There is the Upper Garden which sits at the top of the hill above the house. This is where my gardening began. We I started out all that was there was just a previously planted Italian plum tree, a couple of rows of raspberries and a vegetable garden I attempted right in the ground. I planted a couple of apple trees which I tried to espallier and a cherry which didn't turn out to be a dwarf so its fruit is nearly impossible to retrieve.
Then the raspberries died and about that same time I lost interest in gardening for a time. The upper garden remained fallow and eventually a rather unhealthy lawn took hold.
For whatever reason, about eight years ago we decided it was time to take back the upper garden and we began landscaping that area. We invited a landscaper from the Garden Spot here in Bellingham to take a look and draw up a plan. She gave us some great ideas for the anchor plants like Rhododendrons and Oregon Grape.
I purchased a Mantis, a cute little garden tiller that works like a horse and has been a real god-send ever since its arrival. This little 2-cycle tiller has tines that will not break, and in the 5 years I have owned it I have never done anything except empty the gas at the end of each season. It still starts up with one ot two pulls of the starter and I can't imagine what I would have done without it. Best of all it only weighs 20 pounds.
The Mantis made quick work of the hilltop even though the land up there is chalk full of rocks. The Mantis would either bounce off of them causing me to dig it up and toss it in the rock pile or the Mantis would clog up with certain sized rocks that brought everything to a halt until the rock was dislodged. When the hilltop was tilled, the weeds and lawn raked out and the land leveled, it was time to build the hardscape.
We chose to build a cedar arbor kit we found in Canada (much cheaper than any we could find in the US at the time). It became the entrance to the upper garden. A path of pavers was built through the arbor entrance leading to a 6' X 9' patio. On either side of the patio we built 2-4' X 8' raised beds for vegetables and herbs. These were made of cedar as well. When completed the area was dramatically transformed and began to look like the framework for a real garden.
Next the plants were brought in and placed according to the plans we were given by Garden Spot. We did wind up shifting and even adding plants since we chose to take in more space than originally planned for this garden area. The latest photo of this areas shows the dramatic improvement over the past 4-5 years. Now recognizable only by the blue water fawcet. Oh, and that blue fawcet? It has an interesting story as well. It is commonly called a farmer's fawcet. It allows the water to drain down below the frost line after it is turned off so freezing temperatures will not burst a pipe during the winter. When we moved into this house it had only one fawcet and it was located under the back deck. It required a section of the deck be removed, you got down on your belly and reached down among the bugs and cobwebs to obtain water for the entire quarter acre. Unbelievable, but true! We now have three of these farmer fawcets, one next to the barn, another behind the gazebo and the one pictured in the upper garden. Water? No longer a problem in my garden.
The upper garden is now home to a pear, two apple, the original cherry, a new dwarf variety cherry and that old plum tree. The raised beds provide us with several herbs including Italian parsley, oregano, sage, chives, rosemary, fennel, thyme as well as lettuce, onions, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, peas and green beans.
Two new raised beds added this season have greatly added to what we can now grow and that project will be discussed in a future blog post.