Building a Garden

 

Hey, Everyone! It's Steve. I’m very excited to share the first ever Woodsmith post!

To kick things off, I want to talk about one of my greatest passions.

Gardening. 

For me, gardening gives me a little bit of quiet time in an otherwise hectic day. Since we first moved in together, Sara and I have always had a garden. It is a labor of love for us both. 

We started with very small gardens and have grown them over time. They ebb and flow as we've moved from one home to another. Now that we're staying put we have big plans for the largest garden we've ever taken on.  

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After our last move, we knew we would need to start from scratch with a flat area of lawn. Instead of tilling into the soil we opted to build raised beds on top of it. The benefit being that we can better control soil quality and drainage. 

Our inspiration comes from traditional English estate gardens that have defined planting areas. For our first year, we decided to stick with four clear planting areas. 

1.) A medicinal herb garden
2.) A cut flower bed
3.) A full sun vegetable bed
4.) A soft fruit bed

Before we began, we had big plans but a small budget. We knew what we wanted but we couldn't seem to find wood that was the look we wanted for the price we needed. We decided to hold out until we found an economic solution.

Then, one random spring morning I got an excited call from Sara. She told me to meet her with my truck on my lunch break. As I pulled up, I saw exactly why she was so excited in her call. 

The local vineyard had just finished clearing out all their old vineyard posts. They were still in really great condition and made from cedar. Best part? They were giving them all away for FREE. 

We both looked at each other with giant smirks on our faces. We had found the perfect material for our raised beds. We loaded up the truck with as many cedar logs as we could fit. They varied greatly in size and were covered in nails. Cutting them down to size and removing nails was a small price to pay for free garden beds.

Each 4 x 8 bed has two tiers of posts that are mitered at the corners. We covered the inside edges with landscaping fabric to hold in our mushroom compost. We lined the bottom with leaves to keep out weeds and to add extra compost nutrients. Also, we made sure to measure just enough room in between each bed to get our push mower through. Eventually, we want to add a gravel pathway in-between each garden bed when we expand.

Despite the cold and rainy Spring, we've had great success with a lot of our plants. We grew most of the plants from seed, and I think we were fortunate to have everything grow so well considering the unfavorable weather. 

I will admit, our efforts for a fruit garden did not pay off this year. The deer and the bunnies got the best of the blueberries and raspberries. I don't think anyone would want to see a photo of a stick that the rabbits had stripped bare. Overall, we're really excited about the fresh start we've had with this garden and the growth we've seen so far. 

Recently, I realized how few people understood how important gardening is for Sara and I. Even people who see us frequently seemed to have no idea until we started sharing our stories on our blog and social media. We love fresh vegetables. We make Caprese salad from our tomatoes and basil; tea from our chamomile. The quiet moments that start in our garden and end in quality time together are the moments that no one else sees. But they're the moments that make up the truth of our life together. We really want to share with everyone the aspects of our lives that give us motivation, inspiration, and sense of calm amongst the craziness of daily life. That's really what the purpose of this blog is all about.

 

Weekend Adventure: Lamberton Conservatory

Let me start this post by saying that admission for this place is the best $3 I've ever spent. 

After winter storm Stella brought her wrath down on Rochester everyone has been pretty cooped up for the better part of a week. I needed some warm air, sun, and flowers to keep me going. Short of a plane ticket south, this is the best way I could think to spend my morning. Besides, I figured that a bunch of you North-Easterners were probably feeling the same way. I've snapped some photos to share with this post in hopes of brightening everyone up a bit! For my southern friends, we are envious. Also, I bet at least half of us are booking flights to come visit you right now. We apologize in advance for the tourist mayhem this causes. We're cold and crazy. Please forgive us.

 I found this image on the Lamberton Conservatory website. Look at all those fancy clothes!

I found this image on the Lamberton Conservatory website. Look at all those fancy clothes!

Lamberton Conservatory was built in 1911 in homage to Alexander B. Lamberton by his relatives. Lamberton was the President of the Parks Board from 1902 - 1915. The addition of the conservatory during his presidency further boosted Highland Park's already nationally renown horticulture status. It also gives me a warm and cozy place to be with nature in the dead of Rochester's winter. So thank you for that, too Mr. Lamberton. 

I had never been to the Conservatory before today. Living so much closer to downtown makes amazing places like this so much more accessible during day-to-day life. I'm quite happy to be close to it. I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived, but I wasn't disappointed. 

It might sound crazy, but being close to living plants and nature makes me calmer, happier and an overall better human. There is something intangible but incredibly good for the soul near nature. I've felt stressed out and disconnected since the weather got bad this week. Sitting in the conservatory gardens while listening to the waterfalls and watching the quail wobble around the cobblestone paths totally cured me of those feelings. Leaving, I felt like I could breath again for the first time in awhile. It didn't even phase me that I was walking past giant snow banks on my way back to the car. I was lighter and I was happy. 

Believe it or not, there is science to back up the feeling of "peace" and "wholeness" I felt after spending time in the garden. There are many studies that have shown that gardening and spending time in nature can significantly improve your physical and mental well-being. From Alzheimer's and depression, to heart disease and cancer, there are correlations between time spent near nature and risk reduction. So, for those of you who are close to Rochester and dreaming of spring, I highly suggest grabbing three dollars and heading over to the Lamberton Conservatory at Highland Park this weekend. It is beautiful, peaceful, and good for you! Not bad for only 12 quarters! Tell Lucky, the wonderful and rather pampered queen duck that I say hi. 

 This is Lucky the Duck. She is the self-proclaimed Queen of Lamberton Conservatory. She pushed my leg out of the way. It was impeding her preferred route to the pond. She's fabulous... and knows it. 

This is Lucky the Duck. She is the self-proclaimed Queen of Lamberton Conservatory. She pushed my leg out of the way. It was impeding her preferred route to the pond. She's fabulous... and knows it. 

For more information about hours and directions: http://www2.monroecounty.gov/parks-conservatory