I'm finally getting some down time winter has found Iowa and work has slowed to a crawl our current temp is 5 degrees and it is miserable outside so I thought I would share some pictures of my season and our new gardens and projects. I had a disappointing bloom season at home with the Iris very few seedlings flowered here and we had rough weather with strong winds and driving rains so it made it tough to even evaluate what did bloom other than colors but there were some that looked promising and while the field was tough this year looking back through the pictures I was able to get a lot of other projects accomplished around our new home that turned out really well so I thought I would start there. Here is a time line from when I started on the gardens for our new home last summer to where I ended up this November.
These were taken in July as we were starting to work on clearing the land and get it ready to built on, when we bought the land it had 3 old barns and silos that needed to be knocked down and there was old farming equipment buried everywhere that had to be moved. The more time I spend working there the further back I wanted to push the house away from the Highway which required moving a lot more dirt than anticipated and removing trees the back of the property was filled with Thorny Locust that needed knocked down we didn't want to take a chance of the kids putting one of those things through there feet. I knew I was in for a lot of work but was shocked at how much goes into just getting a piece of ground ready to built on
The 3rd picture shows dirt piled up along the front of the property for a berm, this comes from us trenching in water and finding out the hard way that the county buried the main water line on my side of the fence instead of where it was supposed to be at in there right away. I called for locates before we started trenching and running irrigation lines and there map and flags showed the main water line was supposed to be 20 ft away from where I wanted my lines to go. You should of seen the look on my face when water shot out of that trench with pressure behind it not a good way to meet the neighbors by knocking out the water supply so instead of trenching at that depth and risk hitting it again we raised the water line up and I decided to built a berm across the front of the property and plant spruce trees for some privacy a huge expense at the time but Im glad I did it now they look wonderful.
The next project after getting water trenched in was moving the Iris to there new home which was very challenging with the short window I had too do it. Our Summer last year was wet it seemed to rain buckets every other day which in a normal year oh well but when your trying to move thousands of plants in a couple months before the ground freezes it was not fun its one thing to dig when there dry its another project itself to dig them in the mud because your out of time and I could not get the farmer in to bed shape my rows until the end of July. It took us 7 weeks to dig and move everything between the rains, the named plants went 1st because they were the simplest to move, the seedlings that had not bloomed were twice the work because they needed to be dug and kept together and re planted that way. I did have some luck last fall we had a extremely warm fall without a kill frost until late November and they seemed to grow really well in there knew home, each row is about 300 ft long and holds roughly a 1000 plants to give you a idea of what is here.
July 27th & Sept 7th
Sept 18th & 20th
I started working on moving trees in November last year for the berm in the front of the property we hit a dry patch and the ground had not froze so I was able to get a lot of the spruces from our old home spaded and moved without making a mess of the yard there and the truck was able to drive right on top of the berm and plant them with out sinking Our new neighbor is a tree farm which worked out wonderful as he had some good size spruces to match what I was missing to complete it with.
Decmber was much of the same beautiful weather for Iowa and dry.. I got grass seed drilled in the front and back hoping we wouldn't have to look at mud all spring and started working on the ground behind our property trying to get it graded and ready for berms was able to get my retaining wall built where our tropical gardens will be.. our season ended shortly after completing the wall just as the construction part on the inside was really picking up.
I started seedlings in January last year in the greenhouse again growth and germination was Outstanding these pictures were taken in early April and they were huge already and needed to be transplanted to the field. Its always amazing how fast they put on growth once they get in dirt and start to get rained on especially with a root system.
April 16th.. One of the best winters I can remember.. last year it was short and quick and spring seemed to come early and I had a busy April and May starting with working on landscaping in the back of our home. I really enjoyed what we had at our previous home so went to work trying to create something along those lines but wanted to make the berms bigger so I could add more trees , shrubs ,confiers etc..The old house still had not sold so I had no choice but to spade some more favorites out of the old berms I also had some compost trucked in for the tropicals and roses and spread before the sidewalk went in they seem to grow so much better here in it at our old house so I thought why not plan ahead and give them the best dirt possible.
April 22nd .. Trees are blooming and the plants have woken up and looked awesome I was excited for the Iris this year at this point they looked good. It was dry and I was able to get the farmer back in the field and get another 5 rows bed shaped for my new seedlings I ended up filling all of those rows but the last one with seedlings.
June 10th.. Bloom season was gone and while the Rain throughout May was not a record it seemed to rain more than the sun shined and I figured out we had drainage problems in the back the water would stand for days after a heavy rain and not drain and my sidewalk was acting as a dam and nothing would grow there unless I came up with away to get water to flow away so back to trenching and running drain tile all over the yard
August 29th.. Plants were finally starting to look like something in the back.. Most of July and August were incredibly hot and dry here once again in a normal year no problem but when you spade big trees they require lots of water because of lack of roots so while I was successful keeping the good majority of trees and shrubs alive it seemed like all I got done all summer was to drag hoses around and water What a difference a summer can make with rain
Oct 8th.. Fall weather after trying to seed the back yard twice this year I finally broke down and paid to have it hydro seeded and it worked like a charm within a couple weeks it was green and I started to realize the worst of it was behind me
Oct 29th.. I dug the bananas for the season and enjoyed the fall colors of the trees and finally having grass again
Name: Bonnie Sojourner Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a) Magnolia zone
What a challenge and you have accomplished so much in a very short time. I know that during the process it must have seemed like it was taking forever but to carve a home place out of an old farm area is quite a feat. I loved the photos of your old garden and now I am going to love the photos of the new area a lot more. Your iris fields are going to be awesome.... perhaps I should say awsomer! I would be hard pressed to leave them during bloom season. I hope you get a great winter and I am really looking forward to photos this coming spring.
Thro' all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing; It finds an echo in my soul— How can I keep from singing?
Brad, that is awe-inspiring!
Love the mix of foliage colours in your beds and I myself is green with envy when looking at all that space for irises!
I do not envy you all the hard work though, but looking at how far you've come in such a short time, I'm sure it was worth the effort!
Question: What does 'hydro seed' the grass mean??
Of course I talk to myself; sometimes I need expert advice!
Brad, I'm blown away! You've done such a masterful job of designing the landscape! I find an open, blank slate the most challenging; you've done amazing things in a short time! I'm excited to see spring arrive to your garden!
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
I am deeply, sincerely, and truly impressed with the work you were able to put into making your new home in a (relatively) short period of time--especially considering you also have a business to run. Wow. Looking forward to photographs as the landscaping matures.