Sunday, May 2, 2010

Walk Around The Garden

We live on top of a knoll surrounded by Beaver Creek marsh.  The top of the knoll is 65 feet above the marsh surface.  Surrounding the knoll are marsh (wetlands without trees) and swamp (wetlands with trees).  Beyond the swamp is upland forest that rises into hills.  When I first moved onto the knoll in 1986, it was covered primarily with salmonberry, thimbleberry, huckleberry, and salal bushes, with some alder, spruce, fir, wax myrtle, and crabapple trees.  I cleared areas for a homesite, septic field, and vegetable garden.  Clearing was selective and began to carve out garden areas while leaving native vegetation that would support wildlife.  This and careful sculpting and planting of the earth, with animal needs in mind, are called naturescaping.

When Jackie moved onto the knoll in 1990, we began planting additional shrubs and herbs that would supply food and shelter for animals and medicine and flowers for us.  We planted annual vegetables and apple trees in a fenced garden area on a lower part of the knoll.  Later as rabbits and raccoons overcame our efforts in the lower garden, we switched to red raspberry, blueberry, and gooseberry bushes, which the birds and chipmunks sometimes allow us to harvest fruit from.  We can get apples in the fall if we beat the black bear to them.  Slowly we created many garden spaces with varied plantings, sunlight exposure, cover for animals, and flowering sequences through the seasons.  We became aware of plants that naturally colonized our beds and watched them move around the knoll as the years passed.

Twenty years later, plantings are established and we have favored perennials, as they require the least maintenance and are the most deer, chipmunk, and rabbit-proof.  In the spring, we witness an amazing increase in the variety and numbers of birds, as they stake out and use their nesting and feeding territories.  Rabbits hop around the various trails.  The other day one reminded me of "Alice In Wonderland" and I was temporarily allowed a look down the hole of time.   The variety of daily, monthly, and seasonal patterns in light, color, plants, fungi, and animals is astounding.  Each day walking around these gardens, I am immersed in the limitless expanse of beauty that is wildness.  Here is a painting in living color with pigments that are alive and moving.  This time of year is mostly green with white and yellow flowers.  As the seasons pass, more colorful flowers appear with blue, purple, red, yellow, and orange appearing, followed by bright fall foliage, berries, and fruit.

A hillside filled with medicine herbs and wildlife food.

A terraced garden with gate.

An overlook on the marsh, with Beaver Creek Road running through it.

A field of false lily-of-the-valley.

An overlook on the marsh, with plum tree, salmonberry, and alder.

A terraced medicine herb garden.

A marsh overlook with wild rose, honeysuckle, and elderberry.

Garden area in lower part of the knoll.

Flower beds, apple tree, salmonberry, and polish purple willow in lower garden.

Walled garden on hillside.

Posted by michael

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