By Barbara Allen
When I first bought my Clear Creek, CA home in 1989, the back yard was very close to natural, with 18 large conifers, some spruce and a cedar tree. Mostly, there were manzanitas and indigenous plants from the surrounding forest; Coral Bells, and Indian Rhubarb along the creek. The deciding factor, the one that cinched the deal for me, was the pond and the creek that ran across the back yard. A bridge crossed the creek from a wood deck to more wooden paths all the way back along the 3/4 acre parcel. I immediately fell in love. It was wild, free and beautiful. Oh, and the house came with it.
I met Ken in 1990. He also has a deep appreciation of nature. He had plants in his house that he treated like pets. He brought his cat to visit me and she loved the yard immediately. Ken followed. The yard started really taking on a life of its’ own when we joined forces to create the sanctuary we both wanted.
Ken planted cherry trees, I planted daffodils. He put in a plot for gardening and I planted tomatoes and edible peas. He put in a compost pile and I bought him a wheelbarrow for his birthday. Ken has spent years collecting flat rocks to create paths all over the front and back yards, so that we can go out and wander through the life we’ve created here. These pathways not only fit in with the whole idea of a wild yard, but represent a major piece of work.
We found Wild Lilies in the forest that we brought home. Foxgloves and Thimble Berries miraculously began to appear in our yard. We didn’t plant them, but we nurtured them where we found them. Lungwort also took root on its own and of course, the ubiquitous Wild Peas. We could hardly keep up with all the new plants, which were attracted to the enriched soil and plentiful water. Even water plants appeared! Algae, Hemlock and Indian Rhubarb spread, offering refuge to the brown trout that find their way back home, having been spawned here during spring of years past.
We have planted a lot of our own selections to augment our haven, but the roses, lilies and bulbs seem to coexist just fine with their wild buddies. The only noticeable difference, seems to be that the wild natural flowers usually lose their blooms earlier. They are here so briefly that we make a ritual of going out to sit, watch and admire them while we can. The Tiger Lilies in the front yard are clumped so densely, that you would expect a profusion of blooms, but each stalk produces no more than three flowers and those are viable for no more than a week each. The Pestamon looks like a weed after its week of bloom. The Black- Eyed Susans and Shasta Daisies, of all the uninvited but welcome guests, bloom the entire summer. They and the Wild Peas, are the mainstays of both the back and front yard.
I remember when I first moved here that some people complained that nothing grows here….Things always grow, if you pay attention!
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