Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Landscape Design

This time of year, I'm reminded of the other part of our farmhouse renovation...the yard. The above picture shows what the side of the house looks like today...

...this is what it looked like after the contractors left. Due to new electrical, plumbing and water lines, and grading new elevations around the entire house, we were left with a sea of dirt and gravel.

So we had to start from scratch. The yard landscaping was a project we hadn't anticipated when we set forth on our farmhouse renovation and is one that is taking time to complete.

Last summer, we put in a picket fence, front walk and stairs, and dining patio...these tasks alone took the entire summer to complete!

Here's the what the front of the house looks like today. The picket fence offers a coziness to the area around our house. We also wanted to define the area of our property that would be for gardens (inside the fence), from the part that would be more natural and simple (outside the fence).

This is what the front of the house looked like when the contractors left.

This is what the outdoor dining patio looks like today.

This is what it looked like after the contractors left. Once again, Mr. Engineer (Hubby) used all his know-how to design and build a retaining wall, level floor and two sets of stairs.

This is what our 'backyard' looked like just before we went through the renovation. The edge of the 'lawn' previously dropped off a couple of feet past the old deck (which was torn down during the remodel due to rot). The fill we had excavated from the front of the house was hauled out back to extend the lawn area.

This is what it looks like today. We planted over sixty (back breaking work!) White Simplicity hedge roses along the entire perimeter of the lawn. We have yet to rebuild the deck/balcony (this comes off from the french door in the living room) we're trying to enjoy summer this time around instead of always working on the house. Also, we're still deciding on some of the design elements of the balcony. I'll do a separate post on that soon.

So that's what we've done so far.

Landscape design is something I love but is not something I know. I've always loved gardens, especially old country gardens, and I love old houses with hedges and a sense of outdoor coziness. But exactly how to create that with a blank canvas completely stifled me.

Then last fall I came across Tara Dillard's beautiful blog and was overjoyed to discover that she did long distance consults! After sending her dozens of photographs of the yard, and discussing ideas over a few phone calls, she created a beautiful landscape design plan for our property.

It was just what I needed...professional vision. The plans will evolve over time, as money and time permit, but it feels really, really wonderful to have a plan. Tara's amazing gift for creating beautiful landscapes is something I truly admire. I feel quite honored and very happy that her vision will be expressed here on our property.

As we progress with our landscape projects, I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Single Blossom

Last spring I came across a lilac shrub at our local nursery. Its blossoms had the strongest lilac fragrance I've ever smelled.

I brought her home and planted her by our old lilac bush so that they could blossom happily together.

But this has been a cool spring so our little baby lilac hasn't shown many signs of life. However, today I looked closer and saw that the poor leafless branches miraculously produced one single large blossom.

And she's beautiful. The variety is called Katherine Havemeyer and the flowers are described as 'lilac-blue, double and open from purple buds, with four to eight inch dense panicles appearing in late spring and early summer'. This species is also referred to as the French Lilac and is known for its extremely fragrant blossoms.

Perhaps as spring warms into summer, she'll come on stronger and grace us with more of her sweet blossoms.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blooming Lilacs

I've been waiting patiently for our lilac bush to blossom. Here is the first bouquet I've made.

I filled an old milk glass vase of my Grandmother's with them, using florist foam to secure the lilacs in place.

The lilacs are very special to me as the bush is quite old, and I know that the women who have lived on this farm before me have gathered around her, awaiting her blossoms as anxiously as I, breathing in their sweet fragrance.

Here is the old lilac bush.

Amazingly, this is what that same bush looked like when we bought the place. The blossoms were very sparse.

Now you can smell them from the porch there are so many. When the blossoms fade, I'll again clip as many as the expired blossoms as I can reach to encourage a more prolific bloom next year. From what I've read, lilacs prefer to be pruned immediately after their blossoms have faded.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Summer Living Room

We decided to rearrange the living room for the summer. To keep things fresh we moved the two chairs in front of the windows, and have the couch facing them. We have a beautiful view of Mt. Adams over in Washington state (we're in Oregon), so we're focusing on that view through the clear skies of summer instead of on the fireplace, which we probably won't use much.

The peonies are still smiling. This Japanese variety doesn't seem to last as long as the classic Sara Bernhardt styles. But I love them just the same. They are so unique and large that their limited life span is all the more cherished.

We still need to order a larger sea grass rug for this room. The sea grass above is meant to go in the dining room which is several feet shorter (in both directions) than the one we'll eventually place here. But we're trying to space out our home expenses so the rug purchase is on hold for now.

I'd also like to get a delicate table to put between the two chairs. I have several antique side tables (all dark wood) but I'd like to lighten it up a bit with something made of glass perhaps...with gold metal legs. Something bright and light.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The First Peonies of Spring

We went to our favorite local flower farm this weekend. This beautiful Dutch Colonial home was a private residence until a couple of years ago. Now, it serves as a wine tasting room at the farm.

Out back is a lovely patio...

...and several acres of flowers, including this beautiful Japanese variety of peony which is the first to bloom.

Hubby came with me to help with the heavy lifting.

The sun was covered by clouds by the time we got home so I'm afraid that this photo doesn't quite do the brilliant blooms justice.

Hubby clipped a small bouquet of these sweet flowers, which we were told are 'Veronica'. He liked them because they resembled wild flowers.

How cute is that?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Sea of Alpacas

The sweet alpacas have returned to the pasture that I often drive by.

The field no longer looks empty. Instead it's quite full.

Full of grace and beauty.

Full of poetry and motion.

They're like a song.

Soft and graceful.

And of perfect harmony.

I can't tell you how much their presence warms my heart.

P.S. Hubby took these pictures for me as I've been feeling a bit under the weather. xoxo

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pure Style Home

I hope that everyone had a wonderful weekend!

I'm a guest blogger over at Pure Style Home today. Lauren's beautiful blog and gorgeous designs are always incredibly inspiring. Thanks to Lauren for inviting me to participate in her guest blogger series!

If you haven't seen Pure Style Home yet, you're in for a very special treat!
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