And then… after taking a design class, after writing a synthesis document, after getting to know our land, and making time, and going through the Process …. we have a Design, a paper version of our vision! It is very exciting!
Here is the drawing of it:
In the front of the house, we will expand the existing shady wood garden with mostly New England plants. These provide a long season of different shapes and shades of green, and a succession of flowers from diminutive purple violets to tall, showy spikes of white flowers on the Black Cohosh (white – black? funny naming). The left of the house is also shady, and here we’ll plant paw-paw trees (circles with “pw”). Paw-paw is a native fruit that tastes like a mix of mango and pineapple! I can’t wait. Under the paw-paw trees, we’ll have an understory of ramps, ferns, solomon seal, ginseng, mitsuba, all edible, and some nitrogen fixing herbs. This is also where we hope to have the shiitake logs. Next to the house (big X), we’ll put a large water collector, where we can also put a bathtub for dunking the shiitake logs to make them fruit.
In the back by the deck, we will keep our lovely semi-circle of grass for parties, surrounded by a flower bed that starts in March with the crocus and ends in October with the asters.
Behind that, we’re going to have three different groves — a small group of chestnut and almonds; three rows of mixed fruit trees; and behind that, also going up the hill in the back, a grove of hazelnut rows. On the east side, we will plant two walnut trees, which need a special selection of plants that tolerate the juglone secreted by walnut roots. The swoopy paths will go around a little pond, with a pergola next to it, covered in hardy kiwi. All the groves will have nitrogen-fixing trees or shrubs mixed in. There will be some open pasture — for the mini sheep and chickens! we hope! — and some places to try out grains — rice, and a plot for the Native American three sisters (corn, beans, squash).
Each of these groves will have its own understory mix of perennial herbs that do at least one of the following tasks: bring up minerals from deep in the soil, confuse pests with their aroma, attract beneficial insects, provide pollination and nectar, provide food or medicine for people. Most of them do more than one of these things.
Ah!….. It is both exciting and terrifying to have this design. I had a big dip when it was done — are we really going to do this? It’s a bit nuts.
Well, that was all a while ago and much has happened since, and it looks like yes, we’re really going to do this! Step by step by step.