Now that the ramp down to the beach is fully functional, it felt like it was time to tackle the slope of the Bluff. The plan is to have three separate gardens, one for each of the decks. Since there is a natural little amphitheatre across from the Lovers’ Deck, it seemed like the logical place to start. As in most projects, I vastly under-estimated the amount of work involved, but once started, I was a man on a mission.
Just to give you an idea of how much wood was pulled off this small section of the bluff, here is a before picture of the garden and some pictures of the wood piled ready to burn or be chopped up for firewood.
Clearing the dead wood and scrub brush off the Bluff took several weeks and was hard work that resulted in sore muscles, scratched up arms and the beginnings of a good ol’ farmer’s tan. It also gave me some time to think about how I wanted to landscape this garden. Because the slope is pretty steep on the Bluff, I quickly came to the conclusion that building terraces was the way to go. In order to build up, you first need to dig down. Once the land was ready, I started to haul large rocks up the ramp off the beach. Some of these rocks were so big, I could barely lift them. I always had this image in my head that retirement would be a time of leisure. In reality, it’s been almost constant manual labour (digging, cutting, hauling).
Fitting the rocks together was kind of fun and the terraces I built are now filled with good dirt and sea soil. As long as I keep the weeds from taking over, they should be an excellent environment for my plants to thrive. I’ve chosen a lot of plants that are drought tolerant, deer resistant, good on slopes and can handle all the sun that this South facing bluff receives: Corkscrew Willow, weeping Beech, Weigela, Varigated Willow, Japanese Maple, Spirea, Blue Juniper, Mock Orange, Smoke Tree, California Lilac and a few varieties of decorative grasses. Many of these plants will grow into quite large trees or bushes (upwards of 10 – 15 feet), so I’ve had to plant with an idea of what it will look like in a handful of years. In between these perennials, I’ve plopped down a bunch of Geraniums, just to introduce some colour and because they were all 50% off at the plant store and deer won’t touch them. It would be an understatement to say that the deer on this coast are always on the hunt for things to nibble and they seem to have absolutely no fear of humans. Let me introduce you to Bernie the Buck. He regularly wanders by when we are in the Love Shack, oblivious to us but keenly aware of anything that looks edible. This picture was taken this morning while we had breakfast on the deck – about fifteen feet away. I swear that Bernie was licking his lips just before I took this picture.
The original idea for the garden was to honour my Mom (and her Mom) who were both dedicated gardeners and managed to turn rough prairie land into places of tranquility and beauty. Mom is planning to come out to see the property in September, so I’m hoping that it will have grown in quite a bit over the summer. Here’s to all the Moms!