December is the time to relocate deciduous shrubs,
dig new garden beds, and remove any invasive
or rampant growth that is not wanted.
Having moved into this house in November,
means that these tasks – which are crucial
in order for us to even SEE the garden –
are all being done at the optimum time of year.
Under a dark grey sky, with absolutely everything
cold and soaking wet, our first efforts in the garden
involved digging, levering, and pulling back
the horrific mass of Hedera that smothered the ground entirely
and was making its way up many of the trees.
We could not even see the garden beds
unless we first removed the mass that covered them.
It took three days of work before being able to actually
roll the Ivy into something resembling a massive carpet
awaiting delivery … and then roll that onto a tarpaulin.
With me holding the end of the monstrous cylinder aloft,
my wife was able back the car under the end,
and from there, it took both of us
to slide, wiggle, and shove it into the back of the car.
Three trips to the ‘green dump’
were needed to remove all the Ivy,
and with it gone, we were able to take a look
at the garden beds.
What a disappointment: beneath the tangled mass,
the disheartening sight of reddish “soil”
that was almost pure sand, was laced with the roots systems
of the dying cedar hedging that encloses the perimeter fence.
That any plant was even ABLE to grow in this,
is testament to the resilience of plants
and their incredible ability to sustain life:
Everything here was trying to find nourishment
from soil … that has none.
There were no worms to be found
in any portions of the garden
in which a shovel was turned.
At the end of the garden, a 10-square foot area
behind the Potting Shed,
was nothing more than a rubble tip
composed of asphalt that had seemingly been
poured from a truck and left to ‘level’ itself.
On top of that, bricks, stone,
and broken concrete was stacked in heaps.
What a mess.
At the end of eight weeks, five carloads of wood
and debris were taken to the rubbish dump.
Seven more went to the ‘green waste’ dump.
The fish that moved with us had been spending
the first two weeks in a child’s paddling pool.
Priority had been given to dig a pond
that would allow them a chance to have a new home
before any real cold settled in.
By the end of the first week, they had moved in
to their own home – complete with heater
to let them be comfortable as almost constant winter rain
keeps their pond full to overflowing.
With that done, we had to turn our attention
back to what had lain underneath all that Ivy
for dear knows how many years.
The reddish sand/soil would have to be dug over;
and lashings of well-rotted horse manure forked in
before any plants could be set in place.
We did make some wonderful “finds”, though,
including an old, gnarled Pieris,
and even semi-tropical Hibiscus,
were found smothered by neighbouring cedars,
overgrown, and seemingly just ‘shoved in’
without any rhyme or reason.
Working methodically from the left side gate,
these ‘finds’ were dug up as we encountered them;
cleaned, trimmed in the niwaki manner,
Given the constant Pacific-coast rain here,
they should have noticed little or no stress
from their December disruption.
By the end of December, the bed
on the left side of the house had been completed.
The 25th and 26th of December saw us
clearing Ivy, stones, and other debris
turning the corner into the main garden itself.
Digging soil and forking in well-rotted horse manure
was arduous work, particularly in the almost-constant rain:
but very gratifying indeed, to see results.
[ Continued in January ]