I have just come in from my first bit of gardening work in 2019. I had to replant some penstemon digitalis Husker Red, a white Phlox paniculata and hosta that were moved while the trench was cut along the east fence for the greenhouse electrical line. Nothing like getting back out there after a few weeks for the holidays kept you inside. As I put heel to spade, I paused to recall what a wasteland this garden was when we started in 2014.
We moved to Mt. Ephraim in the autumn of 2013 to avoid eviction from the rectory after leaving the Episcopal Church. In the New Year, we started to look out the back. This is what our back garden looked like in the winter of 2014. The garden is north facing with a severe standing water problem. There was a row of dead arborvitae along the east fence, all presumably drowned in past years. There was no grass of any description.
An explore confirmed that the soil is loam down to about a spade depth when you hit marl, a mix of silt and clay. This is due to being just 40 feet above sea level and off the South Branch of Newton Creek, a tributary of the Delaware River. The western boundary had four mature trees on our side of the property line, one, a hickory, was covered in ivy that extended to the cedar fence. Just beyond the fence in our neighbor’s garden was a mature silver maple, already damaged from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The north end was lined in cypress trees of varying size due to the amount of light they received through the tree canopy to the west. There was a popular that had grown from seed in the northeast corner just beyond the shed.
And so to begin…