Turn lemons into lemonade after Irene

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I hope your gardens fared well through the recent hurricane.

All of our structures came through unscathed, but I can’t say as much for our trees. We lost around 15 large trees, a lot of large limbs, and nine trees have to be cut down. My herb and rain garden took a beating.

We had two trees that were close to these areas that were uprooted and changed the look of both of these gardens. Sometimes Mother Nature does a little redesign of her own whether we like it or not.

In my case, this has been a blessing in disguise; we liked our herb and rain garden, but were they practical? As a designer, I have to confess the answer is both “yes” and “no.”

Garden designs look great on paper, design, flow, plant placement, paths, walls, fences, etc. Conceptually the whole design works and looks great. But is it practical, if it is an herb garden as was my case? Is it close enough to your house for convenience to get fresh herbs?

Conceptually my herb garden looked great, flowed well, plants were well placed, the broken concrete looked great as the pathway, my retaining walls worked well, and my rustic woven fence worked with the surroundings. It looked pleasing, smelled wonderful and grew us many wonderful herbs.

Here were the problem areas. I always felt the 4-foot path was too narrow. I also had left a 12-foot space between the herb garden and our bonfire fire pit. Conceptually, on paper it works, but was it practical?

When I collect my herbs, I usually harvest a lot at a time, so I always have a large container to hold my cuttings. With me kneeling with a large container, my 4-foot pathway suddenly became tight. Conceptually it worked, but it is 334 feet from the house; not practical when you are cooking dinner and want to throw in some fresh herbs.

The space in between the fire pit and herb garden. Even though 12 feet is a good amount of space, we discovered that when one is having a party for 50 or more people, it seems 120 acres is just not enough space for people to spread out. Everyone wants their chair, drink, kid and dog in this one 12-foot space.

Oh did I tell you this 12-foot space also serves as a walkway? Conceptually looked great, practical not hardly.

The rain garden has served its purpose well. When the metal party barn was built, I made sure the guys sloped it toward the back and a little to the right so the water from the roof would collect there and not erode a stream across our yard.

Who knew one would need an overflow drain for a 2½-foot rain garden? During the hurricane, I discovered a full rain garden that was threatening to flood my kitchen outdoors, so I had to take a grubbing hoe and dig through the bank to let out the water. I will keep you all posted on the new designs and placements.

Hurricane Irene has come and gone and left us all with some form of cleanup. Now that the trees, limbs and leaves are gone, I hope you too can see the new opportunities.

RANDY MOORE owns Avant Landscape Design in Courtland. He can be reached at AvantDesign11 @yahoo.com.