Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When I arrived here at Powell Cottage, nearly 20 years ago now, it was late December 1990. The grass was brown the trees were bare, and the stone cottage that I fell in love with was trimmed in a harsh brown against white clapboards and beigy/yellow stone. I knew at once that the dark brown had to go. I spent time picking out the paint colors so that the house would be softer to the eye and not outlined as if in a coloring book for children. I changed the brown to a medium taupe and the white to a light taupe and that was the beginning of my influence at Powell Cottage.

The front yard had only one tree. It was a about 4 feet tall and as it was Winter it was leafless. In the Spring I discovered that it was a Maple. It was on left of center in the yard as you looked at it from the street. I had no preconceived ideas about trees at that time so I thought that I would just let it grow. In the backyard there was one Pecan tree at the center and very back of the yard. It was relative large and the only large tree on the entire 1/4 acre. There were several old and spindly peach trees scattered about the yard, but they wouldn't last much longer so I didn't give them much thought.

Twenty years later I look back at it and I do not know when each change took place. It is an organic process in every way. I would always be an organic gardener and the creation of the gardens of Powell Cottage would be organic as well. I was moving towards sustainability, maybe even permaculture back then and I had not even heard the terms. When left to our own devices I believe that most of us will move in that direction. You might even call it laziness. The natural happens. If you could find a way to take care of yourself and your family without needing to keep up in a capitalist society then I think that the ways to do that naturally are in fact the easiest. As I sit here the back door is open I have one ceiling fan whirling above me imitating the outdoor breeze. I am easily more comfortable than when I am in the same temperature brought about by air conditioning or heating.

Back to the Maple tree. I let it grow for a year or two longer. It never seemed to get any larger. Then one evening I got a wild hair and decided to move it to the back yard. Now, I cannot remember what made me do this. I worked for a very long time digging the hole around the tree deep enough to encompass the roots as best I could. I remember that it was dark when I finally pulled it from the hole leaving some roots behind and I recall. It was dark and I truly don't remember how I stored it for the night, but I did plant it the next day in the back yard and now it is over 15 feet high.

That tree if over 15 feet tall now, and even after all of that trouble, this tree will be coming down soon. As my Pecan tree continued to grow and two of the neighbors Oak trees have grown as well the Maple is scrawny and branches out in a weird distortion of Maple growth just to get to the sun. That was however my first foray into transplanting success. Moving that tree less than 100 feet changed something and it began to grow at a much quicker rate.

That first transplanting success is one of the things that keeps me going here at Powell Cottage.

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