Now to set the stage, let me take you back in time to August 2012, when we first visited 2 Chestnut Street:
Funny, we didn't really pay much attention to the backyard, not realizing that it too would need an eventual makeover. Neither of us are really of the garden variety. You can just chop everything down and it will go away, right?
NOT RIGHT. It just keeps growing. Especially perennial gardens (look, here is evidence that we are learning about gardens - I know what a perennial is. Formal definition: something that keeps coming back bigger and badder forever and ever)
So once the snow finally melted, we ventured outside with our minimal gardening tools: a hatchet and a pair of giant shears. Oh how foolish we were. Thank goodness for Wayne and Eleanor next door, who kept a close watch on our garden adventure and would run over with advice and proper equipment.
The first thing we had to do was a major leaf/chestnut/pinecone clean up. As it turns out, when you live on Chestnut Street, you inherit at least one, if not more, chestnut trees. And they are tall, and beautiful, and kind of majestic looking, and you really, really love them until you realize that in the winter, they throw all their chestnuts on the ground and close up shop. And our giant chestnut tree had been doing just that for years and years, throwing all its chestnuts into the back garden. When Dante described all the layers of his Inferno, he forgot to mention the one with the chestnuts. Actually, there should probably be at least two layers about chestnuts. We actually started our leaf/chestnut/pinecone cleanup back in October, just to do a quick tidy of the yard so it didn't look too bad. I thought it would take a day to do a quick rake up of whatever was left.
NOT SO. It takes quite a few days, apparently. There was also a lot of chopping of years of irises (irisi?), as well as cedar bush overgrowth. It was no picnic (although I think we did stop at one point to have a picnic, but that doesn't count).
88 yard bags later, this is what we were left with:
Evidence of our hard work:
(That's only a small portion of the bags. We only put a few out at a time over the course of the spring so we wouldn't scare Waste Watch PEI.)
At this point we had to decide what we were going to do: keep the garden, or bring in a load of topsoil and cover it all up and seed it. We decided to let things grow and see what happened.
I'm not sure how many times we raked the yard. But it was a lot. Most of the time it felt like it wasn't making any difference whatsoever, but finally the weather started to warm up and the grass began to grow, as well as a ton of mysterious plants. Some days it actually started to look kind of nice:
We did a lot of touring through the garden, trying to figure out just what was growing. So far we've identified forget me nots, a lot of little flowers we refer to as "those blue things", daffodils, tulips, bleeding hearts, a rose bush, forsythia, irises, lemon balm, peonies, cosmos, hostas, carnations, lily of the valley, other assorted lillies, and some sort of yellow thing that just started to blossom yesterday.
We also decided to put up a little fence portion at the back of the yard to hide the not so pretty bits, and are trying desperately to grow some grass in front of it.
For not being gardeners, I think we're doing a pretty bang up job. As of this weekend, this is how the flower part was looking:
This is also how we were looking, which sort of turned into our own version of American Gothic.
Our flower garden success led to a belief that we could now do ANYTHING, so we decided to go ahead with our veggie garden in the back corner of the yard. TJ learned how to use a rototiller, and I learned how to use a garden rake to make hills. The veggie garden was a whole other adventure in itself. A short list of items we have found in it so far include a tea cup, shelf brackets, and a jawbone with teeth. I have no idea what happened in the back corner of the yard 20 years ago, but it sort of sounds like a tea party gone wrong.
Nothing has been planted just yet, but the seedlings I started are looking promising.
So right now things are looking manageable, though I suspect this is because the irises haven't hit their full stride just yet. In August I'll probably be putting out an SOS call. Possibly to the guy who brings the topsoil.