Wednesday, 28 September 2011

In the Beginning was ...

The Lake Lookout from the other side of the lake.

When you have almost 5 acres to plant, it's a daunting task to know where to begin. My only experience up to now is with a suburban garden – fenced, regularly shaped, flat, with a lawn. If you wanted to plant something, you made a bed by removing the sod and perhaps adding some soil and fertilizer and then your plants. I got very good at lifting sod which then went to patch holes in the lawn, or into the composter.

Kelly Gardens is a whole different ball game. There is no lawn. It’s not flat, in fact the previous owner had named the property “Hazell’s Heights” because it is very hilly.
The old sign still exists, though it's on its last legs

Luckily, he had a road put in from the entrance almost to the top of the point – a distance of about 800 feet, and he had built bridges to 2 islands.
Bridge to the small island
Bridge to the  large island

There was a nice clearing where we could camp, a shed, an outhouse, and a couple of fire pits. He’d also built some very makeshift stairways from railway ties and a dock from skids weighted with stones and sunk into the lake.
David in the shed
The outhouse

But he wasn’t a gardener. He and his wife had planted a few of those bright orange day lilies that you see on road sides in July and a couple of spruce trees, which hadn’t really had a chance to grow because of the competition from the native underbrush, but the rest was typical of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Forest region.  White Pine, Hemlock, Cedar, Yellow Birch, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Red and White Oak with an understory of shrubs.
The road through the woods in Fall 2005

Oh, and did I mention the rocks?  Lots and lots of rocks.
A few of the rocks we dug out to build the deck

David and I have had Kelly Gardens since 2005. We’ve planted a few things here and there over the years, but we weren't seriously gardening till 2010. And we really, really wanted to make a garden.  The first few years we learned some valuable lessons, and these early experiments obviously need to be documented because David looked at some pictures of our first plantings and he couldn’t remember them, because they’ve since died.  In order to be able to learn from our mistakes we have to remember them…

Lesson # 2 Keep Records. Make sure you cover the 3 W’s - What, Where, When and take a picture. Next year you may need the picture to locate the plant.

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