Saturday, November 12, 2011

The View From Here

the dining room window (taken yesterday)

and here:

the living room window (also taken yesterday)

is dismal.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I have been wrestling with landscaping my yard since the summer of 2008.

The way things were.

I planted a Mock Orange and a Hydrangea near the house this year: I think both have died.

I found this fabulous web-site by a visionary landscape designer/garden planner which I know Anne will love. The blog is called Vanishing Threshold and its author is Tara Dillard.

She believes in creating views to be seen from the house, establishing a diverse habitat in the lawn to maximize pollination, using shot pea gravel and not using foundation plants. (Which is perfect for me--have I mentioned my Hydrangea and the Mock Orange? How about the Dogwood I planted the year before last which is barely hanging on?)

She posted this image of a garden and it instantly captivated me.

from The New York Times. photographer: Randy Harris.

No surprise, I've been up to the wee hours of the morning planning my front yard.

This centre box would be planted with hellebores, ferns and hostas. (One of Tara's Trinities.)

Can you imagine it?

I can. And it is the first time I have had something captivate my imagination so completely I can see it almost right down to the last detail. Almost.

Remember Spring? I want to hit the ground running next year.

Pro: I may already have the materials I need for the centre planter box. We have old railroad ties waiting by the side of the house.

Pro: I get to rip up that sidewalk.

Pro: It's not a big planting area. I just may be able to take care of the small number of plants this requires.

Pro: I love the idea of a partial "tapestry" hedge. Moving my shrubs out to the front would not only give me a gorgeous view of them from my front windows but it might save their lives. Have I mentioned the Dogwood, Hydrangea and Mock Orange?

Pro: This plan allows me to expand. If I want to plant sedums or rudebekias or pupera or phlox or grass even another Thuja in the corners I can.

Pro: I fell in love with gates, recently.

Pro: It will hide the foundation--without planting up against it.

Con: I may get really annoyed with having to skirt around the centre "plant island."

Con: I need a focal point. I don't want to spend a ton of money, yet I want something tall and architectural.

Con: Boxwood doesn't do well here.

Con: I really don't know what to do about that flagpole.

Con: This plan may be altogether too formal for my modest little house.

From the street sidewalk, opposite the front door, taken today. Just look at that wonky sidewalk--I mean, what else is there to look at? (sigh).


Carol-Anne (Use the Good Dishes!) said...

I LOVE the idea...but I do think it might be a smidge too formal. Could it be 'casual-ized"?

I always try to put something outside my window so that I'll have something nice to look at, and it makes a world of difference.

Great idea....

Anne At Large said...

I agree, Tara's blog has beautiful pictures but I am inclined to think Much Too Formal for your cozy little house. Also, what zone is she writing from? It may be worth keeping the concepts but altering the specifics.

Also when one boxwood dies your whole hedge is messed up. Where I come from hydrangeas like lots of water and sheltered areas and I have never seen them in the snow, and hellebores, ferns and hostas all like moist, shady woodland gardens. You need to talk to somebody local about plant choices and how much sun/water/protection from the elements they need before you stick them in exposed raised beds.

Also also, I would love to see an attractive path instead of the wonky sidewalk and have it flanked by beds instead of having one central bed for you to make a circuit around every time you go in the front door. Something about that sounds implausible to me.

Alana in Canada said...

I like the idea of flanking beds, too--I just don't know if we have enough railroad ties for two beds.

I worry that two beds will make the asymmetery and the crowded to the left sidedness siting of the house even more obvious to the eye.

But I'm beginning to think that raised beds with nothing in them--and a lawn-like path--skirting around some sort of focal point-- would be better than what I've got going on now.

My neighbour has hostas and ferns in raised beds--the house to the right in the picture. She was a fanatic about watering though. We are on the edge of Boreal Forest habitat--so it may be OK....(and Prairie--it's always a back and forth thing between the two here. Wet years--forest, dry--and the meadow starts taking over...)

Thanks so much for your feedback, Carol-Anne and Anne.

I'm going to hunt around for some ideas of inexpensive focal points--and research how to take out concrete without doing it myself with a sledgehammer this time. That sidewalk is at least six inches deep in places.

onshore said...

I on the other hand like the central bed idea and that it has to be circled around, I think it would make an exiting effect. It's not maybe the most usefull if you have to carry something large to your home like lets say a sofa.

Where do you park, is there another way to the house? If there is another route then I don't see why you couldn't use a central bed.

Hostas and ferns need shade so if the front yard is very sunny I'd use some other plants. Study the place you have first and buy the plants accordinly. It's much easier that way than trying to keep the plants alive in the wrong place.

scb said...

Every one else has made such useful and practical and thoughtful comments, and I think they've all got good things to say.

What I noticed first about the initial pictures was "NO SNOW!!!" then I scrolled down, and thought "Oh."

I love the look of the centre bed, although if I had to walk around it all the time, I'd likely wish I hadn't put it in. Also -- do neighborhood kids ever cut across your yard?

I agree that you might want to tone down the formality a bit for your setting, but it would be lovely.

Jordan@the2seasons said...

Good luck with this! We are in the same boat with our front yard. We just took measurements before the snow comes here in upstate NY. Planning is going to be our Winter project so when spring comes we are ready. We have a sidewalk issue as well just overall our front needs a face lift. Good luck it will be fun to see your progress.

Alana in Canada said...

Thank you. Good luck with your project.

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