Last week I posted a lot of pictures of our garden, and briefly mentioned how many changes we’ve made since moving in at the end of the summer of 2014.
We’ve talked a lot about whether we should stay here or move to somewhere cheaper and closer to the mountains. We’ve realized that, for now, we can’t really afford to move. We also realize that staying here is important because I have an excellent healthcare team who know me and help manage my illness. Plus, we’ve invested a lot of time and effort into our property.
It’s the latter that I wanted to explore in this blog post. I think we often forget how much we’ve done, whether it’s gardening or writing or house renovations or whatever. It really helps to remind yourself – with photos if possible – of what you’ve accomplished. Today I’m going to show you what we’ve accomplished in our yard/gardens over the past 3.5 summers. (Plus it indulges what used to be my favourite pastime as a kid: figuring out what was different between two supposedly identical images).
First is the vegetable garden. The picture on the top is from 2015, the bottom was just the other day.
What a difference! It’s so great that Dave is handy with building things like garden sheds. And after three years the garden has become more established – especially those raspberry plants along the fence in front of the shed, which we transplanted from my mother-in-law’s garden.
Then there’s the front of the house.
You can see the garden shed in the background. The yard looks a bit messy, but that hole is going to house a flagstone patio within the next week or so. We just finished digging it out and started putting in a gravel base.
This is what we call the woodland garden. Instead of being a mess of pine cones and needles in a soft duff layer, we’ve planted all sorts of things that like the shade: ferns, hostas, Japanese forest grass, heucheras, bleeding hearts, vinca, and a Korean dogwood tree.
Another view of the same garden, showing just how much it’s changed since we moved in (can you spot the dog in the picture?).
Then there’s the side of the house, where the previous owners left a pile of large rocks and some gravel.
Another huge change! The tree in the foreground is a flowering cherry, which my mother-in-law got me for my birthday a few years ago. Most of the plants in that front perennial bed also came from her garden, before she moved into a townhouse. Getting someone’s garden “castoffs” is a really affordable way to create a new garden!
Here you can see we’ve gotten rid of the fence line on the right, and completely revamped the rock garden. We also added the new perennial garden on the right, and lined the gravel path with stone instead of split rail.
This shows the previous images from the opposite direction. You can see the rock-lined path on the left (instead of split-rail), and the perennial grasses on the left, as well as the different plants in the rock garden on the right.
Here you can see from the back of the house to the veggie garden. We removed the fence on the right and planted a number of trees in the foreground (pine, chestnut, and maple – the latter two from my mother-in-law’s garden again!). We got four of these pine trees on sale – I think I’m the only person who checks the discount bin at the local nursery for trees lol.
This is looking in the opposite direction from the previous images. You can see we removed the fence line on the left (we actually moved it farther downhill to the left – you can see the gate in the left side of the image), added an extra bay to the shed and closed the original two bays in. And you can see the maple, chestnut, and pine (hidden behind the maple) trees.
Wow. I look at these pictures and am impressed with how we’ve transformed our property. I’m looking forward to that new flagstone patio out front, which will also have a new garden bed across from it, to hide it from the driveway.
We’ve worked so hard that I want to stay and enjoy the fruits of our labours (some of which should be ripe soon, including strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries!). It may not be the ideal place (you can read more about that in a previous post), but it’s our home. And sometimes home is what you make it, it doesn’t just come pre-packaged.
I’ve started an essay about home that relates it to marriage: it requires time, commitment, and compromise. Time to grow bonds, commitment to stick through thick and thin, and compromise because nothing’s ever perfect. We’ve invested a lot of time into our property. We’ve compromised in the sense that we love our property but maybe not our neighbours. And we’ve now committed to staying, at least for a little while.
I won’t lie – I’m relieved that we’re not moving as I don’t think I’m mentally able to right now. I’m also just starting to feel comfortable here – I’ve experienced my own kind of transformation. I have some friends in Victoria that I can go down and visit. I’m learning more about the Cowichan Valley (especially since Discourse Media is reviving local news via a reporter in our valley). I have a routine here, that includes gardening, naps, walking (not as much of that lately given my knee injury), lots of writing, and regular trips to the library and secondhand bookstore. Yes the traffic is getting busier, and yes there are a lot of wealthy retirees moving to the area from across the country. Yes our house assessment has gone up 30% and yes the farmer’s market is more “boutique” than “back to the land.” But it’s our home. And home is (generally) what you make it.