A wee little tour of the Farmhouse38 gardens….
The Front Yard:
When we first bought the house four years ago, the front of it was such a barren wasteland that I was literally twitchy to start planting. One of the first things that went in was the proverbial white picket fence, and, with it, the front planter beds that run along the town sidewalk. I was both in love and bored with the fence–it was so cliche, but so perfect for the house–yet, I knew that I needed to do something to add a little bit of the unexpected to this spot. I like a little quirk in my life. Enter wine bottles….lots and lots of wine bottles. I’m not going to take credit for this notion, I saw it years ago in a garden magazine and had it filed away in the cobwebby recesses of my brain. Finally, finally I could apply it.
I’m just going to lay it all out on the table here: a lot of hangovers went into the creation of this feature. A lot. You also have to take into consideration, that, at the time, we were living in the midst of a chaotic renovation, in two tiny rooms, no kitchen, barely one bathroom, and a lot of filth. So, yes. There was a lot of wine-drinking involved. Don’t judge me. I recycled.
Typically speaking, these beds are planted with annuals–whatever is bright and seasonally aesthetic, that’s what I stuff in there (along with a few perennials to anchor the scheme all year long). I tend to love the dynamic clash of purples and lime greens, so that is a color scheme you will see quite frequently throughout my landscape choices. I also run a pretty tight ship up there–things are pretty manicured and presentable. I leave the managed chaos to the backyard.
One of the elements that probably drives my love of the afor-mentioned color combo, is my wisteria. I love wisteria. I always have, my whole life….how fitting then, that we land in a town that is famous for the vine. So, I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I would plant it on this property…the question was, where? Oh, I know. On the pergola that we built solely for that purpose. The vine is still a wee baby, and this year was the first real flowering we’ve had (they don’t really get blooming for several years). It was so enchanting to sit in the shade of the pergola, and look up to see those gorgeous, sweet-smelling flowers hanging down. Magic! Such magic.
The Backyard Proper
The main portion of our back forty features the driveway that leads down to the old buggy barn (we could call it a garage, but because of its age, build and my farm fixation, why would we?), a modest stretch of lawn, and several different planting areas. This is where the madness begins.
Standing sentinel between the lawn and drive is the big old, old, old grapefruit tree. It is grand and prolific, yielding at least two crops of fruit every year. And because of its age, these grapefruit are not for beginners–no cross-bred, sissy pink fruit here. These things are TART. They make for some pretty tasty Salty Dogs, though (one of our favorite cocktails….I digress, yet again, onto cocktails).
Under the grapefruit tree is the shade garden. This is a little bit of a woodland glade, mossy and ferny, with some whimsical additions for visiting kids….Fine, fine, it’s totally for me. I like it, okay?
Closer to the house are the herb gardens. I reference them as such because there are a lot of herbs in there, but depending on the time of year, there is also a jumble of roses, vegetables, weeds, and whatever else I feel like tucking in there. But you can depend on the herbs: lavender (oh, how I am obsessed with lavender), rosemary, oregano, curry, dill, thyme, lemon balm, sage, and six different types of mint (regular, orange, peppermint, chocolate, pineapple, and apple). This spot is where you will also find the bird jacuzzi (some might call it a fountain).
Right up against the house, under the stairs from the upper deck, is a strange little planter bed that I was really puzzled with when we first got here. It is tiny, and awkward, and shaded, and really….pointless. So, because I grew up by the ocean, and have an over-abundant collection of seashells, I decided to showcase some of them here and create my ‘Mermaid Garden’. Just a tiny little seashore-themed garden with a mermaid statuette that the neighborhood kids call ‘Ariel’. Okay, fine, I call her that.
Let’s chat about the lawn for a moment. I appreciate a nice, suburban stretch of perfectly manicured turf, really, I do. But ours is completely useless to me. It is just soaking up space and water, and the only people who use it are the dogs. To go potty. Currently, I have flower beds completely framing the entire stretch of lawn, but it isn’t enough for me. Every time that I decide I want more, I carve a little more lawn away and put in a flower bed and Jonathon groans. You see, he is a lawn person. He loves a good lawn. He clings to our back lawn like it is his only island in a quickening storm. Poor Jonathon. Soon, you see, soon….my evil plan will take hold and there will be no grass–only glorious, glorious gardens! I will wait for my moment and strike. It is only a matter of time now.
Here is where I give a shout-out to my roses. Aside from lavender, roses are my other obsession (Jonathon might call it a serious problem) I’ve got over 35 different roses back there (and when the lawn goes, there will be more, oh yes…there will be more). My absolute favorite, favorite, favorite, are the David Austin roses–I cannot get enough of them. I really love the old-timey English rose looks and smells of them. They are wonderful. My sunhat is off to Mr. Austin. But I have a plethora of other roses back there, too: hybrid teas, floribundas, climbers of every sort. The reality is that there is not a single rose that I would kick out of bed (hehe, see what I did there?).
Garden of Weeds….
Finally!, we head to the back of the property, to the potager…or my little weed garden. This is my prized spot. Along the west side of the barn is the gravel garden path (dotted with an assortment of rusty, reclaimed star washers), which leads to the front-door-turned-garden-gate, complete with original stained glass, lion’s head knocker, and knob and keys. I love the ‘secret garden’ effect this gives upon entering. In actuality, I really am going for this little plot to be a ‘secret garden’ (one of my top two favorite works of literature and probably the catalyst for my gardening addiction).
Beyond the gate, things get a little Wonderland-y (my other favorite book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, of course). Aside from a nice jumble of flowers and vines and weeds, there are many Alice references tucked in here and there for anyone who is looking.