As the summer draws to a close, it feels appropriate to write a “what I did on my summer holidays” type of post. This summer The Enabler and I were lucky to get a little time away to visit my parents in Canada, Newfoundland to be specific.
For those not familiar with this particular corner of the world, it is indeed rather lovely, provided that the weather cooperates. Snow in June was an actual thing this year, though it was more the London type of “snow” where a few flakes bring the city to a halt. While Newfoundlanders are used to “real snow”, which is about 30cm in one go, summertime snow is a bit of an anomaly, and luckily for everyone the weather was great when we were there. If you can visit, I would heartily recommend it.
The weather and the famously rocky terrain do present some horticultural challenges in Newfoundland. Skilled gardeners with realistic expectations of what does (and does not) grow can rise to the challenge, as Mom’s neighbor three doors up has done. However, my mother has become cautious about admiring any of the neighbors’ plants, because he will invariably disappear into the garden and re-emerge with a generous clump in need of a home. This is great, but finding a place for new plants has meant taking a pickaxe to bits of the backyard.
To keep Mom from chucking plants higgeldy piggeldy into the back garden, we decided to install a proper flowerbed in the backyard. Digging up land that had never been cultivated (except for one randomly placed plant) was a new thing for me, and I was very excited to use the pickaxe to remove the top layer of turf. Then I took a break, as I to my complete shock and horror, Mom had dozens of garden tools, but no digging fork! Since it was rather hot, the break was indeed welcome.
Digging fork secured, the real digging could begin. From a bed measuring no more than 2 meters by 50cm, we removed four large buckets of jagged, flaky rock that my geologist brother reliably informs me is shale. Newfoundland is often called “The Rock”, and for good reason apparently. These rocks were much larger than the smooth rounded pebbles that the ground keeps spitting out at home in London. The digging trophy though was an old root from a neighbor’s tree cut down several years ago.
Large objects removed, it was time to amend the soil. Mom had insisted that the soil was somewhat poor, however there were quite a few earthworms who might beg to differ. Nonetheless, we added generous amounts of a compost and soil blend. If nothing else, it was probably necessary to make up for the volume lost by removing all of those rocks. This was followed by a generous layer of bark to keep the weeds down.
Now all that’s needed is a trip up the road and some kind words for the neighbours’ plants…