We’ve had a wickedly long and fierce winter this last year… but the snow has finally melted and the hope of spring garden and landscape work is just around the corner. I’ve done no gardening since we bought this house and I’m looking forward to it!
I have some ideas of what the design could be,
but I’m still searching for garden and landscape inspiration.
The concentration on our new house has been on renovating the house inside and out. We started in the fall of 2017… and it’s been a whirlwind of activity since!! This is the first chance we’ve had to address the gardens and landscaping around the house… and boy oh boy is there ever a lot to do out there!!
This is what the front of the house looked like before we started to renovate it:
The setting is lovely with ponds on two sides of it, but the the house itself was awkwardly asymmetrical among other obvious design flaws.
The first thing we did was to make it worse…
My friend described it best one day after she drove by… “It looks like a war zone there!” I think she was doing a well-being check on me… making sure I didn’t get buried in the rubble.
We had several trees that were either diseased or in really bad position to the house. 13 of them had to be cut down! We had piles of construction materials strewn about, along with what appeared to be a bunch of miscellaneous mounds of dirt. The dirt mounds were actually holes dug for the porch footings, but from the road they looked more like badgers attacked the yard. The house had mismatched siding where we had windows replaced with different sized ones.
This really was a war zone… the battle being fought was an assault on an un-charming exterior… working to transform it into a charming Colonial Revival Farmhouse Cottage style.
We then built a back addition, along with this new front porch.
That meant that instead of a narrow 3′ narrow pathway, there would actually be a front porch. (here is a post I wrote on just the front porch)
This is an update of the outside of the front of the house now.
The porch is done, the windows and door replaced, the house painted, the pergola built across the front sidewalk entrance. The tree stump that we were considering for carving to the right of the pergola is now gone. Once the pergola was built, I decided that it just looked like it was competing with it.
This is now the backyard. Along with several diseased trees, we cleared out scrubby bushes and opened the view up to the lovely pond view.
After all the trees were cleaned up, (it was a huge pile!) we had a fence and firepit installed.
In this close up of the front porch,below, you can see there’s isn’t much landscaping… LOL… Thank goodness for the faux boxwood I have in the urns flanking the front steps to give it a little look of landscape. BTW, I do love these faux boxwood! (affiliate link) They’ve lasted for years and still look totally real. I also have these taller double ball ones by the garage doors.
As far as the landscaping in the front though, there are a few scraggly plants left over. A lot of ‘just dirt’ mostly. When it rains, the dirt splashes up onto the white skirting around the porch, so that will need to be addressed. there is about 3 or 4 feet between the sidewalk and that skirting where the porch is. I’m trying to decide if I want to just fill it with hydrangeas or do a mix of plants…
I am constantly taking pictures as I see gardens and houses that catch my eye. You never know how you may use it for inspiration.
This house that sits on the beach in Maine was the inspiration for our new garage window design:
This cottage is in the Simple Decorating Tips logo! (do you recognize it from that?)
I don’t shy away from gleaning inspiration from both small and large gardens, sometimes very large!
Like this house below… It’s a massive vintage mid-coast Maine home… it could seem a bit too out of reach to get any ideas from for my humble home.
But in fact, it has tons of inspiration. One thing I love is how they have structure, with just greenery and not so many flowers. It’s quite lovely.
On a bike ride one day, I snapped a picture of this gorgeous fern border:
I also think that commercial settings can be great sources for landscaping inspiration. They usually have the money to hire high-end garden and landscape designers, so why not learn from the pros?!
Below is an example, however, that has some really cute garden ideas, and some not so good…
This quaint little cottage on a small island in Maine has a charmingly simple cottage garden landscape, but I wouldn’t take pruning lessons from this example… except for maybe how not to prune bushes!
Still though, isn’t that little arched doorway arbor, periwinkle shutters and window boxes the sweetest?
I find I take a ton of pictures of fences, walls and borders. My eye always catches that type of garden structure.
This hydrangea border is so lovely creating it’s own fenceline.
Sometimes I like something I see, but can’t totally define what it is about it that is so charming. By taking a picture and looking over it later can be helpful to identify what I find appealing. We drive by this house when we leave the beach. It’s so lovely, but in the picture I was able to really look at details I couldn’t catch in a drive-by.
There is a point we like to walk to in Cape Porpoise, Maine. We’ve taken different roads to see all the houses and gardens on that point. One time, we found ourselves, as one does while on a point, at a dead end. It was a heavily wooded area leading to someone’s very private house. With very little natural light, only flickers filtering its way to the ground through the heavy canopy, I’m sure most plants wouldn’t have survived there. There also is granite ledge there so the soil level would be shallow. I love the solution they came up with to create a beautiful natural and manicured treatment for this spot:
They planted baseball sized rocks along with a few random large ones surrounded by moss.
It is a very interesting treatment for a heavily shaded area with shallow soil.
In the spring, a bulb garden seems so cheery.
After months of snow, to see their bright bold faces blooming announcing the change of seasons is always welcome. I planted several more bulbs in the terraced garden on the east side of our house last fall… I hope they survived the wicked winter! Though I love the yellows, oranges and reds in an early spring bulb garden, I’ve learned that I don’t love those same colors in the heat of the summer. I prefer white, pink, blues and purples for summer flowers.
Another thing I want to try to be careful of this time around, (and this is a BIG ONE!) is to create a garden landscape that isn’t too much work to maintain. Easier said than done, for me though. I get excited for the design and can forget the time involved in the upkeep.
I love the way this cottage garden below looks with the fence and arbor in it.
I have a friend that has a very similar garden style. As lovely as it is, it doesn’t come cheap! It eats lots of time maintaining it… weeding and constantly moving spreading plants that have re-seeded in creating a little too wild of a cottage garden. Though I love it and I hope I am going to try to steer away from that type of maintenance. I do have an area on the left side of the porch that I’d like to incorporate this look in a maintenance friendly way. hmmm is that possible?
This cottage garden at the home store for Stonewall Kitchen is so beautiful:
They have a wonderful mixture of plants, flowers and vegetables! There are also notes to be taken on how well they’ve incorporated structure into their gardens for height and interest.
One of the most inspiring gardens I’ve been to, is my dad’s!
Dad has a huge area of gardens in their backyard. Mom has her flowers and roses and Dad has orchards, berries, and tons of different varieties of vegetables. He maintains a large compost bin, cold frames, many planting boxes and beds.
Dad is the best gardener I know. He understands the science behind making vegetables healthy and tasty and has the ability and desire to work in the garden like no other 80-something man I know!
When we were in California in January, we stayed at an inn in Sonoma Valley that had beautiful gardens. (here is a post I wrote on staying in Sonoma) I found a ton of inspiration from their landscaping. (being somewhere that was green in the throws of winter back home sure helped too!)
They did a wonderful job creating interest by dissecting areas into smaller interesting areas with arbors, hedges, and paths. It was a great example of creating ‘rooms’ in the garden so that not everything was visible from all angles. It’s so much more intriguing to find out what around the corner when you get there.
Another thing I noticed was how a well executed simple idea can be so charming.
Like this very simple arbor design:
and this very simple gravel pathway:
I could add a gazillion more pictures for garden and landscape inspiration… and maybe will in a future post… there really are so many ideas…
I hope I can keep it simple, but charming and lovely.
So I’m going to end this garden and landscape inspiration post with a very simple garden landscape design:
There’s a lot to be said about tidy symmetry.
Want to read more? Here is the page with all the posts I’ve written about gardening outside (as well as inside gardening too) You’ll find a couple of great gardening tips from my dad’s garden there. There are also several posts on garden projects I’ve worked on here and at our other houses.
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