Bird's Eye View of My Garden Home
This bird's eye view of my garden home illustrates the series of garden rooms surronding the house. Like my interior spaces, each of these garden rooms has its own character, style and function. A connecting circuit of paths and walkways directs the flow from one room to the next.
It's been almost 20 years since I received a phone call from a friend who told me she knew of a house that was in need of a new address. The owners had other plans for the lot where a 1904 Colonial Revival cottage was located, and they intended to tear it down if a suitable steward could not be found. The house could be mine for a song if I agreed to move and restore it. It needed quite a bit of work, but the structure was sound and the original features were still intact. Once I found an available lot in my town's historic district and a house mover, I bought the cottage. Even before the house was set on its new foundation, I had the layout of the garden designed.
- Front Garden
As you enter the garden from the sidewalk in front of my house, you walk through a double picket gate and step into an area significantly longer than it is wide. A brick walk leads up broad wooden steps to the front porch and entry. A picket fence and deep herbaceous borders define the remaining "walls" of this garden room. It is an enclosed space that is only fully revealed once you step inside.
- Fountain Garden
As you pass through the arbor from the more formal front garden into the fountain garden the mood changes. Here, a seven-foot tall needle-point holly hedge defines the walls of the room, giving the area a quiet, private feel. The focal point of this garden room is a circular fountain in the middle.
- Parterre Garden
Upon leaving the fountain garden, you step onto a short walkway that leads between two parterres. A parterre is a simple pattern on the surface of the garden made with plants, usually evergreens. These designs emphasize the ground plane of the garden, hence its translation-from the French, which is "along the ground." Parterres can be as elaborate as those seen in the most formal 17th century garden (called "parterre de brodierie") or they can be simple geometric patterns of clipped low growing shrubs or designs made with raised beds in a vegetable garden. For my parterres I used boxwoods to create an "X" inside a square. The center of the "X" is punctuated with a 'White New Dawn' rose growing on a metal trellis.
- Rondel Garden
The rondel garden is made up of a large oval lawn anchored by four matching 'Jane' magnolia trees (Magnolia x 'Jane'). Rondel is a French word that describes a type of fifteenth-century short poem. In the eighteen-century, the English adopted the term to describe a circle or circular object such as a tower or the shape of a garden area. While my rondel is more elliptical than circular, the term seems appropriate for this garden room. Four beds edge the elliptical lawn. In summer I pack these beds with fast growing annuals that offer an abundance of color.
- Vegetable Garden
Looking toward the back of my property, beyond the rondel and over a boxwood hedge, you glimpse the vegetable garden. This is one of my favorite areas because it responds to both my practical side and my love of beauty. Here I grow armloads of fresh produce in a small space that is rich with pattern and texture.
- Tool Shed and Chicken House
I built a garden shed between the two growing areas in the vegetable garden. Inside I store the trowels, forks and other tools of the garden. The shed has a dual purpose, part of it also serves as a home to my small flock of chickens that provide me with a steady supply of fresh eggs.
This covered breezeway connects the house to the garage. This area satisfies my desire to have an outdoor dining pavilion. Since it was first completed, the space has been equipped with an old drop-leaf dining table and eight chairs. It is my favorite place to have meals, whether alone or in the company of friends. The room is accessorized with wall sconces and wire baskets for lighting, ceiling fans to stir the breeze and even sisal rugs to give the space an even greater feeling of a room. The ceiling is painted a sky blue.
The bounty of a garden requires a lot of storage space. Hence my garage has always been more of a cupboard, drying rack and additional tool shed than a place to park my car.
The exterior of the garage creates more space to garden. By attaching simple trellises I can fill the blank walls with flowering vines and climbing roses.
- Heel Yard
Just as you begin to wander down the stone path at the curve in the shade garden, a secondary path of stepping stones leads into the service yard. Just as every home has its place of utility for the mechanics of daily living, the same function is needed outdoors. Tucked away behind the clipped arch of hornbeam in the southeast corner of my property is where it all really happens. In this essential but concealed space, newly purchased plants await their placement in the garden, seedlings are sprouted and nurtured, and kitchen and yard wastes are composted. It is in effect a staging ground for the rest of the garden. Every plant that goes into the ground spends some time here first. I have recently added a greenhouse to the heel yard. The greenhouse has enabled me to garden year round.
- Shade Garden
The tiny shade garden is filled with woodland natives that have been arranged with a free and inexact hand. A screen of evergreens and hornbeam blocks the view of the neighboring house and the heel yard on the south side of the garage. A path curves through the area in a way you cannot see the entire garden without walking further down the path. This helps create a sense of mystery as to what lies beyond. Once you walk along the path, a long corridor running beside the south side of the house will come into view, broken by a tall formally clipped hedge with an arched passage through it.
- Hallway Garden
This quiet path running along the south side of my house is not unlike a hallway in that it serves as a passage from one room to the next. This narrow passageway connects the shade garden to the front garden where we began our tour. It is enclosed by an eleagnus hedge on one side and the colonnade of the porch on the other. In this slender ten-foot space, the stone path that began in the shade garden continues through its center. A pair of trellises supporting 'White New Dawn' roses punctuates a side porch entry to the house.