‘Scuse me whilst I dig the dirt out from under my fingernails…
I just looked down and realized how horrid they actually look. It’s definitely NOT manicure season.
‘Tis the season of compost, and calluses,
Of worms and worn wooden handles,
The season of a happy heart and an exhausted body,
Spring Garden Tour 2019
It’s finally Spring here in Door County. (It was as though the Lord was waiting for Sister Bay to finally take down their Christmas Decoration… ahem!). Sûr le RocherCountry House and Gardens is in FULL swing.
Homeschool starts a little earlier in the day so we can fit it all in and studies have shifted once again to animal husbandry, permaculture and all the goodness in between. Hard work never hurt anyone, children included. When they sit down to their meals, they know how that food got to their plate and that is a good thing.
I stand at my bedroom window and look out to a great expanse.
Just fourteen months ago this space was overgrown with more wild oregano than the mind can fathom. Weed trees and invasive honeysuckle, half-dead mangy ash trees and equally as half-dead birch and white pine and the horrid juniper that thrives on any unattended land on this part of the island. Vacant for five years these majestic acres needed someone to love them.
That someone is us.
Last year we expressed our love by pushing back the mangy outskirts of the forest, and we dig multiple begs for our potager (a French-style kitchen garden)
We harvested stone from crumbed rock walls and dug every rock out of the ground that our shovels hit. (There are TWO reasons we call it “On the Rock”, Sûr le Rocher… as Christians, our house is built on the rock of Christ and literally… we’re sitting on a giant rock.) . I built rock walls with fervor and Joel rototilled and rototilled and rototilled to great over 13 different beds.
We laid landscape fabric and poured pea gravel over it to create a courtyard full of European charm, we cut down trees that shaded our dreams. I dug up wild lupine and overgrown lavender from a garden that was here years ago. We built a rustic, charming “deer fence” out of all our scraps. We worked NON stop for eight weeks and then settled into to enjoy the fruits of our labour… and…
Stunted growth. Nibbled plants. Shade where we didn’t expect it. With the strategic placement of my camera lens, I could make it look good but the reality was I felt like a total failure after all that gruelling work.
Can you tell giving myself grace is not my forté?
For heaven’s sake, any normal person would have simply acknowledged that it was the first year of gardening in this new space and what could I expect?
But instead, I raged, I defy you Door Country soil! You just met your match!
Monty Don, a gardener after my own heart, says that there is not one moment that is ever wasted in amending one’s soil. And so I amended. Chicken manure, goat droppings, leaves, composted cow manure from a farm down the road. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow… load after load.
This spring we awoke to wiggle worms, black, gorgeous soil and joy. Though nothing is growing yet, it appears… (dare I even type this???) … it appears that we have begun to improve this notoriously horrible terroir.
Amend, amend, amend. I will continue to do so for YEARS! I have quite a compost system in place… I’ll have to share that with you someday.
So, we’ve got worms. Now what?
Now, it’s time for me to set my insecurities aside. After years of a rental garden and then the “failure” of last years garden I have begun to doubt myself. Who was that woman who could plan a layered garden, full of colour from April to November, in her sleep? Who was she, who could companion plant, access disease problem, keep bugs and bay organically….
Have I lost my skillz?
Tests like Meyers-Briggs label me as a type A. (quelle surprise) Gallup calls me an “Activator”. Action and forward motion are EVERYTHING to me. I never look back. But I’m going to pause for a sec and look back. A rare activity for me, indeed, but I’m going to pause and look back at the “Ang of Potagers Past” and remember that gardening is a part of my SOUL. I haven’t forgotten how. Patience must be my resolve and diligence, my routine.
Look back, just for a moment with me, won’t you?
Whew. OK. That’s out of my system.
Onward and upward. After all, tomorrow is another day.
It’s going to be a fabulous growing season. I look out at the very blank palette and I can see the future. I see all my David Austen’s in full bloom, I see vines and espaliered fruit trees, benches tucked into cosy corners of my potager and a cottage garden that would bring a smile to the mouths of Tasha and Beatrix. It takes ten years to create a mature garden. This is year two and whatever happens, it’s going to be beautiful!
PS: Here’s how I survive the aches and pains of gardening season AND garden organically with my fav essential oils. http://bit.ly/AngsOilsforGardening