this is the stage of the upcoming performance .. well, it's a small part of the stage .. in fact .. the complete stage is the front and side yard .. the yard of a lovely home on protection island .. a home originally built by phil .. with some help from his family and friends .. the wood came from trees felled .. ? .. and milled by phil's daughter .. from her property on a different island .. beautifull lumber .. 'the best he'd ever seen' .. said the building inspector of the time .. the house wasn't built all that long ago .. maybe 20 years .. the yard and garden about seventeen or eighteen .. i've gardened there for fifteen .. but i didn't come right at the very beginning ..
phil had already built the deck .. the beds off the deck .. and the beds across the path .. he'd moved and levelled most of the dirt that came out of the ground when the hole for the house was being dug .. that's a lot of wheelbarrows full of material .. and here's the kicker .. phil had emphysema .. by the time i arrived to help him he was already on oxygen .. from time to time .. he still came out and worked in the garden .. we'd move dirt .. and stones .. and fallen branches .. and then we'd breathe .. "let's just stop now and breathe" .. phil would say and we would .. stop and breathe for a few minutes .. until we got our breath back .. and then we'd carry on .. phil was a man on a mission ..
the mission .. ?? .. to create a garden in his shady yard .. a yard surrounded by 50 foot + fir .. cedar .. and maples .. some maybe closer to 100 feet tall .. big trees .. off the central east coast of vancouver island trees .. beautiful .. monumental .. memorable trees .. at the back of the property a park .. to the side a public access .. on the other side a neighbour .. just seen through the trees .. at the front the mid island postal boxes .. there is sun .. though not much sun .. maybe an hour or two on the other side of the house .. in front the light comes over the trees to brighten the open driveway .. not sun .. light .. along the access side the light comes through the branches of the tall trees .. it's the same at the back of the property .. thus, phil's canvas dictated the sort of garden this yard would grow .. nothing forced .. "we work with what's here" .. he informed me .. as he proceeded to include me in part of his mission .. to create a winter flowering garden for nonie .. in the shade of evergreens ..
people called this garden 'phil's garden' .. but really it was nonie's garden .. it was phil's gift to nonie .. and to himself at that time of his life .. but moreso that nonie would have bright and beautifull flowers from plants and shrubs and trees .. smaller trees .. blooming for her from september through to may .. for after phil was gone .. and his light wasn't there to brighten her winters .. that's what i thought .. i was honoured to help phil fulfill his mission .. and did for four years before he passed .. or zoomed off .. we like to say ..
this is a picture of what i sometimes do with the maple leaves that fall feet deep into this yard in autumn .. remember when you were a child .. and if you were lucky enough to have a yardfull of leaves .. and you made things with leaves .. wall outlines in an invisible house .. big piles to jump into .. that sort of thing .. well, phil had told me of this idea he had .. to create a yin yang sign on the front "lawn" .. (that's another story ..) .. so we planted hellebores .. and a february daphne .. daphne mezereum .. which were meant to form one side of the sign .. we didn't finish because phil left .. so .. the other day i was remembering his idea .. and made something of a yin yang sign with the leaves and hellebores .. you can sort of see it .. in fact, it was something i wasn't really able to see .. when phil was describing it .. until i started playing with these leaves ..
raking leaves is pretty much all tanis and i are doing these autumn days .. raking leaves .. chopping them .. adding them to the leaf bin .. .. picking up fir cones .. returning them to the forest around us .. sweeping and raking fir and cedar needles .. putting them on all the pathways in the garden .. we work with what's here .. keep it in the yard .. an almost self sustaining garden .. well .. one can dream ..
at any rate .. it looks a bit more like this when we've finished .. sometimes we wonder about just letting all the maple leaves fall first .. then rake them up .. i suppose we could do that .. that just seems like a lot more work than simply doing it once a week .. and keeping on top of the fall .. after all we want to see the garden as it starts its performance .. leaves are just a distraction from the show .. better the stage be cleared of all distraction ..