Thursday, January 21, 2021

Remodeling Our Hut Part 37: Restoring the Front Garden

 This post is a throwback to May 2020.  We were still working on the remodel, but Spring had sprung and I was getting tired of looking at the disaster the front yard had been made into during the construction process. 

Carl and I decided to drop the inside remodel work in late May and turn our attention to the garden and renovating the landscaping. 

 When the new front porch cement was poured in 2019, there was enough cement left in the truck for us to hastily throw together some 2 x 4's and make forms for slabs.  We'd stored the concrete slabs on a pile back by the windmill until we had a use for them and here was the perfect opportunity.

 The ground was very hard due to gravel and clay being dug up during the excavation, so we replaced the less desirable soil with our compost in the areas I wanted to eventually garden in again.  The hard-packed clay was acceptable as a base for the steps, but the rest was all shoveled out by hand.

 May 24, 2020 and Carl has all of the sidewalk slabs in place. We weren't sure where we were going with this garden remodel, but one thing for certain was our ongoing need to downsize the garden as much as possible. 

We decided to bring back some of our big limestone which we had removed last July to make room for the mudroom addition.  In the picture below, the old wrecker was being useful again.  We really do not know what we'd do without the antique, it's definitely paid for itself time and time again. 

We needed to take a break to celebrate Audrey's fourth birthday, though!


Four years old already, where did that time go?  Audrey took time for a birthday cupcake and then decided to come and help Grandpa and Grandma with the landscaping.

 The apparatus on Audrey's head is a duplicate of the one I wear on my head, it's a bug net, and it works phenomenally to keep the tiny biting black flies, or noseeum's from attacking.  Audrey and I may look silly when we're wearing our headgear, but we're safe from the nasties burrowing into our hair and leaving painful welts that itch for days on end.

Day after day Carl hauled up more rocks.

Joel and Audrey came over in the evenings to help us whenever they had the time.

This entire process of moving the large slabs with crowbars is deja vu for all of us here; the Quarry Garden was built the same way.  Simply haul up the rocks with the tractor and wrecker and then place them by hand with the crowbars.
We're all getting older though.  Joel was a teenager when we built the Quarry in 2001 and we were in our 40's.  Now we're in our 60's and Joel is in his 30's.  But Audrey is still in the single digits, so we have her help for decades to come.

Audrey is testing her dad's strength here, "Can you lift me, Dad?"

We reused the limestone that used to be between the house and the garage which had to be dismantled when we moved the garage.  When the tires on the wrecker go flat, we know we are almost at capacity for the lift.

May melted into June and the garden was starting to come into flower.

Peony 'America'

 We had some rain that caused a slowdown in the work, but as soon as it was dry enough, we continued.

 In the meantime, I was getting ready to plant my urns, and Audrey stepped up to lend me a hand.

 You've got to get the soil preparation right before you plant anything.

 More days go by, more rocks.

 I had purchased some lanterns awhile back that were intended to have candles for illumination.  I also had some red glass orbs lying around and they were a perfect fit in the lanterns.  When the sun shines through them, especially at sunset, they are pretty.


As the days went by, we were getting closer to completion.

I planted some new hydrangea shrubs and some pale cream zinnias along with red geraniums in the new bed off the front porch to bring out the colors in the house itself.
'Patriot' hostas were brought back from the Formal Garden to line the new wall.  I'm sure these hostas would appreciate me making up my mind as to where they are planted; they've been moved three times in the last year.
It was my idea to add the curving walkway off the front porch.  It is fun to renovate a garden, much more fun than it is to renovate a house.
Once Carl had all the limestone walls in place, we brought back one of our favorite granite boulders that had originally been in front of the house.  This grayish black granite with the white stripes was given to us by a farm neighbor thirty years ago.  Carl and his dad had been allowed to go through the neighbor's rock pile looking for big boulders and when they were getting ready to leave with the load of stone on the trailer, the farmer said, "I have one more for you." 

 He took this beautiful specimen off of his barn hill and loaded it for them which was incredibly kind of him.  Sadly, he passed away a short time later due to a tragic farm accident.  Whenever I look at the stone, I'm reminded of him.

The long days of June seem so long ago now in January.

Finally, we were done with the front garden and I was back to weeding the rest of the gardens.   The year of neglect to working on the garden was showing badly; the weeds were doing their thing, cropping up and taking over like usual.

We bought some concrete pavers and put them down to extend the walkway out to the driveway.  The circle pattern in the pavers matches the circles in the driveway grates and the round windows in the gables of the house.

By the end of August, the front garden was looking much better.

It is a big change from the way it was a few years ago, that's for sure. 



But if you look close, you can still see the old house is still in there. 

We're still here, too.


Beth said...

Your home and gardens are stunning! They look like they could be in a magazine! I hope you and your family greatly enjoy your 'new' home.

chavliness said...

Stunning! I'd be sitting on that bench facing the house day in and day out, admiring it endlessly. The hut evolved into a stately home. Every last bit of it is thoroughly thought through and executed to perfection. I love how Audrey was able to take part and assist. It makes for beautiful memories, as is the gift rock.
I wish you all many happy years in your remodeled home and garden.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dearest Karen ~ I've been a follower of yours for many years and this house and garden renovation/transformation is just wonderful!!! It seems like Audrey was just born not that long ago and here she is helping you. It was so good seeing this post from you. You and Carl always inspire me and remind me so much of Mark and I. How I miss my dear Mark. Enjoy every day you have with each other, and I know you do. Love you ~ Rainey a.k.a. FlowerLady

Anonymous said...

How inspiring! I am so impressed with the way the transplants are settling in and flourishing, and those annuals are amazing, clearly you have magic compost on top of everything else!


Beth at PlantPostings said...

Wow, that is really heavy-duty, but it's looking amazing! Such progress! Your granddaughter is adorable!

Karen said...

Beth, thank you, you're so kind!

Chavilness, We're very lucky to have Joel and Audrey to help, you're right, the experiences will make for the best memories to come. Thank you! :-)

Dear Rainey, Thank you, and I do try to savor each day we have together as I know you and Mark did. Time does go by far too quickly, but we never forget our dearest loved ones. Sending hugs and love. :-)

ceci, thank you! We use compost from the chicken coop. :-) The 'girls' help out with their own brand of fertilizer. :-)

Beth, yes, those darn rocks are heavy, and getting heavier by the year. Thank goodness we have Audrey to help. :-)

Lona said...

Oh how wonderful! It has been a long time since I visited the garden blogs. Your home !looks so beautiful Karen. The stone work on the new entrance is so pretty. The way you all work with the stone always fascinated me. Love it. You have had a lot of practice. Lol! The granddaughter is no longer a baby all take care and God Bless. Lona