Editor's note: This is the second article in a series of
two. The first is entitled Time to Say Goodbye.
The most satisfying way to create a garden is to work with
a blank slate. Unfortunately, not many gardeners can enjoy
this privilege. Most of us who move into a previously owned
house end up with an existing garden that rarely fits our
image of a perfect green space. So, we pursue our own vision
regardless of the bumps along the way. There are sometimes
nasty surprises awaiting us, but, on the other hand, existing
gardens can offer some beautiful treasures.
When it was time to say hello to my new garden, it was a
wet, cloudy and miserably cold March afternoon. That was the
day we took possession of our new house (and garden) in the
Greater Vancouver area. The garden looked neglected and abandoned,
in other words, unloved. It didn't fit my vision at all. My
hello then was very quiet. I was still mourning my garden
in Ottawa that I had left in the new owners' hands.
It took me a while to see that there was lots of potential
in my new coastal garden. However, I still remember my first
impression was how surprisingly lush the garden seemed to
be. This was created by two main evergreen monocultures. There
were countless native licorice ferns (Polypodium glycyrrhiza),
which with their fountain-like form gave the garden a nice,
woodsy feeling. The second consisted of masses of English
ivy (Hedera helix) that provided no nice feelings at
all, since they infested most of the garden, including the
hedges, the wooden fences and our cedar roof.
The main bed in the front yard was home to a deciduous
barberry bush (right), a magnolia tree (left), occasional
evergreen licorice ferns and masses of English ivy.