Wednesday, April 27, 2005

First Things

This blog will primarily cover gardening, particularly the gardening I’m doing on my 1.3 acre partially wooded property in Natick, Massachusetts (zone 6A). The property’s most unusual feature: it includes a below-ground aqueduct which used to feed water to Boston. While the aqueduct, which dates to the 1870s, has been superseded by more than one larger replacement, the MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority) maintains the pipe and keeps the path clear. Basically, it’s a wide, almost perfectly flat trail through the woods. As ground levels vary, it is bordered by upward or downward slopes, looking much like an abandoned railroad easement.

While I own a stretch of the aqueduct, I have to allow the MWRA access, and I don’t object to others’ access (despite the big “No Trespassing” sign posted by the MWRA along the street). I can’t plant on the flat part of the path, or put trees or shrubs along the slopes. The MWRA mows the flat part each year in late summer or autumn, and uses slope mowers often enough to prevent trees from sinking roots into the below-ground masonry work.

Because there is a daily stream of joggers, cross-country skiers, dog-walkers and romancers passing along the aqueduct path, I consider it, more than the street, to mark the “front” of my property, and atop the slope edging down to the aqueduct is where I have put my largest and most labor-intensive planting, a double-dug 42’ by 8’ bed of perennials (with lesser numbers of annuals, bulbs and roses). This was just planted in the spring and summer of 2004 (a year after we bought the property), but I think it worked out pretty well for a first-year performance (photo from upstairs in my house).

Above the aqueduct I have a second path, basically an allée through the trees. So far most of my work on this area has been destructive (thinning trees and brush, pulling poison ivy, brambles and strangling vines).

Of course I also have lawns in front and back of my house, although the front lawn is in significant part a leaching field, meaning I can only plant the shallowest-rooted plants upon it and should minimize walking on and watering of the area. It’s now a grass lawn, and I have yet to do something about screening the prominent white vent-pipe.

I may also cover politics, particularly local politics as it relates to my property, adjacent properties and the aqueduct easement.

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