..the secret life of daydreams..

a blog of the everyday beautiful

Monthly Archives: February 2017

get by with a little help from our friends…

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This past weekend was a fence-post-hole-digging kind of weekend. My dad and I spent the better part of Thursday measuring and marking, which proved invaluable once we started to dig. As they say, measure twice, cut (or dig) once!

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Having everything laid out in the real space and marked with spray paint and stakes meant that on Saturday and Sunday we just got to work. Justin picked up a rental hydraulic auger to make the work faster, and at just under a $150 for a day rental, that might be one of the best decisions we have made with this garden so far.

I’m sure in some alternate universe, hand digging 40-plus, 3 foot deep holes in rocky ground wouldn’t be torture, but we weren’t about to subject ourselves to that. Instead, they all got dug in essentially one afternoon with relative ease.

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That auger was a workhorse, and much easier to use than a handheld two-person auger. I think we would have run into difficulties with anything else in our rocky soil. It wasn’t all a cake walk though; Justin was definitely feeling it in his forearms that night.

A huge thank you to our friends Corrie and Thomas who volunteered their whole day and made it fun to be working. Corrie and I tackled a few things on my to-do list (pruning the red currant, moving soil, lining some of the boxes with landscape fabric, and leveling and squaring off those same boxes) while Thomas helped Justin manhandle the digger.

Love you guys. Couldn’t have done it without you!

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Also big thanks to my dad for helping me think through logistics and planning, and being available hands when we needed him. This girl also pulled her weight keeping an eye on the all-important measuring tape:

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the yew

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I have a thing for yew hedges. They are, in my eyes, the perfect landscaping hedge: hardy, tolerant of sun and shade, and with a narrow growth habit and an ability to flush green growth from old wood  which makes them very simple to trim. They will also last for many decades (or more, there is a yew hedge in England that is 300 years old!) if well cared for.

Then there is the visual. With that dark green foliage, yews make a beautiful backdrop to flowers and other vegetation.

I also suspect there is an emotional tie to the yew for me. I have a great love of English gardens, and wandering the elegant estate gardens in the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire with Justin several years ago established my resolve to one day incorporate yews into an eventual garden.

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So, when we started talking about redoing our vegetable garden, on the top of my list was a yew hedge for the east side of the garden. It will provide a visual backdrop for everything else in the garden, but it also serves a functional purpose in that a hedge will create a windbreak for some of the prevailing breezes we tend to receive from the interior. My goal is to create a sheltered micro-climate within the space of my garden so that some of my more “gentle” plants can thrive.

The downside is that yews are frightfully expensive. They are typically priced about $10 a foot in vertical height, so planting a five foot tall hedge can easily run you $50 a plant. And when I wanted a 60 foot long hedge, that proved to be too pricey. We considered the more wallet friendly cedar as an alternative, but I knew I would be disappointed by that decision in the years to come. So I did some digging on the Internet and found a local grower who was willing to sell us little 12 inch starts for five dollars each. We went with the varietal of the H.M. Eddie Yew as it presented with the right growth habit for our needs.

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Compromising with little starts like this means employing some patience, as it won’t look like what I imagined for many years to come, but that is alright, because gardening is all about investing in the future. As Audrey Hepburn famously said once, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

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