Excitement is in the air as I swing into my third spring here. I am also excited to say that instead of doing a photo documentation of my gardens each year, this year I made a video! My first video, as a matter of fact. I filmed it in one take and includes a couple of cringe worthy moments which I will get into later in this blog. : /
But first, I would like to share a little bit of my background with gardening and farm life. My neighbor called me a "Master Gardener" the other day and I said, 'Uh, no I'm not, LOL...". Far from it. Not only am I a total novice, but I really do like to have a beginner's mind with many things I do. It allows for more possibilities for creativity and a constant evolution of discovery and learning.
My grandmother Mary, Nana, always had a garden. My grandparents' generation was one of the last to have homestead-like yards with gardens, chickens, and other self-sufficiency practices left over from the Depression and WWII. I have vivid memories of my visits to Nana's house in Massachusetts. Spending my afternoons with the bunnies and "chippies" dodging around in the thickets and hedgerows, eating as many warm juicy fuzzy plump raspberries as I was harvesting with sticky red-stained fingers and an aching tummy, running freshly steamed buttery pea pods just in from the garden through my teeth with my eyes closed, and laying in the hammock watching the birds play in Grandpa's sprinkler that he precisely placed just so.
We lived mostly in apartments and moved around a fair amount when I was growing up, so having a garden was not something we did. My first chance to have a yard and a garden was at one of my collage dwellings in Durango with my boyfriend. His parents had a garden, so he knew how to get things started in our small backyard. It had an abandoned garden plot and old flower beds around the house that had not been tended to in many years. We started clearing, and trimming, and planting, and watering. This was my first taste of bringing neglected spaces to life, and how nature is so eager to respond to our attention.
Flowers photos from The Farm, Boulder CO circa early-mid 2000's
Fast-forward to Boulder 10 years later, and my now ex-husband and I were moving onto a two acre homestead property with an apple orchard, plum bushes, peach and pear trees, a grape arbor, rose bushes, walnut trees, abandoned flower beds, irrigation ditches, giant cottonwoods... I was thrilled and terrified of it all at the same time as we promised to be good stewards to the land. My hand shook as we signed the lease. The property and outbuildings had been filled with junk for many years by the previous tenant and he was definitely not into gardening. It was another chance to do what I love to do most and bring attention to neglected things to bring out their best. But up until now, I considered all of my efforts on The Farm a total failure for the 11 years I was there. Every day felt like an uphill battle. We had very little time and money to invest in my gardening efforts as we worked tirelessly to build our American dream. I named our first (failed) garden plot attempt "The Garden of the Ignorant and Misguided". Nuff said. I can see now that I am in my own garden again, that the sense of failure I had is now called "experience".
It seemed that as soon as I was finding my stride with the property, after many plants died and many curves were learned, I was divorcing and needed a place to land quickly. The problem was that I had two acres and 11 years worth of stuff that I had no time to sort and circumstances lead to me rent a two bedroom apartment – on the third floor! I was buried under the trauma of being uprooted from my farm life and surrounded by the irony of this farm life piled up in my tiny apartment with only a small balcony. I ended up living in this "temporary" situation for over 7 years and, for the most part, put my gardening on hold until my dear friend offer to let me garden with him in his magical backyard. This really motivated to find a home where I could have my own garden again.
For almost a year, I had been driving down Hygiene Road repeating the phrase "anything's possible" about my desire to find a place to live in Hygiene, which is just on the northwestern edge of Longmont, but in the country. By the power of positive thinking and sheer synchronicity, I learned of a place that was becoming available here. Another traumatic move later getting all of my stuff out of The Bird's Nest, my third floor retreat, and I was amazed that I had to get used to having my feet on the ground again. And so begins my time here with a garden, porch, and backyard that are just to die for. Penny, the previous tenant of 14 years is an incredible artist and handed off a great space for me to tend. This is my first video log of my gardening adventures on Dayton Acres. 2021 will be my 3rd summer here and this is part of documenting my time on the property, in my garden, with the aPORCHecary, around Pella ponds and more. I had a bit of stage fright and forgot a couple of plant names both common and Latin, and made a BIG mistake in botanical terms. This was done in one take, definitely not perfect. My corrections: #1 The plant that I say looks like strawberry, but is not, is Geum! A nice bright red variety. #2 When talking about Wild Chamomile, the blossoms look like regular chamomile but without the PETALS (not leaves – such an amateur mistake). #3 I talk about using Heartsease and Dandelion infused oils in my reformulated facial serums, but I failed to say which part of these plants I will use. The BLOSSOMS of these two plants are great for skin care and are also edible!
Being here is allowing me to bring many facets of my self together – gardening, harvesting, preparing herbal formulations from plants that I grew, photographing and painting all of the beautiful treasures that are here, as well as providing a welcoming place for friends, neighbors, family, and clients.
Below is a photo gallery of the the previous two years here (Fall 2018–Summer 2020) arranged oldest to newest, featuring the modifications and updates I am doing to the porch and garden beds. I will post more video updates as the seasons turn and let you know what's happening and what fresh herbs, starters, cuttings, seeds, and veggies I have available.