Gardening helps me stay connected to the Earth and helps me keep my center. I started out not knowing very much at all, but learned many things from my grandparents before they were gone. I learned more as the years passed and now I'm not exactly an expert, but I am certainly not a novice any longer either. I like passing on what I have learned to others. I love sharing my plants and being able to give seeds to neighbors, acquaintances, and my family.
The garden is informal and I try to let it grow as naturally as possible. Most of the trees, shrubs and plants are packed tightly into the footprint of the property. This reduces maintenance and gives the garden the untouched/unspoiled look I love. I have incorporated a lot of stone into the garden which provides some structure, but still leaves the garden looking organic. Harvesting a granite horse hitch and four granite slabs from the yard helped with the decision to use rock throughout the landscape. Everything that will break down in a compost pile ends up in the compost pile in the back yard. Currently, the compost mound is about the size of a small to mid sized car. It yields the best soil you could ever imagine. I do use some mulch to keep moisture in the soil and to keep the soil from being too alkaline for many of the plants, but as the plants filled in over the last ten years I have to use less and less of it.
I try to garden naturally. Occasionally I use an over the counter fertilizer due to our short growing season in NH. A few times over the past decade I've had to use an insecticide to irradiate a persistent pest that was taking over, but that is always a last resort, as insecticides can hurt the beneficial insect species in the garden. I work hard to create a safe, inviting space for all the flora and fauna in the garden. When I started there was nothing but grass, a few trees and a few bushes in the yard. Little by little I'm trying to rebuild the canopy and landscape. I have taken out two-thirds of the grass and turned that space into gardening space. The remaining lawn areas are now a grass/clover mix, which is much healthier for the soil. I'm proud to say that over two hundred species of plants thrive in the garden and we attract more critters and insects than I could possible name.