Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ready for Winter

We are having an unseasonably warm week for November, but I have not forgotten that we had snow on Thanksgiving last year.  I've got the firewood stacked, put the garden to bed, and staked the driveway for the plow.

Terry and Kyle did not make it here to build the wall in front (who's surprised?) but I have high hopes for spring! Also slated for spring is a more permanent solution to the problem of the driveway washing away in a big rain storm.  This will involve a small retention structure and a tie-in to the catch-basin in the street, which has necessitated the involvement of an engineer and the State Department of Transportation. Nothing is simple. (The temporary solution is a series of water bars which makes for a very bumpy ride up to the house.)

Most of my guests ask to see "before and after" pictures, and I have asked Dave for some "before" pictures.  He has yet to produce any though he says he has lots, but meanwhile, here is one I found on his website from when they were just starting the work.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Brief garden update

I was able to continue planting through June, but since then have just been letting things grow, pulling weeds, and watering when needed.

 Here is the patio area, with the fence painted, a new bench, some shrubs and somewhat bigger perennials.  The trellises are for honeysuckles which the hummingbirds found right away.
The herb garden at the corner of the garage, with its border of marigolds, is doing the best, since I got that in much earlier than everything else.  There are lots of empty spaces, and I'm getting ready to order things to fill them with for fall planting.

I am particularly pleased with the red sunflower.  Next year I'll plant more of those! The basil has outdone itself: I've been making and freezing pesto which I will enjoy all winter.

This weekend is the last weekend of BSO concerts at Tanglewood. (Pops concerts and other events will continue for a few more weeks.)  The season ends a bit early this year because they are going on a European tour.  At the beginning of the season I joined the BSO Volunteer Association and became a Tanglewood tour guide.  It is such a joy to wander around the beautiful grounds during the day and hear music coming from several rehearsals at once. Tonight is the last concert I will attend this season: our young (same age as my daughter!) conductor and his opera singer wife are featured.  

Terry and Kyle stopped by the other day, and they are still planning to come back sometime this fall to make something in the front of the house with the left-over stone, so stay tuned!

Monday, June 15, 2015

With lots of help, I build a garden

The last month has seen some major activity around here.  Rebekah, who is the daughter of Terry and sister of Kyle, the wonderful masons who built the monumental limestone retaining wall, came with her hard-working landscaping crew and really transformed the place.

First up, repairing and expanding the pea-stone parking area. The snowplow did a number here and I realized it needed to be a bit larger to provide enough parking and turn-around maneuverability. Once this was done, they could bring the whole area (and all around the house, in fact) up to its intended grade.  This took 3 large truck loads of topsoil that Bill had been stockpiling for years, as well as 2 truckloads of gravel and 2 more of pea stone. They seeded the lawn areas and put down mulch on the areas that I intended for perennial beds. (I'm not a huge fan of this type of mulch, but it is really necessary to help keep the weeds down until I get all the plants in.) Unfortunately we were in a drought, so I had to haul hoses and sprinklers around to water the grass for a couple of weeks.  It came in very nicely, and the renters have all been very understanding of the "work in progress".

expanding the pea-stone parking area

seeding lawn area
mulch for future perennial border

mulch spread on perennial border,
future lawn area between it and driveway

Then Todd came with his fence crew and put up the privacy fence behind the patio, between the house and the garage, creating a nice outdoor room. They had quite a challenge, as the underground propane tanks, gas lines and electric lines are also in this area.  They had to dig their post holes very carefully, and a couple of them were on ledge, so they had to bring their jack hammer!

patio area pre-fence

bringing in the fence posts

jack-hammering a post hole
the completed (to be painted) fence

Once these professionals were done, it was my turn.  I had help from UPS, which delivered baby perennials I had ordered from two of my favorite mail order plant outfits.  I've created several gardens this way, and though the plants are small when they start out, they are not pot bound, like most nursery-bought plants, and in 3 years they will be the same size as the larger ones purchased from nurseries (and will probably have a healthier root system).  No "instant landscaping" for me: you have to use your imagination, but it will be fun to watch the garden grow.
baby perennials waiting

daylilies come bare-root

use your imagination, and check back in three years

Finally, last night we got a good heavy, soaking rain.  I had gotten the last of the perennials in yesterday (except the ones that will go right next to the fence; those are waiting until the fence is painted after it weathers a couple of weeks).  I reckon I have put in about 250 plants in the last three weeks. I am happiest when I am digging in the dirt!

Hartland Designs, Inc.
New England Fence
Bluestone Perennials
Gilbert Wild Daylilies

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Work resumes on the Schoolhouse landscape

The winter was long and the snow was deep.

After a late start, waiting for all the snow to melt, then a rainy April, we finally got started again with some landscaping in May.  Then we experienced a drought in May, but in the last few days we've finally had some rain.

Here is how the wall looked at the end of March:

Here it is today, with a picture from the same place in October of 2013:
June 2015

There is still much, much more to do, and from now on I will post updates on my progress. After having been frustrated not to be able to do any gardening all last summer, I may now turn out to be sorry what I wished for!

October 2013
As a reminder, here is how it looked when Terry and Kyle first came to start building the wall in June of 2014: