Nearly two and half years ago I was sitting at the receptionist desk at a vet office where I was working temporarily and all I could think about was my new home. We were in the very stressful process of buying our house, and since I wasn’t living in it yet, all I could do was dream about the plans we had for it. It was the slow part of the day, so I took a sheet of paper and began to draw my visions for the back yard. The sun room was a place that I knew we would be spending a great deal of time. This was then that I drew a “planting area” in front of the sun room.
I discussed it with my husband and he agreed it was a good idea. I knew it might be costly for the lumber to build it and not to mention the amount of soil needed to fill it. He found a way to build it from recycled wood. Right before he began constructing it I started to have second thoughts. This planter was going to be enormous! I considered planting things that were taller in height to be seen from inside the sun room, such as Louisiana Iris. I even called around to local nurseries if they had any at this time of year. However, I realized that my plant choices would be limited and I really wanted color all year long in this space. It’s a somewhat shady area in the summer, so even something like Zinnias would not grow there.
The time came for him to build it and once it was finished I was amazed at just how big it was! However, this was not long before the holidays, so filling the planter would have to wait. My husband’s family draws names for gifts because there are so many of them. This year we got to list what we wanted and I wrote down a Lowe’s Gift Card praying that this would be the one they chose to give me. Christmas Day arrived and there under the tree was the gift card. My brother-in-law asked me, “What are you going to buy with it?” I smiled at him and said, “Dirt!”
Finally things began to settle down after the holidays, and all of our visitors returned home. There was now time to work on filling the planter. I had already purchased a while back 6 bags of fresh mushroom compost. I had also bought 12 bags of top soil that had been stacked in the yard for a month. We hopped in the Jeep to spend my gift card. We started with 18 bags of top soil because anymore than that would be too much weight for the vehicle. We started to fill the planter with a mixture of top soil and mulch (I had plenty still in the front yard) and we realized it was going to take more than 30 bags to fill this sucker. Vito came up with the idea to mix in some sand that was in the yard from a former play area. Several loads of sand from the wheelbarrow were put in bringing the soil level higher. The bottom half of the planter needed to drain well anyway.
We felt that if we purchased 19 more bags of top soil, mix in more mulch, and add the mushroom compost at the top, it should be high enough. It was getting late at this point and we were both very tired and hungry. I worried to the last bag if it would be enough because if not then this project would have to wait even longer, for I was out of money to spend. Miraculously it was and now it was ready for planting…but not that day.
The next morning I gathered my snapdragons, calendula, pansies, Johnny Jump Ups, stock, and different shades of alyssum that I had grown from seed and placed them in their new homes.
It was supposed to be a morning project, but lasted most of the day to finish. As I was planting I thought to myself that a planter this size is usually seen at botanical gardens. How cool was it that I had one in my back yard! I mulched carefully around all the baby plants and watered everything in.
I realized that I had no regrets. It turned out even better than I had expected. I promise to share another picture of it in a month. By then it will be even more spectacular. But for now, I will take a much deserved break and simply enjoy it.