(1) What percentage of the plants in the pictures do you think came from Harlequin’s Gardens? (Mandatory Question)
(2) Did you create this garden (you and your family) or did you have professional help? Describe briefly
I had help 7 years ago removing my grass (from a laborer who was doing demolition on my kitchen). I hired Laura R. Laura is a trained permaculturalist and she helped with garden design, with the limited hardscape and with sheet mulching to build soil. I now employ the women of Suncat Gardening for their help doing seasonal pruning and garden clean-ups. The garden has evolved over the years.
(3) What is the age of this garden? What town or area? What elevation?
My garden is in N. Boulder, elevation 4,859 ft.
The garden was begun in the summer of 2011 with the grass removal, was sheet mulched in November 2011 and was initially planted in spring 2012. It’s 7.5 years old.
(4) What irrigation method(s) do you use and how often do you water and for how long?
We do a combination of watering. We have drip and low flow sprinklers for some areas, we hand water vegetables in season and have been lucky this year to have had Mother Nature’s help in irrigating.
(5) What is your soil like? Did you amend it? With what?
My soil has been built over time from sheet mulching. Every autumn it gets top dressed with leaves and compost and it’s amended annually with manure, compost and fed with Harlequin’s fertility mix.
(6) How big is your garden and how often do you work in your garden?
I have a relatively small garden that is filled to bursting with perennials and a few edibles (an Italian prune plum, herbs, blackberry vines and greens) . My front yard spaces are no more than 300 sq. feet combined. I have an additional 300 sq. feet or so in the backyard. During the spring and summer I spend at least 2-4 hours in the garden weekly. The fun thing about my jungle like yard is that I can neglect it for a couple weeks and no harm is done. I love to meander and pick bouquets of flowers. The more flowers I pick the more blooms I get.
(7) What is your general approach to gardening? What has, or currently, inspires you to garden and use sustainable practices?
I garden for so many reasons. My garden is my refuge when I need to think and recharge and it’s also my classroom. I see my own health and well being reflected in my garden and for this reason I will only use organic, nature derived pest control remedies and fertilizers. As I have tried to create healthy gut microflora for my body so do I work with the application of compost, compost tea and mycorrhizae to build microorganisms in my soil.
(8) How do you deal with “weeds”? What is your approach to insect pests and disease?
I hand pull weeds and have tried various compost tea approaches to change the soil nutrition to discourage various weeds. I’ve also found that my dense planting and healthy “desired plants” choke out unwanted plants. Insect pests are discouraged through planting and fertilizing strategies (for instance, using solar caps to put out my tomato starts in early April allowed my plants to become healthy and robust before the immersion of flea beetles). I’ve also employed diatomaceous earth, hand picking off pests and various soap sprays. Mulching my roses routinely with shredded banana peels and planting companion plants to encourage predatory beneficial insects has almost completely eliminated aphids. My ladybug friends are numerous and helpful.
(9) Share a brief story about something you learned from your garden or plants, or inspiration received from gardening?.
I feel that magic happens daily in my flower garden. Last summer I came home from a long day to discover a couple of hand painted rocks had been left in my path that read “spread joy” and “be kind”, gifts from the, now nearly teenage children, who grew up bringing their friends to tour the gardens and search for fairies. My favorite 5 year old regularly visits, hands on his hips, with the strong request “what can I eat?!”. He loves fresh garden peas and nasturtiums and blackberries that he often grabs while they’re still unripe and declares “look, a raspberry!” but is equally content with fistfuls of kale that he grabs for the long journey home (just across the street).
(10) What is your experience growing plants from Harlequin’s Gardens.
Harlequin’s plants are locally grown, healthy without the application of neonitotinoids, well adapted to our climate and overwhelmingly successful. I find shopping at Harlequin’s to be addictive; I’m forever discovering new specimens that I MUST have and my garden is proof of the adage that you can never have too many plants!