Replanting Our Yard – Part 1

If you’re a long-time reader of our blog, you’ll probably remember that in December 2010 we moved out of our 20-year old home for 9 months while it was completely renovated: walls were moved, new windows were installed, all new interior and exterior finishing, etc. All the exterior work meant that most of our plantings were so badly damaged that we ended up having a company come in to tear out or transplant the old, core the beds and supply new soil so that we could start fresh in terms of our perennials and shrubs. Our brick patios, large trees, hedges and vegetable garden came through the renovation just fine.

It was the end of August when we moved back home and we spent the next couple of months living in a construction zone while the contractor completed the kitchen and several finishing details inside. As a result, last fall we barely found time to put some bulbs in the ground before nighttime temperatures started dropping below zero and to leave the rest until spring. Spring officially arrived about 6 weeks ago, and after a couple of warm, sunny days last week, we decided it was time to start implementing the rest of the landscaping plan.

Since we asked the landscape designer to leave a couple of areas in the backyard for Mrs. GeoK to plan, the first thing we had to do was create a detailed shopping list. And given how many times we had deer visiting our backyard over the winter and how many jack rabbits are running around the neighbourhood, perhaps the most important characteristic of any plant on the shopping list is that it’s considered “deer and rabbit resistant.”

Researching perennials
Making reference to the landscaping plan we commissioned last summer, some articles clipped from our local newspaper's gardening section and a couple of newly purchased reference books on plants that do well in Alberta, Mrs. GeoK prepared a detailed shopping list to take along to our local gardening centre.

Armed with our detailed list, we headed to the garden centre on Sunday morning. Despite all of the eye-catching perennials on display, we managed to stick pretty close to our list, with very few “impulse” selections making it onto our cart.

About 90 minutes after leaving home, we arrived back at home with the back of our vehicle filled with 100 perennials ready for planting. When we pulled into our driveway, three jack rabbits were lazing in our front yard – not a good omen!

First trip to the gardening centre
Although trees and shrubs haven't yet arrived at our local gardening centre, we had no trouble selecting enough perennials to fill up the back of our MDX. Most of them were selected according to the landscaping plan we commissioned last summer, but a few were spur-of-the-moment picks.
Neighborhood jackrabbit
The neighbourhood jack rabbit population seems quite a bit higher this year. And not only are there more of the critters hopping around looking for food, but they also seem bolder than ever. This one allowed K to approach within a couple of meters before it even considered moving elsewhere.

We checked the weather forecast which showed no nighttime temperatures below freezing in the coming week and a couple of days of rain – indicating a perfect time for planting! The GeoKids pitched right in, and about 2 1/2 hours later we had almost all the plants in their allocated spots, with a few held back to plant later in the week once we had their companion plants on hand. Since our “black gold” soil is fresh, we put some diluted root fertilizer in each hole to give the plants a good start.

Here we are, just a couple of days later, and – unfortunately – things are not going as smoothly as we’d hoped. Within an hour of finishing our planting on Sunday, the rabbits had already chewed one plant down to bare stems. So Mrs. GeoK went out and sprayed everything with a natural animal repellant (which seems to be working – so far, fingers crossed).

Lupin eaten by rabbit
Eighty plants in their allocated spots in the yard, all deer and rabbit resistant and not even an hour later, at least one neighbourhood jack rabbit had already tried a sample!

We’ve been getting plenty of rain over the past two days, which means we don’t have to go out and water our new plants. But the 4 o’clock update to the weather forecast is now calling for snow and an overnight low right around freezing, so we’ve just spent an hour or so putting a breathable “igloo blanket” over all the new plants (except for the really tall ones, where tomato cages and large plastic bags will have to do the trick).

In the meantime, we purchased another 60 perennials today, which gets us 85% of the way there in terms of the shopping list. But today’s purchases will stay in the garage until the latest round of snow flurries and near freezing temperatures leaves the area.

Waiting for better weather
Some of the plants waiting for better weather (hopefully this coming weekend).

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