The husbeast wanted to visit the house today - he had the day off and tends to get stir-crazy in good circumstances. Trapped in this tiny apartment, counting down the days until we move, is making him totally nuts. So we went.
There it is. It needs some trees. The area all around used to be farm land, so other than the occasional fence row, there were no trees until the houses were put in about twenty years ago. I'm thinking an oak in the front yard, and a catalpa in the back. Maybe a rowan in the side yard. For those of you going "WTF is a catalpa?" it's a tree unique to the eastern part of North America. There was one in the back yard of the house I grew up in, and I've always loved them. It was my 'climbing tree' of choice, so they always say 'best parts of childhood' and 'home' to me. Plus they're beautiful shade trees and look wonderful when they flower. They also grow fast enough that I might get some decent shade in this coming decade.
I intend to plant the catalpa along the slope in the back yard. This is the view off the back porch, which is off the dining room:
...that's a very small maple off to the left, barely visible. If I plant the catalpa at one side or the other, and put terraced, raised beds all along the slope, that will give me well-drained soil to plant anything I want. With the tree, part of it will be shaded and part of it will be in direct sun. Along with planting along the half-wall of the back porch, that will give me a huge range of micro-climates and I should be able to grow just about anything that this area will support.
Which leads me to a question. Other than "Square Foot Gardening", anyone got suggestions for gardening books? I've got hard-core botany books, but nothing much aimed at back yard level things. (On the other hand, I can lay in an irrigation system with no trouble, if I get a wild hair.) I'm mostly wanting to grow dye plants and a few foods. Some flowers. Nothing extreme. Plus composting; I want to put a compost pile back in the back near the blue blob to the right side of the photo above (that's the neighbor's boat covered in a tarp, and about the limit of our property at that corner). For landscaping, I intend to stick with plants native to the area, or as close as I can come. Normally that leads to low maintenance grounds.
So, suggestions? Books, web sites? Composting, raised beds (building and using), organic gardening, low-maintenance landscaping? E-mail or leave it in the comments. Thanks!
For those of you in the "exotic is where you're not" category, here's a photo I snapped today, of a typical western Pennsylvania village:
They're scattered all through this area. We're moving to the fine line between the end of bedroom communities for Pittsburgh, and the surrounding farms and mountains and mines.
It was hazy today, but you get the idea.
The story on the house is (some of you were curious), the owners are older, and both beginning to have health problems. They're moving to Ohio (ironically, one county north of where I grew up, practically in my back yard) to be near their children and one parent in their nineties. They don't want to sell the house, but are facing the fact that it's time to get something smaller and with less ground to keep up. Which is why we're trying to be tactful about the whole situation and not do booty-shakes through the house, cheering about scoring such an awesome house. Though we HAVE made all the very polite an admiring comments on what excellent shape the house is in. In fact, that's why they were there for the house inspection: the gentleman of the house was damn well going to be on the spot for anything said to be wrong with his house, because he wanted to know. It gave us the opportunity to politely explain why we need them the hell out by the deadline, so it was all good. I think they feel a little better about the situation, knowing their house is going to a couple of people who will appreciate it and not knock holes in the walls.
So, at this point, it's just a matter of getting through June without killing any of the assholes who are smoking in the laundry room here. Then I get my couch back. I miss my couch.