Farmgirl School

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -Tolkien

We climbed out of the truck at Aunt Donna’s house. My cousin and I fought back a few tears at the thought that she wasn’t here. Nor will she be again. Her gardens were so dry, but the snap dragons and the huge trees stayed true to Aunt Donna’s garden with color and life. We were there to pick up wood for my new wood stove.

My Great-Aunt Donna

Janet and I walked around the back yard reminiscing. The old swing that used to hold family laughing, rocking back and forth. The family gatherings on the porch.

My Andy and Emily on Aunt Donna’s swing at one of the many family get-togethers we had at her house.

The decades old rhubarb was gone. The apple tree looked the same but with no apples. A broken limb hung from its girth.

I went to the shed and found all of her tools still in place. I took a shovel and went to the Oregon Grape Root that I always gather this time of year from her house. The last time, most likely. The house will be sold soon after the estate sale.

I filled a small bucket of water. I pulled up some of the Echinacea and placed it in the water. I dug up a few Sumac tree starts that had scampered away from the large trees. “Come with me, kids,” I said to the silent plants, “we are moving to a new garden.”

My own land here isn’t ready to plant. There is no amended soil. Just limestone and clay as far as the eye can see. The previous owner put in a small strip of garden along the front of the house with a plant every few feet for curb appeal to help the house sell. You know me and inter-planting; no soil unused! I filled in some of the spaces.

It is very easy to transplant anywhere you live.

  1. Simply dig a hole.
  2. Water the hole.
  3. Let it drain.
  4. Sprinkle a little organic garden soil in the hole.
  5. Put plant in the hole.
  6. Cover with soil.
  7. Give a little more water.
  8. Talk to it and tell it how happy it will be here if it will grow!
Sumac and a stone from Aunt Donna’s garden.

I do this every time I plant a tree or transplant a plant or bush. To prevent weeds and to keep invasive plants in place, put cardboard around the plants and top it all off with wood chips or straw. Everything looks beautiful, there was no need to rototille everything, and one can fit a lot of plants in a seemingly small area. It is the secret to creating a sprawling, cottage garden.

Pinterest.

I will increase the size of the garden next year with the same technique and establish a walkway. A hundred medicinal herbs and more flowers and pleasing plants will join the garden. It won’t be Aunt Donna’s garden, but with any luck, her plants will thrive here and I will have a little piece of her spirit in my cottage garden.

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