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Making the new home feel like home - inaugurating the garden with a ceremonial flower bed

 
pollinator
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Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Hi all,

My husband and myself recently purchased our first home, 1,5 acres of sloped pasture and forest with an old watermill in the middle of it, that we are currently transforming into our new home. We are still waiting on building permits to be approved and the winter weather hasn’t allowed us much garden work in terms of planting yet (lots of cleaning up to be done though), but I felt the strong urge to start at least some small project to ceremoniously inaugurate the land and make it feel more like my future home. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I wanted to really treasure the feeling of soon being able to put my own proverbial roots down into the land we purchased. I settled on transforming a pile of rocks next to the house that were overgrown with moss into a natural flower bed. I hollowed out the space behind the largest boulders, reinforced the wall with some extra stones, put in a layer of dead wood and leaves, topped it up with soil and filled it with perineal rhizomes of lily-of-the-valley. Finally topped that off with a thick layer of leaf mulch to protect then from any frost that might still occur. It was the simplest thing, but it made me feel good, and I’m sure that every time I will see those lilies bloom in the next years, I will think back to that happy time just after purchasing the land and realising we now had our own place to call home.

What did you first do when you bought/closed a deal on your piece of land/house to inaugurate it? I’d love to read about your little personal ceremonies to make the place start to feel like home!

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pollinator
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Congratulations S.,

I relate to wanting to do something, plant something, commemorate the occasion with a tiny version of what is to come. It's a little hugel mound!

Looking forward to seeing lots of pictures as you begin building and planting and implementing all your plans.

What are your plans?

All the best  . . . .

 
master gardener
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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I really like the look of the rocks and moss, that'll be a really neat memory.

I was so excited when we first got our place that I immediately bought some fruit trees in pots and planted them in the soil, pot and all, because I didn't know where I wanted to plant them. I probably should have just waited and prepared an area for them first, but I'll always remember it.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Lee Gee wrote:Congratulations S.,

I relate to wanting to do something, plant something, commemorate the occasion with a tiny version of what is to come. It's a little hugel mound!

Looking forward to seeing lots of pictures as you begin building and planting and implementing all your plans.

What are your plans?

All the best  . . . .



Thanks Lee!
Right now I have so many plans, it's hard to know where to start.
Ofcourse one of the most pressing things right now is finishing the house so we can start living on the property. Connected to that we are looking into if and how our site could produce hydropower, given that it is an old mill site.
You can read how that is going along Here

While waiting for building permits and the work on the house to begin we have been planning our garden. Our main plans are getting a small fruit orchard / food-forest hybrid going on our of our sunny clay slopes; You can read about it here, and here, then getting some chickens/ducks/geese into the system (but that's something for next year probably). We also intend to get a vegetable and herb garden going. Because of the current poor soil conditions (more like: lack of soil, abundance of rocks), we are looking into creating raised beds with wood chips / or small huge mounds to start with, while trying to create / add soil on the terrain trough years of composting and chop-and dropping cover crops and adding wood chips. We will be seeding the remaining open spaces (especially the areas below the fruit trees) with a wildflower mix to attract bees. We intend to keep bees in the future as wel, if things go well.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Steve Thorn wrote:I really like the look of the rocks and moss, that'll be a really neat memory.

I was so excited when we first got our place that I immediately bought some fruit trees in pots and planted them in the soil, pot and all, because I didn't know where I wanted to plant them. I probably should have just waited and prepared an area for them first, but I'll always remember it.



I can totally relate! I just bought a bunch of fruit trees in a clearance of a local tree nursery specializing in old and wild varieties (only 4 dollars for a potted tree!), I was so exited. However I haven't prepared my terrain for them yet!! Still need to do a soil test and then create the mounds ,while adding the right soil improvers where the trees will be planted! And now it has been raining for two weeks, so not really great weather to be digging on steep terrain. I've only just started and already I've done some poor planning LOL.
 
pollinator
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What an enchanted place, I feel excited for you!

We bought our house 20 years ago. Before we lived in a tiny apartment in Munich with a basil pot tied to the outside of the window and a water kefir in the kitchen as only things that had to do with "growing" things.

When we decided to buy a place we looked everywhere (prices are prohibitive in the Metropolitan area, if you want a bit of a garden you easily pay over a million Euro). We found an abondoned house with garden in the (very) outskirts that was sold by a private seller and were very lucky to get it.
I was so excited to have my own house, and a garden enclosing it! (usually you can only afford a row house if you buy here).

Modernizing the house had priority so I did not garden much in the first year, but it was enough for me to detect all those plants that existed in the garden, neglected over 7 years: Roses, perennials, fruit trees, berries. Then I started to tend to those, prune the trees and bushes, make changes to remove those plants I did not want to keep and to add those I wanted. I took pictures of my most beloved spots and converted the garden into something that had my imprint.
I remember the first or second spring when we gazed in wonder at the buds of the apple tree. Our old neighbour came to the fence and commented good-humouredly: What are you doing, inspecting your property? (she used an historic Bavarian term for property that goes beyond the mere real estate).

Now the garden has changed a lot, there is only one apple tree from the trees that existed and the currant bushes.
Most other things were replaced, had to move because of remodelations and ground works, and the garden is still not "ready". That is the nice thing about a garden that you can always plan and dream!
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Hi Anita,

I enjoyed reading about your first years on the new property! We're in the same boat where finishing the house has priority over the garden right now. But you are right about how pleasant it already can be to just detect whatever plants you already have going in your garden, especially when having lived in a house without a garden prior (same here!). Every time I head over to the property I'm discovering new plants emerging from their wintersleep. It is just such an absolute pleasure!
I'd love to see pictures of your garden now!
 
pollinator
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S. Bard wrote:What did you first do when you bought/closed a deal on your piece of land/house to inaugurate it? I’d love to read about your little personal ceremonies to make the place start to feel like home!




My ex-husband (and still partner) and I, every time we'd buy a new house, would find a way to sneak out with a bottle of champagne and pee on the land in the backyard...even in the city. Without even knowing it, we were into permaculture before permaculture was cool.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Diane Kistner wrote:

S. Bard wrote:What did you first do when you bought/closed a deal on your piece of land/house to inaugurate it? I’d love to read about your little personal ceremonies to make the place start to feel like home!




My ex-husband (and still partner) and I, every time we'd buy a new house, would find a way to sneak out with a bottle of champagne and pee on the land in the backyard...even in the city. Without even knowing it, we were into permaculture before permaculture was cool.



Haha so you were marking your territory in a very literal sense. I like it.
I'm guilty myself as well, but that's just because we don't have any bathroom on the property yet!
 
Anita Martin
pollinator
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S. Bard wrote:
I'd love to see pictures of your garden now!



The garden looks a bit bleak right now and honestly is not in the best shape.

The remodelations of the last years have taken away some of the charm:
First all the outer walls got insulation (which made a huge difference: before we were always cold in winter but now it's cozy and warm inside). This meant that we had to remove the ivy from the front.

Then two years ago we insulated the basement all around, that meant a huge excavator dug away most of the garden and left a lot of compacted soil and relocated/evacuated plants.
In the same instance we pulled out the old concrete pathways and put in new tiles, and had to make a deep hole for a new septic tank system, about 3 meters deep, seriously damaging the roots of our cherry tree.
My husband finally got his car parking space (we had no garage, the house was built before it was common to have a car) which also ate a part of "my" garden.
All this left my heart bleeding.

I am still in the process of healing that all and try to be optimistic and see possibilities instead of all that was lost and had to change.
You always have to compromise when you have to keep the house "up-to-date" and therefore have to sacrifice things in the garden.

Luckily your plot is big enough so that it is not so easy to be "spoilt" by some earthworks.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Anita Martini wrote:

S. Bard wrote:
I'd love to see pictures of your garden now!



Luckily your plot is big enough so that it is not so easy to be "spoilt" by some earthworks.



Don’t worry, I’m sure your garden will soon look like a paradise again! If you don’t have time to work on the garden yet, maybe consider seeding the open patches of dirt with a wildflower mix. It will help with the compacted soil somewhat, will attract lots of bees and butterflies, and will make your garden look like a paradise in no time. Then when you have more time you can plan to plant back some perineals and trees!

As for my plot: the main feature of it is that it is not accessible to heavy machinery. Which can be a bit of a pain because that means a lot more manual labor to finish the house. But I’m trying to see the bright side of it, and I guess not having my land ploughed over and compacted by a big machine is a good thing!
 
pollinator
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S - I love your rocks; I love your stones, and your slopes and your view.  How wonderful!

The first thing I did was go out to the site in the pre-dawn and wait for the sun to come up.  
As it did, the clouds parted and I was blessed. I heard in my head "I will make my face to shine upon you."

Those words are now inscribed inside over the east facing windows.

Also, daughter surprised me with a rose bush planted at the corner of the deck.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Ruth, that seems so nice to see the clouds part like that!
We can't wait for spring to come around to heat up the terrain enough that we can go out there with our tent to camp in the garden.
Waking up with the sunrise and hearing the creek run through the garden and the birds singing sounds like the best thing yet. So looking forward to that!
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