I've been busy lately working on a labor of love. That labor is working on our newly purchased land and trying to move my current Tiger Gardens to the land. This feat alone would keep me busy for months but I've also undertaken the task of designing the property.
Well, one part of design you can never get away from is measuring the area you plan to design. For a 600' long field that is on average 150' wide, the measuring can be a daunting job. But! With the help of one Mr. Fix-it, a compass, measuring wheel, 300' measuring tape, and several hours of work we were able to get the job done a few weeks ago.
I have found over the years that I have been designing landscapes that the best most accurate way for one person to measure a property is to use a baseline. When I measure homes and their yards I normally set up a baseline parallel to the house and take all measurements off from that one baseline. It is then very easy to be accurate back in my home office because I know precisely where my baseline is in relation to all of my measurements and in relation to the house. On our property since we have no house I ran my baseline down the center of our large field. Once this was done I used my handy dandy Army compass to give me the heading of the tape measure. In my case my heading was 250 degrees (looking west) and 070 degrees looking east. Our field is somewhat on a slant which is something I am not too happy about. Mr. Fix-it and I want our home to face due west (270 degrees) with the back facing due east (090 degrees). The difference is a mere 20 degrees but this difference makes a big deal with natural lighting inside of a home. Many folks prefer their house to be oriented on a north/south axis but we do not. Our current home faces east with the back heavily shaded by oak trees facing west. We love it! Gardening on either the east or west sides of a home in Tennessee is very easy because there is usually lots of good lighting. East exposures are preferable to west exposures. Gardening on either south or north exposures has its challenges and I find when I visit homes with that orientation I simply do not like it. At any rate, the orientation of the field does not matter at this point. It simply means our house will be a different direction than facing straight down the field. But even that is not yet determined since I have not completed my design.
Once I have my baseline oriented properly I begin taking perpendicular measurements off from both sides of the tape measure every 10' feet or so. I annotate all measurements on graph paper I carry with me. Mr. Fix-it and I found our field to be a full 600' long. It started at the west end to be only 87' wide but at the east end it was about 300' wide. The east end of the field (the direction we are looking in the above pictures) will be where we'll build our house. Both the above picture and below picture are looking east from the west end of the field. You can just make out the top of our gazebo in the far distance. That gazebo is our 'home away from home' while we work on the land and once we begin the house build. Looking at the gazebo you can see the field slopes down slightly on the eastern side. Our house will be built on the high point of the field to the left of where you see the gazebo.
I included this picture to also show my other labor of love-moving my garden. To date I have planted approximately 6200 daffodil bulbs of several different varieties. Some are late blooming, some are very early, some are white, some are doubles, some are yellow or a combination. Some bulbs are newer cultivars and some are very old cultivars. If you look closely you'll see the yellowing foliage of some of the daffodils I recently planted. Daffodils can be divided and transplanted at any time of the year. You should always leave the foliage until it turns yellow. Unfortunately these bulbs had their foliage turn yellow prematurely since they were dug up and transplanted. Transplant shock will get bulbs as well as plants. The bulbs will be in a bit of shock for a while but should still bloom next year. I have learned a few lessons in my current gardens regarding daffodils. You do not want them planted too closely to shrubs. The shrubs will quickly overtake the daffodils as they grow large. It is very difficult to dig out the daffodil clumps once the shrubs get large due to the roots. To prevent this issue I have left a 10' buffer between the daffodils and the shrubs. All along the driveway I planted hydrangeas, crepe myrtles, and some grasses. Right now the shrubs are not much to look at but they will do well with time. On the northern side of the field next to the forest I left about a 15' foot buffer between the daffodils and the forest. This is for mowing and walking purposes only.
I don't think (in fact I know) I will be able to take all of my garden to the land but I am making a good valiant stab at it. It seems whatever is in bloom and can be moved reasonably easy is what I am moving. Besides the hydrangeas (11 PG, 7 oakleafs, 5 eight foot crepe myrtles, and three clumps of plume grass) I have moved some Japanese snowball bushes. I was able to dig up more than a dozen from around my very large Japanese snowball bush. I could not dig up the mother plant as it is much too big and probably would not survive the move. I am just as happy taking the smaller plants anyhow as they will settle in much faster than the bigger plants. I planted eight Japanese snowball bushes at the west end of the field. The large white 'snowball' blooms will be a focal point from our house. One that we will easily be able to see when looking all the way down this field.
Since the field narrows at this end I used my handy cloth measuring tape and curved it around a perimeter of the field set back 15' from the woods. I then measured every 10' along the tape measure and sited my Japanese snowball bushes. I put five on the outside border and three more offset on the inside curve. When looking at the 'hedge' of snowballs from the house it should look like one solid mass of snowball bushes. But! I will still be able to mow around these bushes and they will have plenty of space to grow.
This is just a long post but sometimes to get all the info of my thought processes out there posts need to be long. I oftentimes look back at posts to see what I have done and why because as I get older my memory fails me. Thank goodness for records, designs, and blogs....
in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden