Friday, March 12, 2010

Gardening on a Gabriola Slope - Terracing

No, not my garden. My mom's. They also have daffodiles a-bloom.

My parents have carved them out a little oasis on a gulf island in the northern Pacific Ocean. You know these people, they call you in February to report blooming bulbs and all that. And by carved out, I mean literally as the land was levelled out so that a house could be build leaving a steep slope looming behind them.

Terracing of a steep slope.

As my mother says, "This bank is at a 45 degree angle and weeding was treacherous for someone who cannot walk at such a slant. The soil was not good either and plants/bushes did not really thrive. The winter rains began to wash the soil down and it looked awful."

They decided to borrow a technique from hill farmers of old by terracing.

"We started at the bottom, drilling holes through the mini-ties (four layers thick) to accommodate long rebars to hold up the logs that shore the soil of each bed.The rebar went into the soil three feet below the ties. The first terrace is quite deep, about three feet, and required a lot of soil. The second and third are not quite so deep. Filling was hard work. Buckets of soil were hauled one at a time along the walkway, down the steps and poured into the area. We estimate that approximately five yards of soil were used for the whole project." The side mini-ties are re-barred to the soil in the same way."

I take it that the soil was delivered at the top of the hill which makes sense if you knew the lay of their land.

More terracing with soil added to the what I like to call the pre-soil of the gulf islands - read crowbar required.

"Once the lowest terrace was full, we proceeded to fill the next. I planted iris along the bed and the next. On the fourth layer, there are three lithadoras, one Himalyaan sarcococca and several more irises. My back complained bitterly as we moved assembly line - putting in soil, planting the iris rhisome, along with some tulips I'd pulled up from another spot, and then putting in more soil around the roots. Dad's arms were equally unhappy as the soil was quite wet from all the rain we have been having in January and February."

Profile shot of the terraced gardens.

"The first layer was the last we planted. From the back garden were transplanted three types of Oregano, two kinds of sage, French tarragon, winter savory, blue catmint, lemon balm and chives. I also planted three vincas on the edge of the second terrace and in the future they will hand over, creating a nice display later on this year."

"The fennel was removed from the veggie garden as I've heard they retard the growth of beans. No wonder they were so pitiful last year. Now the only herbs left in the back garen are two bay trees and a lovely big rosemary bush."

Oh that's the other things those West coasters do, boast about their outdoor rosemary and bay! Nice.

Hellebores blooming since early February of course. They are called the Christmas Rose on occasion... har har har.

So mom, I'm going to make you promise to send us an update on that wonderful garden, including the veggie patch that we enjoyed last year. P.S. My mom won a ribbon for her Trombocino squash at the fair last year - most unusual vegetable I believe.


Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Wow! Beautiful, but a lot of work! I am sure it will be worth it in the years to come, though.

Stefaneener said...

We don't exactly boast, we just enjoy it very loudly. . .

Your mom's terraces are beautiful.

Sigrun said...

All I can say is AMAZING. I hope you keep us posted as the gardens change through the seaaons.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Stefaneener: Ah, that's what it is. Anyhow, it's more the overwintering globe artichokes I'm jealous of.

Sigrun and Sheryl: I agree. They did a fabulous job.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful! I have seen some other examples of terracing (I didn’t know that it’s called like that), but never on such a large area. It must have been a lot of work.

Dan said...

Cool Garden!