Gardening on a hill requires planning, fortitude – and good golf cleats

HILLSBURGH – I joined the Hillsburgh Horticultural Club a few years after my husband and I moved to Hillsburgh because I wanted to meet people and enhance my love of gardening.

Over the years, I have become friends with many members and learned a lot about gardening. Joining the horticultural club is a great way to share your experience and learn from others that have the same passion for gardening.

After the house was built, we realized how much work we had on our hands! A slight grade in our backyard turned out to be a menacing hill.

My husband mowed the lawn in the back with a push lawnmower and golf shoes – cleats are a must on a hill. However, we couldn’t keep up with the weeds.

As lovers of nature, we don’t use pesticides and as a result, we spent many evenings and weekends digging them out by hand. It was futile. Commuting into Toronto every day and working full time didn’t allow him a lot of time in the garden so I planned it out, so to speak.

We all know planning and gardening don’t always go hand in hand. I like to call my garden a work in progress – just like life.

We didn’t want to spend a fortune landscaping, consequently, we did it all ourselves. Donated plants started this garden, and each plant has a story to tell. End of season plant sales are a great way to get plant material at a low cost. Our hill started with a row of four junipers.

Did I mention the hill gets lots of wind and sun? If the sun doesn’t cook a plant, the wind will certainly finish it off. I remember when the wind ripped out one of the junipers. It was a clear message that the gentle breezes of Hillsburgh are not so gentle after all and that plant-staking is much needed in some spots.

Some recommendations:

– tackle any gardening job in pieces. Eventually, it comes all together;

– stick to what grows in your zone;

– dandelions are impossible to get rid of, so please, let the bees have their fun and grow to love the colour yellow.

In addition to the hill, the garden wraps around the house with a large bed in the front. We have four raised beds for veggie gardening on one side of the house. It’s nice to eat home-grown vegetables because you know what goes into it. It is very rewarding at harvest time.

We water with the use of rain barrels. I’m convinced rainwater is the best.

Some essentials for the avid gardener are a large hat, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants to keep you protected from the sun. And if you have a hill, golf shoes are a must!

The biggest lesson is to have patience and don’t fight Mother Nature.

Submitted by Wendy Iturri, who has lived in Hillsburgh for 12 years. She’s gardened since she was 13 and now acknowledges that she’s “addicted.”

Wendy Iturri