Making a garden transformation

2016-05-01 17.21.39There were several steps to our recent garden transformation.

  1. Create a mood board in pinterest for inspiration
  2. Share with our landscape person to get help with clean up and structure
  3. Add focal elements and features to match our taste
  4. Get plants, pots and trellises
  5. Acquire some additional garden sculpture
  6. Replace old chairs on our deck

Admittedly, we had some landscaping help with the beginning of the task. Weeds were cleared, weed barrier put in place, gravel and river rock added, and a rock or two were migrated from various parts of our property. All things that appeared beyond either our energy, or our collective ability to lift.

When we bought the house eleven years ago, there were many plants already in place. Some of those were to our taste, though others were not. We struggled with a rhododendron just inside the gate that failed to be lovely. Whatever wee beastie that was eating it made it look like it had mange. The fern next to the farm-style water spigot managed to hide it, but had gotten a little unwieldy, and grass seeds had propagated. A pile of gravel left over from another project had half migrated to the area, along with bulbs left by the squirrels. In its favor, the sweep of the path down to the lovely magnolia, provided a good structural element. However, none of that was helped by the state of disarray. Enter the landscaper.

Sadly, while good work was done in cleaning up and preparing the space, we failed to connect on the design having some variation of scale and a focal point. We wanted a suggestion of a river bed on the downward slope between the path and the fence, curving down to our fabulous tree. We did get some of that, however, all the scale was knee height or below. The space was crying out for some focus, some greenery, and some love. This brought us to this weekend.

2016-05-01 17.23.42 HDRDuring the week, I ordered a couple of garden sculptures online. A couple of metal cranes, some temple pagodas and a nice little cairn of rocks. We put those to one side and started moving around existing materials like pots of grasses, bamboo poles, a peaceful statue and some bricks and rocks. Turned out we really could move that stuff ourselves. One of the pots was too large, but round. When turned on its side, it rolled nicely. That let us get it into place without doing ourselves a mischief. It moved in front of an electrical outlet standing in the middle of the yard (it needed hidden). We placed some more pots to frame the statue, scattered a wandering path of black river rocks and headed for the craft store for inspiration.

2016-05-01 17.22.44 HDRBags of tumbled blue and clear glass followed the meandering path of black rocks, pooled in a couple of places and burbled down the hillside, catching the light as if it was water. Now we had our suggestion of a creek bed. It didn’t need to be exact.

That left us with an area on the other side of the courtyard that was now empty. We 2016-05-01 17.21.24cleaned up, sweeping up leaves and detritus. Making use of a couple concrete pavers, plus a couple of rocks, we built up a tumble of stones in the middle of that area. A peacock statue that was living in the entry foyer of the house migrated outside to sit upon the rocks. After a trip to the garden store, a maidenhair fern and a lacey green plant joined the peacock. A blue fescue moved alongside, together with a couple strands of solar powered lights.

We are looking forward to a lovely summer in our restful courtyard.

2016-05-01 17.20.55 HDR


Made with love

Making things with my hands is a simple kind of magic, the kind of magic that is all about love. I especially like crocheting as it moves along so quickly, and is something you can do while visiting with friends and family; it is something I’ve been doing since I was about eight years old.


Tiny blankets for little people – Photo by Ria

We would gather on a weekend around a pot of tea. The adults would sometimes drink beer in the late afternoon. Someone would bustle around in the kitchen, making snacks like scones, cookies or even toast fingers with butter and jam to go along with the tea. Just two families with the parents, the kids (three from each family), grandparents, and often an uncle or aunt extra who dropped by for a visit.

The hand work would come out when we were settled. Almost everyone worked on something. One uncle would focus on some leather repair, sharpening knives from the kitchen with a whetstone and oil, or mending socks. Someone would be knitting. Nan had her tatting, and a few of us learned to crochet, embroider, and make projects with beads. My mother was almost always working on a dressmaking project, taking up a hem or measuring for a new garment; my cousin Gail would be practicing dance with swords, with her father playing music to accompany her. Weekends were for visiting and projects; to this day, I feel most productive when I am making things.

I still get the most pleasure from planning and making things for people I know. There’s something a bit old-fashioned about a hand-made object, especially one that is not easily found in a store anywhere. One of a kind things feel special, especially as they represent time, creativity and attention to all the tiny details.

This last weekend, I made little afghans for tiny people. I guess you could call them crocheted baby blankets too, made from brightly-colored soft yarn, and around two feet square, or thereabouts. Making them reminds me of the gifts from fairy godmothers in stories, made with luck and love in mind; the good fairytale godmothers, that is, and the luck all good. I like variegated yarn for this. The colors progress through a sequence, making a self-pattern without needing a join. The colors are bright and harmonious. The size is just right for a baby stroller, and light enough that a small child can snuggle up with it when they grow older for a nap or to watch tv. I tend towards acrylics for practical reasons. You can throw them into the washer and dryer over and over with no harm to the piece.

I like to present them like rolled up flowers, tied up with string. They make a fun package to give to friends who are expecting or have had a new child. Reds, blues, greens, purples and spicy orange and pink. Rainbow colors to delight a child’s eyes.