March 18, 2009

Big Dreams for My Piece of Earth

Last week I posted on inspiration gleaned from a book. Who knew that even better inspiration would come in the form of a comment from a fellow garden blogger/landscape designer, Susan of Garden Chick's Design Tips? Susan suggested removing the railing from my cramped front porch and building stairs all along the front to create a veranda effect.

"Yeah, I really like that," I stated.
"Me too," replied hubby.
"Add it to the project list," we agreed.

That new idea triggered a return to the endlessly updated drawings of my big dreams for our yard. I drew the new front steps, the hardscaping in front of them and the way the beds would have to be adjusted. I went out in the backyard and measured where the trees were actually planted last fall so I could correctly plot them on the drawing (of course they didn't end up exactly where I had previously drawn them). I included our current ideas for what to do with the back patio - add a pergola overhead - and where I want the stone path to circle around the backyard. Here's the current drawing with trees and borders, but no plants drawn in. Click on the picture to see a bigger - and slightly easier to decipher - version.

I have plenty of ideas on which plants will go where, but I'm not ready to commit. The front yard is going toward a lavender-pink-apricot color scheme with plants that can handle the hot sun there on the southern exposure of our home. Pictured below are probable inclusions in the front.

The backyard will necessarily have plenty of shaded beds under the small forest of trees we planted. But the main sunny english-roses-and-perennials bed, with a color scheme of white, dark purple, lavender, crimson, deep pink and light pink, will be just above and to the left of the central lawn. It will be the focal point from the sitting area in our living room. Some likely plant choices are pictured below, though I couldn't find a good dark blue-violet picture to include.

The front yard project list includes building the aforementioned front steps and hardscaping, plus adjusting the sprinkler system, reshaping the beds and planting two more trees. Hubby is tenatively scheduled this weekend to rip out the stand of quaking aspens (not shown on the drawing, but they are on the right of the driveway). They're just too aggressive for our yard and will probably be replaced with a flowering cherry.
The backyard project list includes replacing the aluminum awning with a white vinyl pergola, adjusting the patio shape, removing LOTS of grass, adjusting the sprinkler system, and installing the stone path (my favorite part of the dream - the kids will love running around it, and I'll love sauntering through my gardens).
The soil needs to be amended everywhere, and I'll probably end up edging all the lawn areas with more concrete curbing. Yeah, I know some people think it's horridly ugly. It's not my favorite, but some of the new styles aren't so bad and it does keep the lawn in its place (not completely, but it helps).
And here's where patience is a virtue. It will probably take a decade for all of these projects to receive funding and be completed. But someday, it will be gorgeous. I'm envisioning a lovely garden wedding reception, or a place on the local garden tour (is that presumptious?). Here's to big dreams and the joy of the journey.


  1. Hi VW,
    LOVE, LOVE the veranda idea. You've got some big plans and dreams and that means someday you will get to the garden you envision! I'm going to be right here watching you create it... it is going to be great fun!
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  2. I don't think you're being presumptuous at all. All of my projects started with an over sized dream, usually in the dead of winter. I wouldn't let myself think about the back breaking work when the end result was so alluring.

    Your horticulture/landscape degree is evident on your drawing. I bet you're having fun putting your skills to work on your own digs. Keep us posted.

  3. VW, I think the dreams sound wonderful. The plan is great and you will evolve into the garden of your dreams. Looks great!

  4. No matter how long it takes, you will complete all the projects, and you can see the final beauty already by envisioning it all. Envisioning the finished garden is a real joy. I do it each time I plant a tiny tree. For some reason I always see it as a majestic oak-someday.

  5. You are certainly off to a wonderful start. Garden Chick's tip sounds like a winner. May your dreams soon become a reality. Happy Spring!

  6. VW, I read your post this morning and was going to leave you another round of advice, but instead your project provided inspiration for my own blog. I've posted some advice on stairs if you want to drop by.

    The design looks great - I love all the curves! Also love the choice of giant garage for the label, LOL, I've wanted to do that on client drawings often enough. If at some point you want to email me the PDF (and it's to scale, any scale), I'll overlay some pathway alternatives over what you've drawn.

  7. Thanks so much for the encouraging comments! I hemmed and hawed over posting my bare-bones landscape drawing, as I didn't have time to 'pretty it up' with fancy circle outlines and fine printing, etc. Susan - thanks for the steps post on your blog. The scale is 1/4" or one square to 2 feet in real life. I don't have a scanner, so I just laid the paper on the ground and took a picture of it. I'll try to figure out how to make a PDF of my drawing and send it to you.

  8. Gotta stick my 2-cents in, as long as you're still just dreaming on paper. The new design is an improvement, but you still have your guests walking up your driveway, the feature of your home designed for cars. I ALWAYS look for an opportunity to honor visitors by dedicating a walkway to people. Consider running the path all the way to where guests park in front of your home, lose some more lawn (never a problem) and flair the plantings out at the street.

    Food for thought.

  9. Isn't it fun to plan! I'm almost sorry I'm sort of done. Almost. Sort of.
    But here's one more thought: Might you be able to transform the entrance so a person with a wheelchair or walker can get in easily? I have two good friends who have to use them, and it's difficult to get them in the house (fortunately, once they are in, at least the remodeled toilet has the correct width). I know ramps can look ugly, but they can also look inviting (and they're great for strollers).
    Have fun!

  10. Always fun and educational to find out other peoples' garden pipe dreams...and I'll join the chorus and say, well maybe that is a big dream to bite off and chew, but you can proceed a little at a time. And that might be good, because in the process you might find you need to make changes to accomodate the changes in your lives.

    I was much struck by the idea of using composite pictures as a design tool; yours really gave me a feel for what they would all look like together.

  11. Thanks for more ideas!
    Billy (wise guy) - I love the idea of 'honoring guests' with a path to the front door. Our front yard is already taken up with SO MUCH driveway that I hesitate to add any more hardscape. I know that hardscaping is the key to a great yard, but I really want more plants and less concrete, and we're probably not going to shell out for expensive stone or something. Plus, we actually park in our garage so 90% of the time, visitors can just park in our giant driveway. I'll probably put some stepping stones through the front beds so I can skip through on the way to the mailbox, but not add more paths. We'll see.
    Town Mouse - it would be nice to be wheelchair accessible, but that's a big project that we might not ever need, so I don't know if we'll tackle it.
    DS - Sometimes I get the urge to cut and paste, and putting the plant pictures together is helpful for me, even though I know the plants won't always be in flower.

  12. Hi VW, what a great idea for the front steps. How inviting it will be with places for pots and people to sit too. Your long term plan will allow for new products that might work better while you wait to get it all done. Tree placement is the most important to do early and get it right the first time. How fun!

  13. exactly - as you put it so well, it's the joy of the journey that counts, and you can't go wrong because it evolves and evolves and ev ... enjoy your planning, and your making them plans happen - eventually - maybe ... (as you know, VW, this is my most passionate topic, so hope I'm not ranting too much)

  14. Hey VW

    Belatedly, I thought I'd leave the design comments to the experts.

    Suffice to say, there is no reason why you shouldn't achieve something worthy of an 'open' garden.

    I like your choice of trees by the way. The blossom will be stunning.



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