Karen and Dennis’ Garden

K and D live in Sacramento, California. They live in a wooden cabin-like house. They have a large garden. It means a lot to them. Looks like a full time job to me. Makes my garden look like a tip; but we can all enjoy the photos and use them for hints and tips for our own (more modest) gardens. Feedback welcome.

OUR GARDEN – An Introduction

We live in a park.  It was a beautiful and wild park in 1973 when my husband, Dennis, bought the 1.25 acres in Fair Oaks, California located in the Sacramento Valley at the base of the Sierra foothills (15 miles/24 km northeast of Sacramento).  He constructed a walkway cover from the street to the porch, hung a swing from a high oak branch, and kept the weeds green and mowed.  It was a pleasant and satisfying place to be.  But when I moved here in 1980, I was motivated to gradually take the garden to a new level.

Keep in mind that I was operating on instinct and naivete.  I had been raised by a gardener, and for years observed his ways – at times I even participated – but he had the know-how and did all the work.  So, I eased into it.  “Let’s make a flower bed over there and put river rocks around for a border,” I would say with a beautiful vision taking shape in my brain. Or, “Let’s build a retaining wall with steps in the middle and lovely trailing plants.”  

During the next 39 years, the ideas never stopped until a maintenance monster had been created.  Ninety percent of our property has been tamed, and most of it more than once.  We got our landscaping credentials through trial and error.  To our numerous projects, Dennis brought the brawn and I brought the finessing, but we both got dirty and beat up.  Most of the time, we collaborated until a solid plan was developed and executed with all going relatively smooth.  Occasionally, we were operating with different visions of the job at hand and wouldn’t realize it until well underway at which point an argument over details would ensue then a rehashing of the original idea, plan modifications, apologies all around, and back to work – this process could take a few minutes or many hours. 

There is one more area that needs transforming – I’m sure you can spot it in the photos.  Ironically, it is near the house around back and is the view out three windows.  After much discussion of various ideas, we may be close to agreement. This would be a multi-use area for a small veggie garden, a BBQ nearby, and lounging chairs or hammock in the shade of a large palm tree planted by a bird or squirrel 30 years ago.  The goal is to keep it simple, functional, and doable by two old people with minimal outside help.  If it does happen, it will be a major achievement.

Between the weather, wildlife, and natural slope of the property, the challenges have been many – some were overcome, others surrendered to.  Going forward with this blog post I’ll explain some of those challenges with photos and brief comments.  I’ll also keep you in the loop with progress reports on the new and possibly last project.

More to come.  Happy gardening.  Feedback always welcome.