilac for colour, a peone in the middle and the Arctic Primrose edging the bed.
On the other side of the driveway, the raspberries. Best thing I ever did. Not beautiful, but prolific. I get enough for the entire year. And certainly, nice than a plain bed of rocks!
So, here we are, at the front of the house, and time to bid farewell. It has taken me the entire month to get this post up, and out. I used to do a couple or three garden tours to show the growth and progress throughout the summer. Let’s see if that happens. It won’t be anything like this, but this is good for me. On either side of the garage, above, I sure hope those vines grow. I have planted beans in the back of the planter. They are about 5 inches high. Never tried this before, so am hopeful it will look pretty and they will taste good, too! These planters are almost impossible as it is so windy and almost nothing can grow lovely here. I have my fingers crossed. Now, on Monday, William, Aaron and Lauren arrive with Aaron’s mom. I cannot wait for them to enjoy this space. William loves raspberries and the first one is turning red. I cannot wait to see him pluck it from the bush.