We’re coming up to the one-year anniversary of the storm which damaged our house and yard and lives. (News Flash: The last dumpster just left our neighborhood only a week ago! Hallelujah!)
After the 2011 Memorial Weekend Storm, a SCBWI friend (waves to Ruth) suggested on our listserv that we Carlsons could use money. I didn’t know that was coming. I was humbled by the response of three writing strangers from SCBWI-MI (waves to Valerie, Ginny, and ABC — forgive me, ABC; I can’t remember the name of generous person #3). Also, another MI writer (waves to Ann) sent me a box of irises, one which has already bloomed!
With our house broken for nearly six months, and our yard still needy, it was difficult to decide what to do with these special monetary gifts from my writer friends. Instead of using the money to replace food or for cleaning supplies, I decided to start a SCBWI-MI Children’s Garden around my yard. I worked at the Battle Creek Children’s Garden for a while, so I didn’t lack inspiration. Here is what I have done and planned so far:
That I can now grow sun-craving veggies in my yard goes without saying — only, I just said it. I’ll have a salsa garden and maybe a pizza garden. How about a sunflower house, anyone? (These are still in the works as the soil warms up enough for those summer crops.)
I bought seven stepping-stones to make a rainbow walk among my hostas and irises on the north side of the house, where there is actually shade. We went from 90% shade to 90% sun in just about ten seconds. Each time I pass, I go out of my way to walk the rainbow . It lightens my heart.
I made a smiley face accent with a grass walkway separating the “mouth” from the rest of the garden area (mostly irises at the moment) on the east side of the house. Inside the smile are roses, peonies, more irises, and a tall purple perennial I can’t remember the name of right now, either. I’ll call it LMN, since I know it starts with an L. I think it starts with an L.
At the top of our little western hill, next to what used to be a wooded lot, I’ve started Daffodil Hill. The twenty bulbs I planted there last fall looked stunning this spring, and reminded me of SCBWI-MI whenever I saw them.
Of course, there is the start of The Animal Garden, with tiger lilies and lamb’s ear beneath the dogwood tree. I have an elephant’s ear planted off to the side since it’s supposed to grow rather bushy.
Finally, is my chocolate garden. I already have chocolate mint, which, as a writer, I must say is a rather verbose plant. I plan on getting brown and black flowers to bloom at different times through the season, with maybe some white chocolate blooms sprinkled in there, too. I will mulch that section with cocoa bean shells. Yummy.
Thank you, SCBWI-MI. You have my heart.
I can almost smell the blooms after reading your detailed description! Although I can visualize the garden, I wish you could upload some photos to your blog. Cheers to you Sandy for surviving the storm! Thank you for taking us along on your journey through your writing.
Hi Sandy! In 2008 we had some micro-bursts of wind come through the Lansing area and we lost our shady backyard too. I had never realized what a sense of enclosure and peace the tree cover brought to the yard. I am still trying to adjust to the changeover to sun-loving plants. But you mention the chocolate garden and I wanted to suggest that you might look into the scented geranium plants to try the chocolate ‘flavors’ there! At one time, I used to have ten or eleven different scented geraniums for the children of the neighborhood to get to know (lemon, rose, chocolate, mint, coconut, spice, anise, citronella, etc.). It was great fun and they still talk of crushing and rubbing leaves to find the scents. I hope that you are feeling more comfortable in your yard now, it has taken me quite a long time, but I’m getting there. Many blessings to you,
I’m glad the irises are blooming. Mine finally have a few buds.
@Kim, I thought about adding photos. It’s still early in the season, although Daffodil Hill is gone already. Maybe a summer photo album.
@Beth, So sorry for the loss of your yard. I KNOW it takes a long time to recover. I’ve heard of chocolate geraniums, but forgot about them. What a wonderful thing you did for your neighborhood children.
What a great gift, from gifts…this will just continue to grow and grow. So glad to hear the news. As you have probably heard, most of Michigan and New York (us too) have lost most of their apple crop, peaches, cherries, chestnuts, and pawpaws, due to the really bad freeze on Sat night – Sunday morning. So, this year as the trees recover, we’ll hope for a really big year next year, I’ll think of your garden and how good it is to know someone in Michigan has a great start. We will too, it just won’t be this year. Meanwhile, the trees (300 of them) are continuing to start pushing the second buds out from those frosted, and we’ll fertilize, spray for bugs and keep the weeds down, knowing that next year, barring 85˚F for 4 days back to back in March, we’ll be able to give back more to Michiganders also. If you’d like a chestnut tree or two for your yard, please let me know. We may have some extras for you for a fall (this year) or next year (spring) planting. They make “food” for you and you’d help educate your neighborhood kids about this great chestnut tree. 🙂 Ginny
So sorry to hear about your 300 apple trees. How sad. Our dogwood tree bloomed three different times since March. I understand how horrid the hot weather and freezes have been. Sending you blessings for a bontiful crop next year.
GINNY! My words were blocked on my iPhone by an ad I couldn’t maneuver around. So sorry.
Sandy, That’s ok. We’ll work around technology. I’m trying to get more sketching of chestnut characters for a hopeful non-fiction book with some fun drawings to tell the story. Will hope for better nuts next year too. Great to hear from you.