My thumb is gradually turning brown. Not because I can't grow anything, but because I'm spending more and more time with it stuck in the mud. I do the regular mowing, weeding, etc. but those tasks are quite rightly called yard 'work'. When the work is done, you'll find me puttering around my pond or carnivorous bog. That's where the fun is.
I like to use as many native plants as possible in landscaping. They are usually more disease resistant than hybrids, and require less irrigation. Water conservation is important to me, even though here in northwestern Oregon water is hardly a rare item. I find it's easier to control weeds in flowerbeds where plants are individually drip-fed. I am also experimenting with introducing food crops into the landscaping. No, I don't mean planting a row of corn along the driveway. But, how about the bold, blue-gray leaves of an artichoke as a feature in a rock garden? I'm thinking the dark green mounds and large yellow flowers of summer squash could catch one's eye as well. Rather than plow up the ground like an 'official' vegetable garden, I'm running drip irrigation to the plants and leaving the ornamental bark dust covering the soil. After the crops are gone I may replace the plants with pansies or ornamental cabbage for the winter.
I'm also interested in environmentally friendly pest control, and use as few chemicals as possible. Aphids respond well to insecticidal soap, and, mixed with sulpher, controls mildew as well.
I built the pond in August of 1999. The 'rock' waterfall was created from styrofoam, chicken wire and concrete. The whole project consumed a week of precious vacation time. I'm now learning all about pond chemistry, algae control, aphid control (yes, my water lily has a serious aphid problem), and filter maintenance.
I started my carnivorous bog in January of 2000. This is my pride and joy. It is a joy primarily because after the initial design and installation, I have had to do almost nothing but pour water on it. So far, this is the high impact, low maintenance garden of my dreams. A few weeds appear from time to time, but they are easily plucked from the soft, damp soil. I have planted pitcher plants, venus flytraps, sundews, butterworts and bladderworts. I only selected a single hybrid for this collection. All the rest (more than 20 species) are native plants, though not indigenous to my area. One plant in my collection, Sarracenia oreophila, is actually on the endangered species list. Unless something extraordinary is done, at the rate its natural habitat is being destroyed in Alabama and Georgia it will be extinct in the wild in a few years. This garden has been a source of great pleasure, watching the bugs get eaten by the plants, rather than the usual bug eats plant scenario. Check it out - it's a kick!