Roses forum: New home and new gardens!

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Name: Mike Stewart
Lower Hudson Valley, NY (Zone 6b)
Seed Starter Container Gardener Roses Bulbs I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Peonies
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Mike
Aug 16, 2014 10:10 PM CST
Hi everybody,

It has been a while since I've posted on this forum, but I've had a good reason. Last fall we put our home up for sale so that we could move exactly two blocks into an historic home built in 1927 that we have admired for the past 15 years. We made the move, and I've been just a bit busier than normal installing new gardens.

Thumb of 2014-09-18/Mike/1bb62b

When we moved last December, we were prepared to leave behind the gardens that had taken me 15 years to plan and cultivate. They consisted of hundreds of roses, perennials, ferns, vines, ornamental grasses, shrubs and trees. I knew each of them by name, habit, fragrance, and bloom schedule, so it was hard to think of leaving them behind. But I was also looking forward to designing and installing new gardens at our new home.

But as fortune would have it, prior to closing on the sale of our house, the buyers told us they planned to dig up all of the gardens and replace them with grass. WITH GRASS!!! To my astonishment (and mixed emotions) they encouraged us to dig up whatever plants we wanted and take them with us. So with no time to waste, I spent the month of November digging up about 200 of my favorite specimens, and putting them into plastic pots.

When December came, we had to hire an additional truck crew just to move the plants to their new home. Of course, it was too late in the year to re-plant them, so I overwintered them in the new house's enclosed patio. It served as an unheated greenhouse for the next five months, during the coldest winter we've had in 120 years, with temperatures regularly dropping below zero.

About two-thirds of the plants survived their "winter of discontent," so as spring arrived I took out my drafting tools and began to make scaled drawings of new garden designs for the back of the house. The front gardens were already nicely landscaped, but the three-tiered back yard was mostly a blank slate comprised of empty courtyards, fountains, alcoves, walkways, mature Yew hedges and statuary, but very little in the way of flowering perennials or shrubs.

The courtyard garden shown here was all but empty when we moved in, so it presented us with a completely blank slate.

Thumb of 2014-08-17/Mike/df1f05

Rather than replicate the informal cottage gardens we cultivated at our former home, we went in the opposite direction by envisioning a four-quadrant Renaissance garden with a crossed path running through it, centered by one of the giant urns left behind on the property.

To make this vision a reality, I began by drawing the outline for the quadrants with landscape paint, and deciding where to instal many of the roses, perennials, ferns, and shrubs we brought with us.

Thumb of 2014-08-17/Mike/a1501f

Then we had Belgian block borders and pea gravel paths installed, and had three of the vintage statues from the upper garden brought down and placed in front of the brick wall. And then I began moving plants out of their pots and into the soil.

Thumb of 2014-08-17/Mike/ac34da

These are three of the five vintage statues that came with the house. I call them the "Three Sisters".

Thumb of 2014-08-17/Mike/791008

There's another one that's taller than I am (and that's saying a lot).

Thumb of 2014-08-17/Mike/b8d888

It's a different look than the one we're accustomed to, but suits the space as well as the house. It's still a "young" garden that needs a few more seasons to grow up and fill in, but it's on its way!

Above the brick wall is a long, narrow course that runs the length of the property, and separates the lower courtyards from the upper gardens. Again, it was barren when we moved in, but it didn't stay that way for long. I planted many of the plants we brought with us, and placed flag stone steps in a curving pattern (rather than a straight course) to prevent any lost airplane pilots from mistaking it for a runway and landing in our backyard. Here are before-and-after pictures. The one on the left is me in April, after the "great thaw," playing with our husky. The one on the right was taken this afternoon.

Thumb of 2014-08-17/Mike/dd475b Thumb of 2014-08-17/Mike/90ea89

I'm excited about the new gardens, but I will freely admit that it has been grueling at times to do as much planting in one season that I would normally do over a period of years. But it has been very fulfilling to envision something new, and bring it into fruition with so many of the very plants I have nurtured over so many years.


[Last edited by Mike - Sep 17, 2014 10:47 PM (+)]
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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Aug 16, 2014 10:57 PM CST

Moderator

This is such exciting news! The house is beautiful and the garden design you've chosen really does suit the house perfectly.

I'm so glad the new owners warned you of their plans for the garden and allowed you to take whatever you wanted. Most people courteously leave their plants behind for the new owners and later learn that the new owners never had any interest in caring for them. It can be heartbreaking.

You've done an incredible amount of work in just a few months. Amazing!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Aug 17, 2014 6:58 AM CST
Wow! I am amazed by your vision and energy. You have created impressive and completely suitable surroundings to show off your new house. Beautiful! Congratulations!
Porkpal
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Aug 17, 2014 7:25 AM CST
Wowie! Impressive, indeed. I love plants of all kinds, think your gardens are delightful, and I will say my favorite characters in the garden are the Sisters. Beautifully appropriate caretakers of all they survey. Smiling
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Aug 17, 2014 3:04 PM CST
Mike .......

>>>I'm excited about the new gardens, but I will freely admit that it has been grueling at times to do as much planting in one season that I would normally do over a period of years. But it has been very fulfilling to envision something new, and bring it into fruition with so many of the very plants I have nurtured over so many years.

To have a house you have admired for 15 years and a garden that suits it must be pure bliss.

Congratulations !

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Toni
Denver Metro (Zone 5a)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
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Skiekitty
Aug 18, 2014 12:54 PM CST
Mike - Was wondering if you'd abandoned us.. your new gardens.. Drooling Drooling Drooling Drooling Drooling Drooling Drooling holy guacamole, you do the work of 20 people and with the grace of a ballet dancer with the eye of an artist.

I am truly amazed. Beautiful. Absolutely stunningly beautiful.

*jealous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*
Roses are one of my passions! Just opened, my Etsy shop (to fund my rose hobby)! http://www.etsy.com/shop/TweetsnTreats
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Aug 18, 2014 2:48 PM CST
Hilarious! Hilarious! yeah, me, too, toni. Big Grin
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Cindi
Wichita, Kansas (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Plant and/or Seed Trader Permaculture Roses Ponds Peonies
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CindiKS
Aug 18, 2014 8:24 PM CST
Mike, you have restored the soul of that beautiful house. I hope in the next few years you put the gardens on a tour so everyone can see how it is done right!
I tip my hat to you.
Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Cinta
Aug 19, 2014 10:27 AM CST
Mike I had to wipe my keyboard from drool. What a wonderful job you have done. Simply Marvelous. Your hard work and love is visible. Pat yourself on the back and take a bow. I tip my hat to you.
Name: Mike Stewart
Lower Hudson Valley, NY (Zone 6b)
Seed Starter Container Gardener Roses Bulbs I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Peonies
Clematis Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Dog Lover Cat Lover Birds Region: New York
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Mike
Aug 19, 2014 1:10 PM CST
Thanks everybody; I appreciate the encouragement! More recently my attention has turned to the upper garden (not pictured above) where I've installed 10 hybrid teas, two crape myrtles, and a Wisteria on a trellis. There's a lot more that can be done up there, but I think the rest will have to wait till next season. I'm pooped!
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Aug 19, 2014 1:24 PM CST
Hilarious! I bet you are. Big Grin
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Aug 19, 2014 4:24 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
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Calif_Sue
Aug 19, 2014 7:07 PM CST

Moderator

Awww, what fun, been there and done that with the digging and moving of pots! But I remembered that beautiful brick walkway you created with those vintage bricks you had collected, did you have to leave those behind? Were they planning on tearing that out too?

My son drove by our old house recently, he said everything was unkempt, overgrown and weedy, he said it depressed him.
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[Last edited by Calif_Sue - Nov 30, 2014 9:44 AM (+)]
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Name: Andi
Pocono Mountains, PA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap
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GardenQuilts
Aug 20, 2014 12:47 PM CST
I sympathize with the digging and moving of plants also. I moved twice in the past year with my plants in tow. You have gotten your new place planted much faster than I have. It looks lovely.

It must be depressing to see the plants that you left behind killed or neglected. At least the new buyers gave you notice. I can't imagine turning your lovely gardens to a boring grassy knoll, but to each his/her own.
Name: Mike Stewart
Lower Hudson Valley, NY (Zone 6b)
Seed Starter Container Gardener Roses Bulbs I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Peonies
Clematis Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Dog Lover Cat Lover Birds Region: New York
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Mike
Aug 20, 2014 2:01 PM CST
Andi, you have no idea. This past spring our former next door neighbors stopped by for dinner, and told us the new owner had used an axe (of all things!) to chop down the rhododendruns that used to border the descending steps in my back garden (shown here in a picture I took a few years ago). I couldn't help myself, and drove by our former home the next day to see how things looked. Sure enough, there were the rhodies, all chopped up and piled on the curb. I felt so incredibly bad - like I abandoned them, and was responsible for their fate. But who could have guessed he wanted to remove these, of all things? He has zero interest in plants of any kind, so I can't imagine he wants to put anything in their place.

Thumb of 2014-08-20/Mike/a94dce

This past winter we had occasion to visit our neighbors and saw that he had actually parked his giant pick-up truck ON TOP of a pair of boxwoods alongside the driveway. The driveway is only one car width wide, and apparently he wanted enough space to get his other car past it, to get it in and out of the garage. So he just decided to run over the plants. It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen. I thought back on when I actually planted those specimens, how I fed and watered them over the years, and took pains to prune and shape them.

Last November when he told us he was going to dig up the gardens, he said, and I quote word for word, "Me and flowers don't get along."

Now I see why!
[Last edited by Mike - Aug 22, 2014 9:25 PM (+)]
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Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Aug 20, 2014 2:12 PM CST
Brutal.
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Mike Stewart
Lower Hudson Valley, NY (Zone 6b)
Seed Starter Container Gardener Roses Bulbs I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Peonies
Clematis Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Dog Lover Cat Lover Birds Region: New York
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Mike
Aug 20, 2014 2:30 PM CST
Sue,

I don't know whether they are planning on tearing out the brick walkway (remember when it was featured in Better Homes & Gardens' DIY website, and the editor sent me a tiara?) I miss it (the walkway that is; I still have the tiara).


Thumb of 2014-08-20/Mike/f338e3
[Last edited by Mike - Aug 20, 2014 2:30 PM (+)]
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Aug 20, 2014 4:25 PM CST
How horrible! I would have bought the house just for the gardens! I hope he gets sunburned mowing all his boring grass - or maybe he won't take care of it either - in which case I wish him chiggers!
Porkpal
[Last edited by porkpal - Aug 20, 2014 4:26 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #684082 (18)
San Diego (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Roses Region: California
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Mark619
Aug 20, 2014 7:47 PM CST
Jealous!!
Name: Mike Stewart
Lower Hudson Valley, NY (Zone 6b)
Seed Starter Container Gardener Roses Bulbs I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Peonies
Clematis Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Dog Lover Cat Lover Birds Region: New York
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Mike
Aug 20, 2014 10:09 PM CST
Tonight John and I were discussing which roses we lost to the cold this past winter while they were in their plastic pots. All told, I lost about 50 of them. He asked me which ones I'd like to replace, and of course I said "all of them". So he asked me what the top 20 would be, and this was my list. (The letters in parentheses refer to nurseries where I can get them online, if I weren't able to find them locally. P = Palantine; RU = Roses Unlimited; RVR = Rogue Valley Roses.)

1. Amber Queen (P)
2. Betty Boop (RU)
3. Blueberry Hill (RU)
4. Caramel Antike (RU)
5. Day Breaker (P)
6. Ebb Tide (P)
7. Gemini (P)
8. Nicole (P)
9. Paloma Blanca (RU)
10. Oranges ‘n Lemons (alternate: Rainbow Niagara – P)
11. Our Lady of Guadalupe
12. Outta the Blue (RU)
13. Prairie Harvest (RU)
14. Purple Tiger
15. Royal Wedding
16. Ruffled Cloud
17. Singin’ in the Rain (RVR)
18. The Prince (RU)
19. Traviata (P)
20. Tuscan Sunset

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