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.
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.
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.
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.
These are three of the five vintage statues that came with the house. I call them the "Three Sisters".
There's another one that's taller than I am (and that's saying a lot).
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.
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.