Re: [gardeners] typhoon in the garden

George Shirley (
Mon, 22 Jul 2002 18:28:07 -0500

Sounds loverly Lucinda, I'm glad you've found a new home and are working up a garden. How soon can
you handle houseguests? Just joking of course but maybe a gaggle of gardeners would be good to help
with the renovation. If they show up with their own garden tools and some neat straw hats naturally.
Too bad we're not closer, I'm a fair hand at plumbing and electrical work but a very poor carpenter.

George wrote:
> 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.
> Lucinda