We have been at our new site in Fairfax for over a year but all of our building renovations have been focused inside (except for one wicked expensive roof repair and a subsequent wicked cool solar array.) Our building has a wonderful history in that it manufactured scrabble tiles and other game pieces for years but truth be told, it is not a looker. In fact, it is a fading yellow, metal box in the middle of a featureless field.
We had always planned on sprucing up the outside or, at least the entrance but then Covid 19 hit and priorities changed. Everyone who could stay home to work did, leaving just a skeleton group to bottle and ship. All employees were busy keeping things afloat throughout March and April and it looked like the landscaping plan was going to have to wait. Plus, any funds for extraneous projects were sucked into the pandemic maelstrom.
But then the weather warmed in May and the lack of anything outside but grass was glaring. There was renewed momentum to do something – anything to brighten the site up. Our recipe developer, Allison and I decided to see what could be done with our limited time and even more limited budget.
One thing we have at Runamok is barrels which, of course, we use for barrel-aging our syrup. Sometimes when we receive them from distillers, they are too dry and can’t be used because they won’t impart any flavor. We can usually find a home for them but this year one of our enterprising employees, Nash, decided to cut a few in half for planters. Upon seeing them, we realized this was the perfect thing for our entrance because we could place, fill and plant them without taking too much time or money.
Allison located some soil from a local farm and it was dumped in one enormous pile in the driveway. I had been growing flower seedlings for my own house and had quite a few left over to contribute. They were scrawny but we planned to fill in with more robust plants from local nurseries. When we went to local greenhouses, however, they were almost empty because of this year’s enthusiasm for home gardening. What we ended up with were some leggy hanging baskets that we pulled apart for individual plants.
We shoveled soil by hand into twelve 25 gallon half barrels and planted them with our mix of oversized and undersized plants. The result is not exactly the entrance to Disneyland. Allison and I had a good chuckle over the variation in sizes and complete randomness in the varieties and colors. But they will grow and fill in the space. And even though many people are still working from home, we are so grateful for the people who have been coming into the plant that I couldn’t be more glad to brighten up at least one corner of the site.
A garden is not only a source of beauty but a bit of hope for the future. We recognize how difficult things are now, but we are optimists and feel that with some effort, things are going to be okay. The planters are not ideally what we wanted but like so many other things at this moment in time, we are doing the best we can with what we have. I’ve included a picture of Allison and I on the day we planted them so we have a record of the ‘before’. The plants in all their mixed up loveliness will fill in and provide at least a moment of enjoyment in the coming and going from our front door. In a few weeks when everything starts to flower they are going to look spectacular.
Update: Here’s an August photo of our barrels brimming with life: