Like many people fortunate enough to live where they have a bit of property around their home, our yard has been a true spirit lifter these past six months as the pandemic wanders over North America and the rest of the world. From having something to think about and make plans for, to the ability to invite a couple people over occasionally for some physically-distanced visits, we have had at least one area in our lives where we can see actual progress and take some pride in accomplishment. It has taken over a year of thinking and work, and hiring help for the heavy digging, lifting and paver work (thanks again, Pedro!), but the front patio (the “pond section at least) is done! That’s paving, planting, irrigation, and mulching! And weeding. A LOT of weeding. I did the mulching by myself, slowly once the irrigation was done. Took me 5 days to spread 4 bags(!) but I did it, and I am proud of my part of the effort.

Right now in the rest of the yard, the red apples are coming on ripe, we have harvested some “borlotti” beans, the small Asian pears are ripe, the blackberries are … beyond ripe (we have drunk wasps again), blueberries are thinking about it. We need to extend the irrigation to the blueberries, and also cut down/cut back some of the bitter cherries that are making that part of the yard so dark. Next year, hopefully, we won’t have to purchase blueberries.

Image gallery is below, here is the description of the nine images as they were laid out on my screen. After viewing the site from a couple different browsers the order of the images stays the same, but the number in each row can vary! There is more text below the image gallery.

Top row: left pic shows the boxes Grant built last year along the front of the bedroom wing and the completed ramp. There is now bark in the gaps between gravel and walkway. The middle image is an area of the pond garden before irrigation, mulching and final pots were placed. The image on the right shows a cluster of ready-to-pick red apples!

Middle row: left image a handful of unshelled borlotti (a type of cranberry bean) on the grass. Middle: the other bean plant (not sure which type), not ready to harvest. Right image is Matthew bringing a load of decorative stones up the hill in the back so I can place them around the “pond.”

Bottom row: Left image is a container full of apples and small Asian pears with four apples on the counter in front. Middle is a view of the “pond” which looks more like a dense planting of something! Right image shows the pond from a different angle with a small statue/waterfall of a young girl that will add water to the goldfish habitat every time we water the plants.

And that’s pretty much what’s going on in the garden this week. Before I could get to the patio in the wheelchair the effort of walking out and back alone was enough to restrict much of my time there. Now that I can easily move about (and it’s so much easier to walk since the path is no longer bumpy!) I am enjoying the space and getting a lot more accomplished.

Designing a gardening space for a person who is differently abled turns out to be not that different from other design: Plan for nice vistas from different angles, put a few nice surprises in unexpected places, make sure there is seating to invite people to enjoy beautiful views longer. Make primary paths compacted and level enough for crutches and wheelchairs to safely navigate. For a person who is shorter or experiences life from a seated conveyance make sure the plants are at a variety of levels from the ground through mid-range so the view isn’t always “up.” For a person who may have visual issues, high-contrast between light and dark, and textures as well as scents in plants will enhance enjoyment. These are things that don’t take any more money than other planting/design schemes.

Expenses crop up when it is necessary to transition from one level in the yard to another, when a paving is necessary (most wheelchairs can do “okay” over grass and other low groundcovers if the ground is level and dry… but where it rains or snows, paving of some kind is needed). Expenses can also be incurred if garden beds need to be raised, if tools need to be adapted or adaptable for reach and grip, or if health conditions require specific shade/lighting.

My issues mostly affect ambulation and lifting – which at my age isn’t that unusual. I also have some sensitivity to bright light (triggers migraines) so I need things that prevent too much direct sun – a lovely screen of trees to the south does that for much of our garden! Careful planning when we rebuilt – and insisting on no-barrier and low-barrier entries and transitions has saved us some money with this part of the garden remodel. In addition to hiring Pedro for the paving this year, I needed to purchase three 1-inch ramps for getting in and out of the living space of the house house when I am in the chair – our exterior bedroom doors will need something like that for emergencies if I ever completely lose the ability to walk. But since I am still fine (usually) for short distances even on my worst days that can wait. As can the other 90% of the yard that is still waiting for final landscaping!

And that’s our garden goings-on for this week.