Updating Our Home Garden From Drab to Fab

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Alright everyone, as I’ve explained in a previous post, this global pandemic has really disrupted life for all of us as we know it. Normally during summer, we are heading out on trip after trip seeking all the adventure our hearts can handle in new cities around the world. But our new reality is a bit different and travel is down to record lows. At the very beginning of all of this, I contracted COVID19 and it was a terrible experience. I was extremely sick for about a week and a half. Little did I know that was the beginning of a major lull in travel activities. Now I am working on updating our garden nonstop…but more on that in a bit.

Life During COVID19
J Harvey Recovering from COVID19
At home sick with COVID19

Fast-forward 7 months and we are still in the thick of this pandemic. Around the world, infection rates have dropped off which is a good thing but none of us are sure whether or not these numbers will increase should things go back to the way they once were. There is no vaccine and no real treatment as of this posting so it is foolish to think things will go back to “normal.” The entire world basically shut down and it could happen again. COVID19 is still very much a reality and travel isn’t going to go back to the way it once was anytime soon. This is especially true for those of us living in the United States.

Consequently, I am doing far, far less travel these days and any trips I take will likely be within the United States and hyper focused on the region where I live. I still have plenty to write about when it comes to my past adventures and lots of information to put out for you all. However, life has not stopped. In fact, life has improved for me to some degree. I am pretty sad about the lack of travel and other aspects of my life going into decline. Nevertheless, being forced to stay home has benefited me in that it made me recognize how awesome my home is and how much I can do to make it better. One of the things we’ve focused on is taking our garden space and making it this amazing place we can enjoy.

Let’s dive right into that!

Why Are We Updating Our Garden?
J Harvey at the Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park
Enjoying the Cholla Cacti during our last trip.

In an effort to keep myself relevant and continue to write (which I love), I am focusing more on other aspects of our life outside of travel. If you’ve followed me on Instagram then you know I have a slight houseplant obsession. My house has plants in every corner I can fit them tastefully and we have a huge garden surrounding our home. In fact, my first masters degree is focused on agricultural development. I spent all of my first graduate program working at the NC State Agroecology Education Farm as part of my education.  It was a very fulfilling job and I’d probably still work there if the state would give the farm a bigger budget but that’s another story. Later I served as a board member for an organization called Third Millennium Alliance that focuses on preserving the last remnants of the Pacific Equatorial cloud forests in a sustainable way while also providing opportunities to the people living in the forests.

J Harvey in Palm Springs
Our last trip was to California.

All of this was before I started the travel blog to increase LGBT presence in the travel industry where, frankly, our community’s presence is lacking even though we spend more money on travel than any other segment of society. In summary, I love plants and my garden is very important to me even though I’ve neglected it for about 5 years. When you’re busy traveling the world non-stop, you don’t have as much time or energy to focus on your home base and that started to become a problem for me. I’d begun to feel weary, not of travel, but of not belonging to a community and feeling detached from my home. Then suddenly COVID19 hit in March 2020 and I was forced to stay home. It’s now nearly the end of August as I type this and Americans are still not really welcomed in most parts of the world because the virus is running rampant here. In fact, I just learned there have been 2008 new cases in my state of North Carolina today alone.

But this forced pause in travel adventures has given me and Alfred plenty of time to focus on making our home the kind of place we’d like to spend time at. It all started with the garden.

The Garden…
J Harvey reading in his living room
Our Living Room

When we purchased our home about 8 years ago, it was a process. The general gist of searching for the home that fit us both involved walking into lots of different houses, finding things we hated about them, and moving on to the next. It was tiresome and tedious. I 100% don’t recommend it to anyone. But eventually, we found the lovely place we now call home and it was the only house we both loved. Instant win.

J Harvey's Old Garden
The old overgrown garden

A number of factors were in play when I decided I loved our house including its floor to ceiling windows, the fact it is split-level, and the wide open space in our living area. But the most important and enticing factor of all, for me, was the massive space on the property already set-up as a garden. Granted, the garden the previous owner organized was far, far less then adequate but I thought the space had lots of potential. In my mind, we had every intention of updating our garden at some point. but it never really came to fruition. We moved in and built some make-shift beds in the garden and kind of let it go for a number of years. When I began to travel, the garden took a major hit of neglect, our beds deteriorated, weeds took over, and it became one giant mess.

Updating the Garden: The Remodel
J Harvey's Old Garden
The old garden

The best thing that’s come of this global pandemic is our garden remodel. It started simply enough. Picture it, 2020: Alfred and I decided we needed to rebuild our garden beds because they were practically a pile of sawdust. We go out and buy the wood we would need and bring it home. Alfred passed me the wood over our fence and I have to walk down a steep hill to take the wood where it is needed. I slip. I fall down the hill. The lumber lands on my foot and we spend the better part of an evening at the emergency orthopedic surgeons office.

This little incident spurs on the designing and building of a set of stairs on the hillside and the installation of a new garden gate. Once the garden stairs are completed, we look around and realize the rudimentary beds we were going to build will look pretty shoddy in comparison to the new stairs so we redesign them. The garden updating evolves into a bigger beast when we decide we’d like to sit around and drink in the fall…so we build a large “drinking shack” which is essentially a covered porch. More garden beds are built afterward and some garden beds are rebuilt with better lumber. Everything is painted the same color so it all matches and then we decide to lay stones in many of the pathways and install weed control.

Updating our garden from drab to fab
The New Garden

Now we are down to the final few projects that include digging a large goldfish pond complete with waterfall and cascades, installing two greenhouses, and amending all pathways in the garden. We hope to have this all completed by October 2020. Check out the pics below to get a good idea of what we started with for each aspect of the garden and where we ended up so far. The transformation is pretty incredible and we feel pretty proud of it all. It’s taken loads of work.

Updating the Garden: More to Come
Updating our Garden
Alfred standing proudly with his handy work.

Needless to say, this pandemic didn’t exactly slow us down. We just found something else to focus our energies on and it’s been pretty awesome building and reorganizing our garden to better suit our needs. Before, the garden felt like this space to the side of our house we avoided. We’d look at it every so often and imagine what we might do with the space but it always seemed so daunting. This pandemic, which is still ongoing as of this writing, forced us to stay at home and reevaluate our priorities. I feel very lucky we prioritized making our home the kind of place where we actually want to spend time. We’ve put a lot of work into our little piece of this earth and are trying to be the best stewards possible.

In the future, you should expect to see more posts and videos about our projects and efforts around our home and other aspects of our life. I’ll definitely create some content focused on each aspect of the garden to explain what we did and how you can do the same or similar projects in your own spaces. So stay tuned as we open up more of our life to you, our audience.

Do you love to do DYI projects at your own home?

J Harvey

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Updating our home garden from drab to fab

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J. Harvey

J Harvey is a travel writer based in North Carolina. With two masters degrees, he decided to forget working a normal 9-5 job and instead create a travel blog focusing on travel for a more inclusive community. He hopes to increase LGBT representation within the travel industry while inspiring others to travel in whatever capacity.

J. Harvey has 185 posts and counting. See all posts by J. Harvey

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