This weekend I have been contributing to the world of garden karma. Sometimes we take, and sometimes we give back. I spent two lovely, brisk autumn days giving back but walked off with more than I had walking in.

Yesterday I spent a few hours at my lovely friend Denise’s house out in St Johns shoveling three cubic yards of bark dust. We really blew threw the load and her yard looks fabulously tidy now – all set for winter. Silly me ordered seven cubic yards of soil mix a couple Springs ago, so three yards of fluffy bark is nothing, especially when you have two determined ladies working through it. With a pumpkin milkshake to round off the afternoon, some rejected sugar pumpkins Denise didn’t want loaded into my car, and cuttings from her prolific rosemary bush, I walked away one very happy camper.

Today I visited my mom’s house, who claims she can’t grow anything. She hates yard work, but then spends a great many sunny summer days weeding her empty garden beds. When you have nothing planted, it’s open season for seeds since light is so plentiful. I finally broke her down and she agreed to let me plant something low-maintenance in her long, bare flower bed.

Taking cuttings from my yard and the rosemary from Denise’s yard, I showed up bright and early for work. After some weeding I began planning out where an assortment of herbs would go. Planting them now means they should be well established by next summer. Perennial herbs tend to stay evergreen, be drought-tolerant, and bring delightful flowers in the summertime. Here is an illustration of what I planted, which should provide a nice mix of textures, colors, and heights.

Her maple tree had lots of crispy leaves on the ground, so I gathered those up and arranged over the newly planted flower bed. I explained to my mom that it will invite worms (which means castings/manure and aerated soil) and that layer of mulch material means less watering in the dry months. It was a “Why soil quality is important 101” demonstration and I can see was excited about the idea of organic, healthy soil equally less hard work on her part.

Next Spring I will take pictures, after everything has grown in. In one short season she should have a healthy herb garden with plenty leftover to share with friends. I even added little bamboo stakes next to each plant, so she can learn to identify the fresh herbs.

I feel fit as a fiddle after a long weekend of yard work. It’s always such a satisfying feeling to lend a few hours to making someone’s garden more happy and healthy.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson