Monday, May 2, 2011

We're Committed Now

Wait, that doesn't sound good, does it?  We're still at home, we're not in an institution....yet.  But if we keep up this behavior long enough we may have to admit ourselves to an asylum.  What a long weekend it was.

At first I was standing alone with the conviction we had to tear the Formal Garden apart.  Then gradually, Carl came to see the logic in the idea, too.  But we keep putting it off. We've been talking about doing this for years now but that's all the farther we ever got with it, conversations went along these lines:
"We'll take the rocks out and make it smaller in
A.  The Spring, before the growing season.
B.  The Fall, after the growing season, but before the snow flies.
C. Or maybe next year in the Spring or the Fall.

We procrastinated because it is such a big job.  It's truly daunting.  But it will all be worth it in the long run. 

At least that's what I keep telling myself.  And Carl. 

Yes, Carl.  The poor man is now also committed to helping me.  I should say I'm helping him, because this is a very heavy-duty job.  It's not just the rocks, which of course, are heavy....but we're used to that since we've been messing around with big rocks for over thirty, it's the fact that taking a garden apart is more difficult than putting a new one in because now we have trees to work around and shrubs and we just cannot get in to the area with our tractors to take the rocks out.  This was the second garden we ever built.  There were no big trees to contend with on our two acres when we put it in, just teeny seedlings.
Joel, four years old in 1990, weeding the little spruce seedlings
He's 24 now....and right back where he started, reversing the process.
Joel helped build the Formal Garden, too, and when he's around, he's helping to dismantle this part of it.  Yesterday afternoon he lent a hand for a few hours before he had to leave.  (Oh, us old people appreciate his help, more than he knows!)
Aerial photo 1988...the big circle is the Formal Garden aka as the Rock Garden back then.
Looking at the old photo, if we could just drive up to the rocks on the outside it would be so easy to remove them now, but the trees are a 'bit' bigger now.
This picture was when we were going through our 'stone pathway phase' in the garden which didn't last long because weeding was impossible.  Of all the gardens we have around here, this one has gone through the most changes.  It's always been a challenge. We took out all the fieldstones and used the flagstones to build walls.  Where the birdbath is sitting is where the dome is now.

May 2010...the field stone is all gone (and the birdbath) the flagstone walls are in place, we built the dome in 2004 and the trees have grown.  A lot!

To get those big boulders out of the garden without destroying all the trees and shrubs is proving to be our biggest challenge yet.  We started on Friday afternoon by taking out some of our prized plants first.  I think there will be lots of duplicates left behind.  I put out the word I have plants for anyone interested, but I'm not holding my breath.  Almost everyone I know has enough plants from me now.  Nobody wants any more, ha. 

On Saturday, the wind came up and howled and swirled and was just so intense it was scary at times.  No storm, just Wind and it was cold, in the upper 40's.  Carl and I moved 200+ primroses out of the Formal Garden and into the woodland bed, plopping them in here and there amongst the hostas.  I hope they survive.  We worked for twelve hours on Saturday and finally limped into the house at dark. 

What I hate the most about this time of year is that I don't have a maid in the house making meals and cleaning.  To come in from outside after a grueling day of grubbing in the dirt and then have to face housework is almost too much.  But, hey, I had way over 10,000 steps on the ol' pedometer and I hadn't even gone for a walk.  That was just schlepping around the yard going back and forth planting and transplanting.  Still won't impress my M.D., but who cares?  You all know how much work gardening is. 

On Sunday afternoon we had a small get together with Carl's family for assorted birthday celebrations and then we went directly home again.  It's been so wet that we couldn't get a tractor down here until I begged and pleaded and whined and the menfolk obliged.  We started pulling out rocks. Joel had gone canoeing earlier in the day and was home, so he went and got his tractor and we gave it a shot.  We didn't get stuck!  Hooray, hooray.

First rock out, and dangling from the H.  This is a relatively small one....the big ones are over three times that size. is this going to work??
But Joel's tractor, the H, refused to start after we pulled out the first big rock.  His tractor is not stupid. It knows when to play dead.  Joel went up and got our bigger tractor, the 574, and then had to leave.  We continued on without him until dark.  We decided to hook the rocks to chains and drag them up and out of the garden by snaking chains through the bottoms of two rows of spruce trees and pull them out with the tractor.  Since Carl can't see me and I can't see him, there's a lot of yelling going on over the noise of the engine running.  Ah, good times.

Carl has to figure out how to 'rig' the rocks, and he is good at it.  To get a round rock to stay in chains so you can hoist it or pull it out of the ground is a talent, and one he has perfected over years of trial and error.  But even sometimes he has trouble; the rock is nearly out of the ground and then the chain slips off and it rolls back.  Gravity is especially heavy for rocks.  And we aren't as young as we once were.  We were 29 years old when we started this garden.  Carl says the rocks are much heavier now that he's 53.
One rock out---200+ to go..........I know, you can barely see the hole, but it's right in the middle of the picture.  By the time it got dark, all six of the rocks to the left of it were out, too.  (My camera battery died.)  We worked until it was too dark to see and then I had to pull the H with the 574 to get it started and we drove both tractors back up to Mom's shed where they stay when they're not being subjected to the lunacy around here. 

When we got back from putting the tractors to bed, I went out to check on the greenhouse for the night.  That's when I found a little package sitting in the greenhouse:

I don't know who brought this tree over to us, but someone did.  It was so cute, a little Black Hills Spruce in need of a home, given away by a local gas station in honor of Earth Day.  Even though it was almost completely dark , we just had to plant the little guy.

Carl planting the little Mystery Tree
We're going full circle again....hard to believe, but in 30 years time, they'll look like this:
This tree was a teeny tiny sprig when we planted it too.    
Trees grow up and we grow old. We probably won't live to see the little tree get to be huge, but that's ok.  The next generation will.

I'll keep you posted on the progress around here. 

(If they let me use a computer in the Institution.)


MorningGlory said...

Karen,I've been following you for a couple weeks now, and I have to let you know how much I'm enjoying your 'journey'. Your photos are stunning!

Karen said...

Hello MorningGlory, I'm so glad to meet you. I hope you stick around for the rest of the story. I'm anxious to see how it all turns out myself. :-)

Sandy said...

Whow! I can't believe what you and your family are going through with that garden.. It was beautiful last year but I can't wait to see what your going to do to it this time... please don't over do it and stay healthy!!

Kelsie From Our Country Home said...

wow that is a HUGE undertaking for sure...glad you got a couple of tractors to work with...what are you going to do with it once you get all the rocks out?

Blessings Kelsie

Karen said...

Sandy, we're using the utmost caution and just hope we can get this done before the year is out. Thank you for the good wishes, we can use all the help we can get.

Kelsie, the rocks will be moving to a hosta garden where we will place them much more naturally. The formal garden will then be lined with low flagstone walls instead of the big fieldstone, the flower bed in front of the wall will be eliminated by the planting of grass. Much faster to mow than weed!

Randy Emmitt said...

And I thought I had a hard working weekend! All I did was till up some beds and cut down about 100 small trees and drag them into the brush pile. The willows I cut down are still by the pond, I just gave out.

El Gaucho said...

I had to read this twice to fully comprehend the enormity of your undertaking. Holy Buckets that's a big task. Next time I have a difficult task at hand I can at least remember that it's not hauling hundreds of multi-ton rocks.

Karen said...

Randy, you had a hard weekend too, 'all' you did was till up some beds and cut down a hundred small trees?! Good grief, that is a LOT of work!

El Gaucho, if we get this job done, and it's a big IF, I vow this will be the last time we move the big granite rocks. I feel sorry for the next person to live here after we are dead & gone, I can only imagine how much they will cuss us out.

Lona said...

Well the hard job is over, getting the men to agree with you. LOL! It will take time and muscle but you will get it done. It is amazing to look back at those small trees we planted years ago and see them today. I think my how time has flown when I look at the 30 foot red leaf maple in the yard that was planted forty years ago. Good grief that is too far to think back. LOL! I was 3 years old at the time.

Zoey said...

I am still LOL over your last line. If prisoners get computers, then those in mental instutions should also have access. :)

It does look like a ton of work, but I know you two will make the garden look even better than it does now.

Tufa Girl said...

I will never complain about hard work around my garden again. Even the June '10 storm and losing every tree does not compare to your project. I can't imagine your doctor does not see this as enough activity.

Anonymous said...

I was out in the garden all week and I thought I had a hard work out. My gosh, my day was a walk in the park compared to yours. Good luck on what is ahead.

Karen said...

Lona, time does really fly, doesn't it? Especially when I look back at how young I looked when we planted the trees...then I really feel old.

Zoey, thank you for the vote of confidence; right now the garden looks pretty pathetic. :-( I'm glad they'll let me have a computer on the inside.

Tufa Girl, I cannot imagine losing every tree--oh that must have been horrible! This job or ours pales in comparison to what you must have gone through.

Donna, thank you for the good wishes. I think gardening is very good exercise and I challenge any doctor to tell me otherwise. Anyone who gardens knows it's work, especially the next morning when stiff muscles announce their presence.

xoxoxo said...

oh Karen--WHY?! Why must you change this lovely garden?
And the answer to who will cook dinner is: Get a crock pot!
10-20mins prep in the morning, for a yummy roast/whatever in the evening!!!

Dirt Princess said...

sigh....i'm in love with your place....just gorgeous