Blog Demo Design by Britt Douglas. Powered by Blogger.

One Room Challenge: Tragedy In The Garden

by - Thursday, May 27, 2021

You might think I'm being melodramatic with that title but trust me, there is drama. But before I get to the unexpected events that happened in the last 24 hours, let me tell you about the good stuff. Catch up on Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3 of the One Room Challenge to see our progress so far.

If you're new to Rambling Renovators, welcome! My name is Jennifer. I help people create functional and beautiful homes, I help brands create digital content strategies, and I've been writing this blog since 2007. I live with my husband and daughter in Toronto, Canada in a centre-plan, mid century colonial style house that we've infused with the fresh traditional style we love. We DIY all our renovations and have a fondness for architectural details, built-ins, and classic decor.

cutting garden plants

The week started off well. With the garden bed for the backyard cutting garden ready to go, it was time for me to get my plants and seeds into the ground.

I did realize I made a mistake and purchased the wrong variety of sweet peas. The four seedlings on the bottom left are not the dwarf variety I wanted. Oops. I'll have to stake these climbers and see how tall they get. 

cutting garden back yard

Succession Planting

I reworked my cutting garden plan a bit and used the right side of the plot for larger plants and seedlings. On the left side, I've planted zinnia and poppies, putting the seeds straight into the ground. I've left the bottom left corner of the plot open for additional zinnia and poppy seeds that I'll plant in about three weeks. 

Succession planning, or having multiple timed plantings, will allow me to have different flowers blooming throughout the coming weeks. I'm not sure if I'll be successful with even my first batch, but it'll be fun to try! 

Front Garden Plants

front garden plants stonecrop hydrangea coneflower euonymus standard azalea

Wonderful things were happening in the front garden too.

The plants we ordered from Sheridan Nurseries arrived. As I showed in our garden plan, we would be planting these varieties:
  • Annabelle Smooth hydrangea beneath the front window
  • Euonymus Fortunei standard (they didn't have the Emerald Gaiety variety we specified)
  • Autumn Joy stonecrop
  • Purple Coneflower
They didn't have the Orchid Frost Dead Nettle we had planned to put between the hostas so for this year, I've decided to plant some annuals (begonias) in between, just to give that area some texture and colour.

front garden euonymus standard

Everything was looking great! I love how this little vignette turned out, with the rock, euonymus tree, and coneflower. We tried putting a spotlight beneath this tree at night and it looks spectacular. Figuring out the lighting scheme was next on our list.

front garden

The Unexpected Accident

And here's the part where our story takes a sudden and unexpected turn.

There is a large tree on our front lawn that is a city-owned tree. Here in Toronto, the city owns and is responsible for maintaining trees that grow a certain distance from the street curb.

We were quite excited when the city crew arrived early on Tuesday morning to trim the tree. They asked us if there were any branches we wanted removed. We indicated a few that were hanging over the street and over our driveway, but if they could be mindful of the grass because we had just seeded and watered it.

The crewman went up in the cherry picker and was cutting down the branch when all of a sudden, the machine struck a leak and hydraulic fluid started spraying out from the machine. As the crewman swung the basket he was standing in away from our house and back to the ground, it cast a wide swath of fluid across our lawn, driveway, and out to the sidewalk.

front garden

As you can expected, a hydraulic fluid spill will have sad consequences. Here I've indicated the path of destruction. Hydraulic fluid landed on our porch, walkway, hostas, boxwoods, newly seeded grass, driveway and lawn.

The crew worked to contain the spill, putting an absorbent material on all the hard surfaces, but the plants and lawn were left alone.

hydraulic fluid spill on plants

A supervisor came, handed us a pamphlet on making a claim, and took her own photos of the scene. She said to expect our walkway and driveway to be stained and our lawn and plants will likely die.

They put a sand-like material on the surfaces to soak up the stain, but I don't think it will have much effect. Things are already looking terrible.

front garden hydraulic fluid spill

And so, instead of ending week 4 of this 8 week One Room Challenge on a high note, we are feeling a little bit defeated. Thank goodness our new plants were left untouched. 

But the walkway we relaid ourselves last summer in the blazing August sun and were so proud of? It will need to be torn out and replaced.

The granite coating we applied to the porch in the fall? My awesome outdoor rug? Likely ruined too.

The side lawn that Sean had been tending and finally got to grow green and healthy? It's already looking scorched just a few hours after the incident.

The only silver lining is that we will likely get a new driveway. That is, months from now, or next year, after we deal with all the red tape of making a claim to the city. Goodness knows how long it will take to get them to coordinate a demolition crew, an asphalt crew, a hardscape crew, and a landscape crew. It's never just one team with the city.

Come back next week to see what is still alive and what has died and withered away! The ORC is always full of surprises!

You May Also Like


Thank you for visiting! We love hearing from our readers!