Transformations

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.

VegBarden_B4VegGarden_after

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.

FrontYard_b4FrontYard_after

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.

WoodlandGarden_B4WoodlandGarden_after

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.

WoodlandGarden_B4_2WoodlandGarden_after2

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.

SideofHouse_B4SideofHouse_after

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!

SideofHouse_B4_2SideofHouse_after2

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.

SideofHouse_B4_3SideofHouse_after3

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.

BackofHouse_B4_3BackofHouse_after3

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.

BackofHouse_B4_5BackofHouse_after5

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.

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8 thoughts on “Transformations

  1. Wow! I’m embarrassed to think of my yards when I see how much effort you’ve put into yours. Beautiful, still full of promise of growth to come.

      • I was sent to pull weeds as punishment as a child and I’m very allergic, so my nose ran the whole time. It hasn’t been a recipe for loving yard work.

      • That was my one of my punishments as well, KDKH. It was a good thing that I grew up in Western Pennsylvania rather than in Dallas, TX, which is now where we live. It is so hot here now! At 8 am it is too hot for me already. If I try to go out any earlier, the mosquitos try to dine on me for breakfast. I stay inside now, but I am also allergic to house dust, of which we seem to have a never-ending supply.

      • That IS unfortunate. I grew up in Midland, TX where it was too hot and dry for anything to grow on its own. I honestly don’t do well in the heat and it’s the biggest reason I don’t like doing much outside in the summer. I love Denver, but it gets pretty hot in the summer. I put in a vegetable garden and keep an eye on our grapes, currants and fruit trees, but it’s all as I’m headed toward the air conditioner. I only go out early and late, if I can help it. Hats off to our plants that take the heat in stride!

      • I used to hate gardening as a child. When I was sent to weed I pulled out bean plants because I didn’t like them. Things sure have changed!

  2. I am so glad you are not moving, it’s stress which you don’t need. It also costs money to move, people don’t realize how much it does cost. You are better to stay put and already you have shown all the right reasons why you are staying put! Your gardens are beautiful, you have invested so much and very wisely in this property and your future here. Good call.

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