I don’t know how much…

I don't know how much gardening we'll really get to do this year -- it all depends on when we get into the site, how much machinery will be coming through the yard and when, and of course, how much money, if any, we have left over. This may be a very thin garden year. But that doesn't stop me daydreaming and planning. And as I browse through garden books, one things is becoming clear -- I really do love formal knot gardens and shapes made out of boxwood. Here's a few examples:

I'm very tempted to try something like that in the front garden (so Victorian!), but am worried about how much maintenance boxwood will require -- I don't have a staff of gardeners on hand! I gather that there are smaller varieties of boxwood that stay to around 2 feet tall, and my books tell me that boxwood needs pruning several times over the summer to keep its shape. I quite like wandering around with hedge clippers, clip-clip-clipping away -- it's much more fun than being down on hands and knees weeding! And wouldn't it be fun for the kids if there was a little boxwood animal or two hidden in a corner somewhere?

So for experienced gardeners out there -- what do you think? I'm planning on being in the garden for perhaps 30-60 minutes most mornings, and maybe 3-4 hours once or twice a week (that's mostly what I did at the condo). Keep in mind that we're probably not going to have much lawn-mowing (aiming mostly if not entirely towards non-lawn groundcover). I don't have the plat with me, but at a rough estimate, knowing that our overall lot is 50 x 178, I think:

  • my shady front garden (medium crabapple tree, boxwood, roses, climbing vines, spring bulbs, groundcover, azaleas, rhododendron, hydrangea, various other shrubs, some of which are quite large) is roughly 50 x 40
  • my sunny side lot (path, rose arbor, leading to brick patio with steppable groundcover between bricks) is perhaps 10 x 80
  • my sunny backyard (play structure, large vegetable garden, cuttings garden, garage and fence with variety of climbing vines, maybe a tiny patch of grass but I kind of doubt it, a few small trees) is about 50 x 60.

So does this sound like a reasonable amount of weekly labor?

  • water (until someday we can afford to put in a proper sprinkler system) ( -- I know we'll have to do more of this at the height of summer)
  • tend vegetable garden, harvesting, sowing greens, etc.
  • deadhead cuttings garden and other flowers, harvesting some for house
  • tie up trailing vines as needed
  • change my mind about where some plant goes and move it
  • feed and water birds
  • prune boxwood in front garden
I enjoy all of these tasks (and they're mostly good exercise too, so it cuts down on tedious gym time); I'm just trying to make sure the overall time commitment is manageable. Sound like fun? Or am I setting myself up for misery?

Later plans involve things like coldframes for winter gardening, starting seeds, worm composting, maybe a few chickens, etc. But that will wait a few years, at least, until the kids are in school and/or old enough to be slave labor. :-)

Oh, and can I grow boxwood in shade? If not, that may just knock out all my knot garden plans right there.

And for those of you with small kids, do you think I need to allow a lot more lawn / running around space in my overall plan? There's a large grassy park about two blocks away. I'm a little worried that in my current plan, there's no room for kickball or soccer or capture the flag -- all games that I played on my parents' huge grassy lawn. (They basically had big trees surrounding the house, some shrubs, and a ton of front and back lawn. Not much in the way of gardening otherwise, although they're adding more flowers and vegetables now.)

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