Monday, June 25, 2012

What's In a Name?

I bet you were wondering why I named my blog 'Half Acre Wilderness', weren't you? Well, let me tell you! We moved here 12 years ago and the back garden looked really nice when we viewed the house, but after we moved in, the closer we looked the worse it looked. Yikes, what had we gotten ourselves into?

So let me take you on a little tour of what it's looked like through the last several years. 

Upon first glance the whole garden looked really nice, but as we dug in deeper, we began to see it with a different set of eyes. The Deck looked nice, but on closer inspection we saw it was really run down, nails popping up all over the place with worn, weathered wood and lots of potential splinters. It rocked back and forth a little especially with teenagers using it as a dance stage. Although they did have lots of fun that day! I loved the bright yellow roses that were climbing up on it. I think you can just about make them out in the back ground. But this deck just wasn't practical.

Our golden retriever Caldey (sadly he got so old we had to say goodbye two years ago) found a comfortable spot on the old mattresses while we were getting new beds delivered. In the back-ground you can see more of our wilderness. 
Originally the narrow path was edged on both sides with 6 foot posts every few yards with climbers trying their best to climb up them.  The bees loved them, but the girls didn't!  They were so close together it made it difficult to walk through and the girls were afraid of getting stung and refused to go up the garden path! So they were the first plants to go. The climbing frame was the other side of the garden which was in worse state than the deck and even more dangerous.

Beyond the deck and climbing frame are fruit trees and what used to be a lawn. We soon discovered that the lawn had more weeds than grass and the sprinkler pipes that were laid on top of the ground, for some unknown reason were sooo sun baked it didn't take much for them to crack. Also the water line that fed the sprinklers burst early one morning as we were getting ready to go out for the day and water was gushing down the narrow path. Water had to be turned off and pipes capped.  No Water = Dead Lawn! Dead Lawn = Thriving Weeds!!!! And Oh Boy do those weeds GROW!

In October 2003 the hills behind our home caught on fire and spread with the winds very, very quickly! 
Hubby was working away out of state and I was afraid that the deck and climbing frame might catch fire and sparks would jump to the roof of the house. It was a scary day! But thankfully the house, deck and climbing frame were safe! Lots and lots of clean up to do afterwards though.

The climbing frame and deck was our next job for removal. We cut back a lot of trees too, some were very old and had termites in them. We rented a wood chipper, as seen below, and a large digger, (but I couldn't find any photos of the digger to show you. I'm pretty sure they have to be around here somewhere). I was allowed to take my turn at operating the digger! :-) Oh we've also rented jackhammers too! So much work, but oh so much fun! Especially when it was my turn to play!

At the back of the pool used to be Bottle Brush Bushes,  also know as Bee Bushes in our house, they too came out after the girls kept screaming when bees flew near them while they were swimming. They are messy plants and not fun to clean out of the pool either, I can tell you. We started to dig back the dirt behind the pool and used the oh so many rocks to build our first retaining wall. Not bad for our very first attempt I must say!

Our wall building progress through the next couple of years! SO MANY ROCKS!!!!!  What else were we going to do with all those rocks? Whose idea was it to have a large back garden?? Oh yes OURS! Whatever were we thinking? Whose idea was it to live on the side of a mountain?? Oh yes OURS again!

We unearthed some pretty large rocks, some we were able to move by rolling and pushing them with brute force together, some were just too large to move so we smashed them the best we could.

Others were just too stubborn to crack with the sledge hammer, we had to tirelessly chip away at them! What a pain that was! Crack you silly rock!

We have worked so incredibly hard on this back yard. Cleaning up ours and our neighbors tree branches, cutting back our neighbors ivy that climbs over the wall relentlessly every year, pulling tons and tons of weeds and spraying a ton more weeds. Having a big back garden is very labor intensive indeed.

Have you ever wanted something so bad, and dreamt huge dreams????? I have! My 'half acre wilderness' has been one of my huge dreams..... I've dreamed of how it would look and what we could do here or there. Sometimes I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, only for it to be dashed away again! Something else comes along and demands our time or our money! I want a pretty back garden, with pretty flowers, and somewhere where I can relax and not work so hard. Not much to ask, Right?

We used to ask the girls when they were young teenagers to come out and help us pull weeds after all we were doing this for them to have a nice back yard too, weren't we?....... ha ha! Two have moved out and the third one is about to leave and we are still working on this wilderness. We tried bribing them to pull weeds.... "for every weed you pull out we'll give you 5 cents". That didn't last very long either. Sleeping in and watching TV on a Saturday morning was much more inviting to teenage girls. What were we thinking?? :-)

March of last year! Wall was finally finished, rusty old pool fence long gone and we were ready for some privacy so the girls, now mostly in their twenties, could feel comfortable swimming without being seen. I took these photo's so that we could take them with us to the garden centers and nurseries to ask for their help as to what to plant. We wanted something that was fast growing, an evergreen, but didn't have huge spreading roots that would eventually damage the wall or the pool.

From my kitchen window it felt like we were living in a gold fish bowl. We eventually found some Carolina Cherry Trees  that are evergreen and planted six of them to see how they would grow in our rocky, sandy soil. They took their time but have grown in quite well so far. We put bamboo panels behind them until they have established, it's given us our much needed privacy. I was very happy when we had finished, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel once more.

Thanks for stopping by and allowing me to take you on a little tour of my half acre wilderness.
I will be back soon with more news on our progress this year! I hope you will be as excited as I am.


  1. What an incredible amount of work you've put into your place. You sure put my weed-pulling and shrub-pruning into perspective! I love the stone wall.

  2. Thank You Karen. One day I would love only to have to do weed-pulling and shrub pruning. :D