Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 1
   February 2012
   Time to Say Hello

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.

Front yardFront yard
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.
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