Aug 8, 2011

Garden: Revolution

Before I really get into the gardening part of this post, let me give you a little background as to why I'm so pumped up about working on our ever expanding garden. As most of you know, before I was Porter's mom I was a teacher at Challenger School. For me, teaching is a calling. It is what I was born to do and it comes very very easily. As someone who wasn't an especially good student, I'm a great teacher. I knew I wanted to be a teacher from when I was in second grade, and moving to Idaho allowed me to fulfill that destiny.

I worked at Challenger for almost 5 school years. I taught preschool 3 year olds through first grade. The majority of my teaching was with kindergarteners. There were many things I loved about teaching but the top few reasons were:
  • while the routine stayed the same, everyday is different
  • I relate really well with young children
  • I love to sing and be silly
  • watching children learn to read, write and explore their growing world is an incredibly satisfying and rewarding experience
I stopped teaching in November 2010, not expecting that I would be pregnant for another 2.5 months. It was a glorious time to reflect on my past career and prepare for my next calling as Porter's mom, which I embraced whole heartedly.

Since finishing at Challenger I have been asked by many people, in the last 9 months, if I missed working. My response was always no. I certainly couldn't leave my new baby with anyone other than family, of which there is non in Idaho. I still wouldn't change my answer today. I love getting to be with my baby to watch him grow and make sure that he receives the kind of attention that I think he deserves at this young age. 

My friend Chelsea has recently taken a job teaching preschool at Challenger, and today is her first day of training. Up until today I was always sure that I wouldn't miss working, but to my surprise I was wrong. Knowing that today is the first day for all of my co-teachers, and I'm not there, makes my heart ache in a way that I hadn't expected. I'm realizing as the day progresses that I miss the anticipation of the new school year, the preparation, camaraderie and the feeling of beginning the school year anew. I think I am mourning the end of a really good relationship. One that I left to begin another amazing relationship, but it's not until now that I realize how much I miss teaching.

Thankfully, there are a few things that are helping me improve my mood today. One is that I get to spend my days (and nights) with this cool cat,

Ready for our morning stroll to the store and to grab a latte. Gotta protect those baby blues! 
Another is the knowledge that I will have many opportunities to go back to teaching once my kid(s) are older. It's a profession that isn't going anywhere. The final thing that is helping me move forward is a large project that has been ongoing since we bought our house 6 years ago, and that is the improvement of our large and majorly unlanscaped backyard. It is this project that gives me something to look forward to, and gives me the opportunity to dig my hands into the earth and make something grow. Not unlike teaching, watching a garden move from dry, parched earth to a fecund oasis is heart warming.

When we bought our home in Boise there was no landscaping and the two large trees in the front yard were dying and had to be removed.  This left us with close to 1/4 acre of weeds, dirt and some crazy grass that grows in the spring and fall when it rains. For my birthday about 4 years ago I received a pre-designed low water garden from High Country Gardens. This was a great gift and it gave life to our sad front yard.
Our house when we first bought it. Those two trees had to be taken down immediately because they were threatening to fall on our house or our neighbors houses.
After getting most of the roots from the old trees removed we planted a Norwegian Maple in their place. As you can see, there was dead grass and weeds as a ground cover. Not as pretty as it could be in my opinion.

We also planted 3 hydrangeas in the planter directly in front of the house. They fit in the back seat of the Corolla.

 This is what  they look like today. They are taller than me and touch from side to side.

 They bloom from mid-late summer when most of the other plants are finished blossoming.

The blooms start as a greenish white and in the fall they turn a lovely shade of light pink.

 The next step was to put in our low water garden and we planted a plum tree on the left.

 You can hardly see them, but all the plants are in the ground.

This is the view from the front step right before we mulched all the baby plants.

 The garden is really at it's most beautiful in the spring.

 View from the front step in the spring. You can see the Thyme Lawn is in full bloom too. Follow the link for the post I did on this lawn specifically in It's About Thyme.

"Moonshine" Yarrow


 Pink Yarrow

A volunteer wildflower

Juniper berries, gin and tonic anyone?

 This is what my yard looks like today, mid summer (mostly) weeded, dead headed and cut back. I'm hoping for second blooms on a lot of my plants when the temperature cools a bit.

It is because of the success of my front yard that I have high hopes for our backyard, which looks like this:

That's our above ground pool. It cost $7.99, what a deal!

 I also have plans to work on my square foot garden next spring. It will work!

 We planted this maple in the backyard at the same time as the one in the front. It's fall colors are beautiful.

 We also planted this Russian Sage at the end of the cement patio. We'll have more of this, please.

This is the view from the back of the yard towards the house. As you can see we have a lot of yard space and very little done. Here is the plan for the backyard,

With the exception of having a professional come to scrape off the grass and level the land we are going to install the garden ourselves. It's going to be very water wise, including the Buffalo Grass lawn that will hopefully be installed next spring. This fall we will be installing the butterfly bushes around the back edges, more Russian Sage in the middle of the yard and a pre-planned Xeric Aroma Garden from High Country Gardens to the right of the grass area. I have high hopes for next summer when my family comes out to celebrate my mom's birthday in July. It probably won't be complete, but there should be major transformation by then. While my life as a teacher is on hold for a few years, stay tuned to find out how my life as a home gardener pans out!

And for those of you who made it to the end of this post, I reward you with these:

 Porter looking like a Wilson baby...
 ...and 30 seconds later he looks like an Alton baby.
 I'm under attack!

 Gramma Mikie showing Porter her toes, pretty flexible for a gramma!
 He's smitten with her.
Coming soon: crawling.

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