Well, it's a beautiful day here in Brockville, and the sun is shining and warm, but not so warm that redheaded me fears to go out into the death rays. I finally have some energy to spare on weekends for more than sleeping, and I decided to get outside and do some gentle weeding. Having recently (well, if you call four months recent) moved into this house, and then having major surgery straight afterwards (and by that I mean I moved in on a Saturday and had major open abdominal surgery the following Thursday), I haven't done much in the way of gardening at all. I had a man come up and cut the hedges and remove an obnoxious tree for me (usually I'm all for trees, but this one was right in front of my bedroom window, blocking all the light, the view and making it damp. I could have lived with the loss of view, but not with the dampe, so it went) and mow the lawns.

A few weeks after surgery I pulled together enough energy to weed and compost the two little patches either side of the front steps so I could plant and mulch my patio roses - because it was bugging me that they weren't in there. Putting them in felt like I was making the house mine, like a ritual or ceremony that put my mark on my new home. I just about collapsed after I got them in, but it was worth it, because darned if those rose bushes aren't flourishing like crazy! I had them in large pots initially (when I was at my flat with no garden) and they kind of got lanky and thin . . . but now they're leafy and green and beautiful and I smile every time I see them.

But that's about all I've done. Coupled with the fact that the backyard is pretty much a blank canvas (only a canvas that's been painted on and gessoed over many many times) and I don't know what to do with (I know I want a veggie garden and a herb garden and a mini fruit orchard, but I don't know *how* or *where) I've been putting it off! I do know that the patch hard up against the back of the house I want to have some carpet roses in, and I want the huge succulent in there out, and then on the other side of the back door steps I want to start a kitchen garden with herbs and stuff. I have a lemon tree and a lime tree to plant, and a blackberry bush, but I don't want to put those in unil I know where, in the scheme of things, I want to put them permanently, because I don't want to keep shifting them around. And I think somewhere a memorial garden for my mother would be good.

Anyway, my backyard presents some challenges - one side is heavily shaded by the huge hedge (even though I had a good few feet cut off it) and the grass there is all moss (No doubt I will at some point ask for suggestions on dealing with that bit). And the last people who lived here obviously equated 'garden' with 'rubbish dump' because I have dug up cigarette butts, kids toys, food wrappers, old batteries, and the spot they obviously dumped the ashes from the fire. It's a mess! And over all that mess was a thick growth of chickweed and grass and other weeds. Well, I've pulled out all the weeds in the patch where I want the carpet roses, and now I need to wait for a friend to come and dig out the bits of that big succulent she wants. Then I'll dig it over, compost and blood and bone, and then in go the carpet roses!! Then mulch.

Of course, every garden has hidden treasures besides garbage, and I've discovered that I will never need to go hunting for or buying rocks in any size, for I have a plethora of them in piles around the back yard. I have big ones, I have small ones, and I have every size in between, including many that will work really well for edgings . . . so that's one decision taken - my garden will, whenever possible, make use of the rocks I already have. The other treasure I found, when I pulled out a huge mat of chickweed, was a tiny little aloe plant, struggling along under all the grass! I'm going to carefully dig it out shortly and pop it in a pot and see if I can convince it to keep going.

I think, for me, that transforming my blank canvas will be a slow proposition. I'll only get small things done at a time, and I probably won't get a veggie garden, or even the kitchen garden, planted this year (which is fine - I can't eat that much anyway!). I'm going to focus on pottering at one task at a time - at the moment it will be getting the carpet roses in, and then I'll pick another small task to potter at. I have no idea what to do with the huge messy mass of flax and bush and weed and rotten compost at the very top of the garden, so I'm not going to start thinking about it yet.

But I have to admit, it really did bring a smile to my face to find that tiny little aloe!

Edit to add: Okay, I mustered a bit more energy and went outside to dig around in my carpet rose patch a bit more - and remember just why gardening in Brockville is so difficult (and why I have all those lovely rocks I was pleased about) - Brockville is volcanic, and you can't put your spade in more than an inch without hitting a rock!! I did manage to uncover the bathroom drain though (very important I would imagine, to have that clear and not full of crap), and I had a quick look online for a natural weedkiller, and whaddya know - white vinegar! So I toodle off and got a couple of litres of the stuff, because, serendipitously, I needed white vinegar to try and get rid of cat pee out of the carpet (my cats are uncivilised little savages). So, one carpet and one garden soaked in white vinegar. Tomorrow I shall dig a bit more, weather permitting, and do what I can to get weeds AND garbage out of the garden. And maybe take some photos of my well used, messy blank canvas to share. If nothing else Ive got an okay chunk of land to play with (okay, it's not all that big, but given I live alone and I'm not all that fit and able to keep a garden maintained, it's plenty big enough).

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Comment by octopusgrrl on September 21, 2009 at 4:54pm
I think the trick is just to start on a little bit at a time (like your rose bushes!) - otherwise it's really easy to feel completely overwhelmed and not know what to tackle first. That's how I've been feeling recently, but now we're starting to get the weeding done, and the bulbs that the previous owner planted are all coming up, I feel like there are more rewards from what I'm doing :)
Comment by Hester on September 6, 2009 at 5:40pm
Loved reading about your garden and your plans. If the vinegar doesn't work on the carpet you could try an enzyme based cleaner.I use Bioluvil but I don't think you can get it any more. I used to breed Burmese cats so I learnt tricks for that kind of thing. There is also a really good carpet spray called No Vac -the one for pet odours works really well. I don't like using chemicals but sometimes I resort to it for tough cleaning.

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