Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Way This All Started, Part 3

 Ok, back to the Tales of the Front Yard:
After we removed the first spruce, we had more room for our hosta collection, which by 2005 had grown to more than 500 individual cultivars.  So, for a year or two, we left the front garden alone while we worked on the Quarry Garden in the backyard.

In late 2005 we were asked to open our garden for a large local garden walk, which is a big deal in these parts.  There's nothing like knowing your garden will be scrutinized by many horticultural aficionados to set off anxiety and make you really rethink your landscaping choices, especially when they have to buy a ticket and your garden will be one of six or seven on the tour.  (No, it's not a competition and all the money went to the local botanical garden, so it's for a good cause, but you don't want to have people make all the effort to drive over 20 miles to see a garden of nothing.)  We have had lots of visitors over the years to the 'Flintstone's yard' but no one ever had to pay to see it before.  We sure didn't want folks to be disappointed.
Once again, we did a stroll through the gardens and came to the realization that the second spruce really should come down, too.  This was not a hasty thought by any means, and the lack of shade provided by the long-gone elm and spruce trees meant the removal of around 200 mature hostas to another bed.

Early April 2006 finds 20 yr. old Joel up in a tree with the Stihl chainsaw and me on the ground 'helping'.  In reality, there's not a lot the person can do on the ground other than duck from falling limbs and hold the ladder for the poor guy up in the tree and nag in a motherly, concerned voice, "Now, Joel, you be careful!" which always helps, right?  (However, my vast talents are put to good use when it's time to pick up the brush.)

As you can see, once again, we began sawing this tree down late in the day, but we weren't able to finish it that night because a strong southwesterly wind came up and we felt that even with a cable hooked to the tractor there might still be a risk of hitting the house.  So the tree stood like this overnight.

The next day dawned sunny and much less breezy, so it was time.   I was in my spot on the 574 way out on the road with the cable.  We took a deep breath and Carl fired up the chain saw.

 The most nerve-wracking part of sawing down trees is the final cut.  I don't breathe too well until the tree is on the ground, and everyone is safe and sound.

Here goes:

After every tree we saw down, there's a moment of panic; did we do the right thing?  The house is certainly much more exposed NOW....oh, what have we done??  No matter how much you think you are prepared for how it will look when a large tree is removed, reality is something else again.  But, you can't put them back up- how's that old saying go?  Measure twice, cut once?  Good idea.

We removed all of the hostas from the bed in front of the house, which took a good two weeks.   There had been a low stone wall around the spruce trees which we put on pallets and hauled out back.  Then we decided to try to add some height to our flat landscape by hauling in a few loads of dirt.  We had a few stones leftover from the quarry garden which we brought in with the tractor, but we were out of the really big ones I wanted at this time.
A few days later and this is the way it looked:
The work progressed on, but we had a very wet spring that year, and it was slow going.  Our youngest son, David, has always had an interest in sedums and rock garden plants.  Since the front of the house was in full sun now, he took me up on the offer to install a tufa stone sedum/succulent bed right in front of the house.  In the following pictures David is seen busily planting.

By June 2006, the garden had started to fill in a little bit:

And by July (and the garden walk) it was looking pretty good:
Here is the view from the road, July 2006:

The garden walk went well that year, around 700 people toured the garden,  but it was SO hot, we actually were over 100 degrees and had one of the driest summers we could remember in years. 

The front garden remained the same as it is now until the fall of 2009, when we removed the third spruce to put in the geothermal furnace. 

I am currently working on the next post, which will be about the back yard and the Quarry construction.  We will revisit the Pachyberm and geothermal construction later on.  I promise. 

I'm enjoying this stroll down memory lane as all I've been doing in the garden the last few days is rip things out and prune things back; you know, the usual fall routine.  I keep thinking while I'm working of what I could possibly write that would interest anyone, and when I see the old pictures, I can't help but smile.  I hope you enjoy them, too.



Anonymous said...

All the tree chopping, I was hoping to see the birch in the last image. It really stood out after you cleared out the big spruce. The garden is really lovely after so many years of hard work, sweat and I am sure, some tears.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen, I can't believe the amount of work you guys have done. It is mind boggling.


Shirley said...

Karen, it is easy to second guess the removal of such a large tree but you made a great choice. This bed looks wonderful! I look forward to photos of the quarry garden as it is an area of your garden that I really enjoy seeing on your blog.

Missy said...

We all know gardens like yours don't just happen by chance but to actually see the amount of work that has gone into it is simply amazing.

Jester said...

Thanks so much for thinking about me! You are so sweet AND SO talented! I just went through "part 3" here & now I'm going out to putter in my yard & do .something.....I've been itching to get some rocks up from down by my stream & maybe make some rock "totems" and just looking at your garden has given me lots of inspiration!!!Its my last day off before getting back in "school gear" ( just got done with midterms & went North NY to visit family, my "other home") I refuse to do any school work till Wens so even though its only about 40 degrees out I'm going to go play in the dirt. Tonight I can't wait to see the rest of your garden as it happened. I think its made a wonderful post idea & I'm glad you have lots of pictures!!! You are definately a girl after my own heart!We have property upstate NY, where I just came home from yesterday, & there are the coolest white rocks up there. I bring some home very trip, now I have my mother doing it to. Oh yeah...& no thanks to you now we hit up antique stores....and abandoned buildings..hahhaha.. we found a HUGE abandoned barn complex & sifterd through to see if we could find anything cool to bring home...its making my poor husband crazy! Thanks for all the awesome ideas!!!!

Rosemary said...

Hi I am more than impressed with the hard work you have done but the results are so worth it. What a journey you have had I too was holding my breath seeing that tree come down..... I am sure the 700 who visited your home were delighted with what they found.

Karen said...

Thank you so very much, everyone...I have been working on trying to make a post that ties up all the loose ends at once, but to tell you the truth, this is a monumental task. Trying to find the pictures and put them in chronological order AND not bore people to tears is my biggest worry. I am working on it though, and it's been an experience. Even I forgot about some of the goofy stuff we built that no longer exists.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has commented. I am so humbled by your interest.

Sall's Country Life said...

Hey Karen,
I'm sitting here this afternoon reading the whole saga at once and am floored by all the planning, the work, the progression, and the beauty of it all. I don't know what you do for a living, but I think you should be doing a landscape t.v. show or something. The story is captivating, and the pictures great (how on earth did you manage to have time to take pictures too yet?) I'm enjoying it all! Now on to part 4.