[gardeners] typhoon in the garden

lneuru@watarts.uwaterloo.ca (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Sun, 21 Jul 2002 18:15:45 -0400

Deathly hot, humid weather gave way to a 'typhoon' here: high winds, 
torrential downpours, instant flooded streets, and in Toronto 17 hydro poles 
knocked over onto 18 cars, miraculously no one was hurt, just trapped (or 
was it 18 poles on 17 cars??oh well).  And we have tornado warnings.  At 
least the garden got watered, but I bet it knocked down a fair amount.  We 
are busy renovating our new (old) house.  We have refinished the floors 
upstairs and painted and await the plumber to fix the shower and the 
electrician to add some sockets before we start moving stuff in.  This week 
we are doing the downstairs floors.  I may never stop vibrating.

House is boring to repair, garden is fun.  The place belonged to a little old 
Transylvanian (have narrowed geographic locale since last report) lady for 
about 60 years and it is beautifully laid out.  There was an idiot pair here for 
about 18 months and the garden was let go to rack and ruin.  We hacked our 
way through the Amazon and two weed-eaters, 25 yard bags of debris later 
we reached and are still working on the Enchanted Forest. We unearthed a 
raspberry patch which Len cleaned up and organized into a neat rectangle 
and will trellis later.  This is the dessert patch.  Somewhere back in the forest 
there is the bebop-a-rebop rhubarb patch (anyone listen to Garrison Keilor?).  
I have another 10 debris bags loaded and there will be many more.  I quit 
throwing out branches but will use them for rustic trellis and a stair rail down 
the steps in the garden.

The garden is on two levels terraced naturally.  We are about 1K south of our 
old house which stands on the edge of an old lake bed --more often a swamp 
until it was properly drained and turned into a good body of water with dry 
land around it, although the flood plains are pretty obvious and are not 
allowed for buildings.  Our old house was close enough to the ancient swamp 
that it stands on clay beds.  It required much soil amending and the 
occasional bout with a jackhammer :)) to dig it.  The new place is higher up, 
several gentle slopes and we are, I think, on the beach.  The soil is really 
very sandy.  At about midway in the backyard it drops and the soil is slightly 
less sandy, more humus-y and maybe with a touch of clay---haven't 
investigated completely yet.  It makes for a very interesting shape.  The old 
lady had a peach tree and a pear tree, still standing and a cherry and apple 
were cut down.  Columbine, peonies, old-fashioned phlox and roses 
abound.....also lily of the valley, which is going.  There are ferns and lilies, 
hosta, chysanthemum and periwinkle (going) and a few herbs still left from 
what was her herb garden.  I have stripped the fence of overgrown bridal 
wreath spirea and mock orange and given them away.   The fence row will 
have roses.  I am adding stone to the terraced bit - it's currently held by l-of-
valley which I don't like.  Creeping phlox and thyme and pineapple mint goes 
there, with the gallica roses and assorted bulbs.  The upper level now has 
assorted bits from the old house, iris, wormwood, blue salvia, Russian sage, 
autumn joy sedum, and 2 tea roses; I am not big on tea roses but they were 
on sale and I had to buy a plant; I couldn't stop! - what's worse, my husband 
encouraged me!  I also bought a piece of garden statuary - never have done 
that either, was egged on by husband.  I got a statue of St. Fiacre, patron of 
gardens which I have temporarily renamed St. Fiasco until I get the garden 
organized.  I am trying to make up my mind about new bulbs, roses etc.; the 
catalogues are rolling in.

The massive (goes up over driveway and onto 2nd storey balcony the width of 
the house) grape vine is full of grapes.  The old lady made wine from them.

One of the brightest things the old girl did was to have an old cast iron stack 
(vent) dug into the garden from the top to the lower level.  It carries the 
rainwater of one downspout to the lower level, while another empties on the 
toplevel.  Absolutely brilliant.  

I hope the old Transylvanian likes what I am going to do with her garden; the 
neighbours are much relieved.  The last folk were kind of nutty.  This is a very 
garden-oriented block. The street is only one block long, in the downtown and 
is a world apart from surrounding streets, also largely residential.  People 
even have gardens on the formerly grassed curbs.  

Has anyone had any experience with northern kiwi?  I want to put back one 
fruit tree/bush but not anything so large as was here before. What about 
cultivated raspberry bushes (ours are native & wild) for this region (Great 
Lakes) which will bear profusely?  Any suggestions?

All for now from the edge of the enchanted forest.