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Three months since the last post… which, up until today I thought would be my final post. I’m not sure how many other people are actually enjoying the effort and time it takes to document our renovation and remodeling endeavor. The feedback has always been positive, but it’s also been infrequent. Truth!

As late winter has a way of dragging on here, January and February can be  very depressing. I found myself succumbing to depression and moodiness with the dark days and lack of progress on our project.  Being reminded through a blog post how little had been accomplished for such a long time was something I thought to avoid.

We aren’t out of the woods in terms of snow-less days since even this past weekend we had another round of hail-snow-rain that covered everything in white – if only overnight.  Temps too have been climbing higher, but then occasionally dip below 0c/32f. Pretty topsy-turvy but that’s Finnish weather for ya!

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Crazy Finnish weather aside, Pekka and I commenced the spring gardening season by pruning all of our apples trees.  This is quite an under-taking since we’re still reducing the trees from their ‘never pruned’ status to a height we can more easily reach.  In an effort to get the trees into the proper range and size, our pruning efforts netted another pretty large pile of trunk and branches.  We think next year’s pruning will get them into the desired height. Yeah!  Our chipper was out of commission due to a worn out belt so the piles have sat in place since we pruned.  😦

Needless to say, we have a knack for creating stick piles, and the side yard is a prime example. We finally decided to just burn one pile when the chipper wasn’t working just to make our lives easier. One pile gone, 10 new ones took its place. Plus there are all the limbs of larger pieces that Pekka will someday have to find the time to cut up for fire wood. There are never enough hours in the day or days in the week! It could be years before that side yard is cleared! I sure hope not.

Aside from the apples trees, I made sure everything else got a pruning too that needed it. Snowberries along the roadside, berry bushes in the side yard, rose bushes, and all the new trees we’ve added over the last two years got a slight trim.  I had all the last years plant stock to clear from all the beds. I usually cut all that in the autumn but after reading about how it’s important for birds and wildlife to leave the seed heads etc., I didn’t cut anything back. I can tell you it’s a lot messier to do it in the spring when the ground is wet and the stems and leaves are decaying and mushy. I will clear beds in the autumn from now on, as I used to do.

Pekka and I also began tackling the old chain-link fence on the remaining two sides of the property. The roadside fence removal allowed us to FINALLY take down the massive clumps of rowan and other weed trees that had grown up along the fence line. Much of their growth had intertwined with the chain link at some point over the years. Getting that mess cut out and removed was a major step in beautification!  It also adds to the wood pile.  😦

The final fence boundary runs along the shady side where our property edge abuts the Lohja city council plot (unmanaged hodgepodge) – after taking down the chain link we realized just how difficult putting the new fence in was going to be. Very hard work. Those two remaining sides are still open, we have the wire and posts – just not enough time to stop what we’re presently doing in order to get the fence in. sigh…

The reason we can’t do the fence is because we’re currently in Phase I of our landscaping project.

We are under-taking a completely new and major landscaping endeavor that dwarfs everything I’ve done outside to date. We are in-process of removing sod from nearly 100 meters (328 ft) along our property borders in the back yard to create new planting beds for trees and shrubbery.  The depth (width) of the beds is 10 meters (32 ft) in some places.  Our efforts have been outstandingly rewarding in that we have done all this in 4 days!

There is an area left to do comprising about 30 meters (98 ft) along the border of the farmer’s field which then winds around and ends near the newly planted walnut tree (the stick left of center in the photo) of last year.  The photo below was taken in February. Last week we started on this section by removing enough sod to get some of the David Austin Roses I ordered from the UK in the ground.

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The 18 roses have been divided in several planting groups of 3s and 5s in the new landscape but one too near the back deck.  I’ve never planted bare root roses before, but it was easy enough and I’m glad to have them in soil.  Luckily for me I encountered a gal in my local plant group on FB who has an endless supply of horse manure.  🙂  After adding manure to the compost and new soil beds those roses should be very happy!

Phase I is almost complete so that means Phase II is just around the corner! :/

Phase II consists of hauling all the newly purchased soil to the landscape beds – joy of joys!! I think the term, ‘back-breaking’ sums it up pretty well.  The delivery of two massive loads (20 cubic meters /26 yards) of soil which are now sitting in the driveway haven’t even been dented by 30 or so wheel barrows worth so far which was used to get the roses in the ground.  Did I mention that it’s been raining on and off for the last 5 days? Between the hail and snowflakes there was rain.  I am sure to be in great shape by the end of this project. On Sunday my boots were so caked with mud I felt I was wearing gravity boots!

An unplanned stop at the Taimiteutari tree nursery on Saturday  to check our pending tree order resulted in the addition of 6 new conifers!  Our delivery of plant stock is Thursday and consists of +65 various trees, bushes and grasses as well as 100 hydrangea.  An order of perennials, corms and tubers (+70 varieties) already arrived from my secret Poland mail order source.  And since I’m a nut for peonies I ordered 5 more from an outfit in Holland called Peony Shop that will arrive for planting in the autumn.

I’m excited to get the delivery, but it’s going to be a little while until we can get everything in the ground on account of all that dirt hauling still to do. We’ve got plenty of unique boulders and stones to plop into place within the beds and will be creating some drama with minor elevation changes throughout the course of the beds.  The plan is to create dimensional depth and interest by ‘layering’ the placement of plant stock. There is NO straight row of anything in this garden!  Too many times I see people just planting a solid row of Thuja = green wall. Fine if that’s what you’re after… but I would like something with a bit more interest.  🙂

I’ve tried for months to get my ideas out on paper, even my best attempts at creating a ‘PLAN’ haven’t been well understood by Pekka who just looks at it and says he will get it once it sees the plants in place. HAHAHA! 😀   Yes, proof is in the pudding!  I’ve taken all of the specimen planting conditions into consideration (sun/shade), as well as their mature sizes.  Groupings and planting for interest, color and manageability were next. There are enough variations to avoid being boring, but enough to remain somewhat consistent and repetitious.   I guess the proof is in the pudding or so they say!  I’d like to give a shout out to Judy at New England Garden and Thread for her shared gardening enthusiasm and guidance when I was tossing ideas around and needed someone to talk to about garden plans. Thank you Judy!

In case you were wondering what sort of items are included in the landscaping project,  a brief summary below (not inclusive of everything) :

  • Picea Glauca ‘Conica’
  • Picea Pungens Glauca
  • Thuja Occidentalis ‘Smaragd’
  • Magnolia ‘Kobus’
  • Aronia ‘Viking’
  • Berberis Thungergii ‘Tiny Gold’, ‘Rosy Rocket’, ‘Orange Rocket’, ‘Admiration’
  • Prunus Padus ‘Colorata’
  • Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’
  • Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

I think that catches everyone up on what’s happening outside.  Now to the gory bits!

Since the indoor projects had hit a small skid of inactivity, I was really jazzed when things started to pick up.  I peeled off all the old linoleum downstairs in the living room, kitchen and dining room in January. We caulked the crown moulding and window trim in both the living and dining rooms and laid all the new flooring throughout in February (which looks great BTW!) And yes,  I managed to finally refurbish the wood stove (pönttöuuni) in the living room before the new floor went down! You can see in a pic below just how hideous that old round stove looked.

It was about this time in mid-March that we also started a decorative framing project to build pillars at the openings of these rooms.  In the photo above you can see a small white stripe running vertically at the door way going into the dining room.  Now there’s a pretty neat looking pillar there instead – and some others are framed in on all the other sides too. Pekka and I finally came to agreement on this idea, found a style we both liked and he started putting them together in March.  The 25th of March he was cutting a small piece on his table saw when things took a turn for the worse. In a split second something went horribly wrong. A tiny sliver of wood ricocheted from the circular blade catching his left index finger, nearly slicing his finger-tip clean off!

A rush of blood and it was clearly evident he needed emergency service immediately. Bundling his hand in a kitchen towel we bolted for the hospital across town on a holiday Friday to discover a packed emergency room of other weekend warriors.    Pekka got some preferential medical attention as he was actually bleeding. Upon further diagnostics and x-rays it was determined that he’d fractured the finger-tip into shreds, sliced open the finger requiring sutures – all that remained was a determination on whether to AMPUTATE the fractured finger-tip! A surgeon was called in but Pekka decided to keep the finger-tip and she instead sutured him up and splinted his finger.  We won’t know if those bone fragments will eventually need to be excised from his finger for a few more months. Presently his finger is looking pretty rough. The surgeon was forced to remove all the pieces of his severed fingernail, so he’s got that to look forward to also.   As you can imagine, he was in a lot of pain and anguish.  Luckily he’d not suffered anything worse. I was frazzled and it wasn’t even my finger that nearly came off!

One month + 1 day can make a big difference. Pekka’s finger is no longer splinted, the sutures were removed weeks ago, and where his fingernail should be is instead a black dried-bloody glob. Cold sensitive and very painful I’m thankful that he’s still in one piece!  As for the other weekend warriors seeking medical attention that day, a highlight was the guy who somehow managed to get gasoline all over his arm and then set himself on fire while trying to burn a rubbish pile… yikes!

Hopefully our little rintamiestalo remodeling project still holds your interest. Please let me know if you would like any further details about gardening in Finland. I’m learning quite a lot as I go, mostly patience.

❤ from Vanha Talo Suomi!