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  • Writer's pictureKrista N Oswald

How Does Your Garden Grow? (Side A)

Well, it has been an incredibly long time since my last blog. I could say the absence was due to finishing my PhD, but really I just didn't want to write. I will probably post a blog about the southern Africa adventure Matt and I took once I handed in my thesis, but only time will tell. In the last few months my mom and I went to India, had a great time for a bit, had a horrible time trying to get back due to Covid19, then I graduated ex situ (crazy science speak for "not actually there"), and am now working on publishing the rest of my results and maybe getting a job landscaping a bit this summer.

However, for now I am writing about the current excitement that is finally being in our house in Muskoka and using this enforced time-off to redo our landscaping (hooray!!!).

Not the whole landscaping, as the "bones" of the place are stunning, but removing and

replacing the choices left by the previous owners

(I know it doesn't look bad in the left top photo, but that's just because of the green trees and the flagstone patio, i.e. the "bones". Look at the bushes in the bed against the house, and the chips/topiary in the left corner. Those are what we didn't like. They are now cranberries, bulbs, and some non-native indulgent rhododendrons).

In short, the landscaping was done to be no maintenance, and to me it did not look natural, with plants that were not useful. I like my plants to fit the look of the area, be a large percent native to the area (except for some bulbs), and especially be useful as food (for human, bird, butterfly, anything). Last autumn I tried removing the cedar chip cover in one bed to see what it would entail (bottom photo, left bed).

It was a pain, and more so once I realized most of them had a ground cover being used as a lid, with layers of chip/dirt on top. The last 3 weeks it was warm for me to yank the rest of the cover out and remove the plants as well as roots of previous mystery plants. I threw away the mini-topiaries and spruce shrub varietal things, bringing the beds back to a plain state ready for new plants. (Below bottom photo is a before and after of cleaning it out).

I'm extremely excited to have some berry plants arriving in a week. I've ordered a bunch of native varieties humans can eat, including bunchberry, bearberry, Saskatoon berry, currants, and chokeberry (yes, we will likely get bears haha). I've also ordered a few winterberry which birds can eat and keep their berries year-round (they're a type of holly). A friend will let me come take some blueberries from their property once they are in leaf and I can tell which ones they are:)

We've also foraged through our property and selectively removed patches of moss to line the beds and hopefully spread so it will be green everywhere (right photo shows a bed with moss edge and ready for berries!).

This is probably boring to anyone not into landscaping and gardening, but tailoring plants to my liking is how I "nest", and I find it super exciting and fun :)

(Below shows "birdland" where I will put the wintergreen with the feeders).

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