Gardening at 60 West Main

Overgrown house

So remember when we first moved in and we had to cut back everything in the yard, by a lot?  I can refresh your memory by sharing some old photos of that late summer 3 years ago.  When we first looked at the house, the yard hadn’t been mowed. . . and then it was over mowed.  Everything in the mower’s path was shorn down to the wee bits of root.  But the vines attacking the east side of the house grew up onto the second story wall and chimney and covered part of the roof.  The back yard had a large overgrown raised bed and trumpet vine was (and still is) everywhere.  We spent most of our time in the house that first summer cutting things back and just piling at the curb.

Front porch before painting

Each summer since, we have continued to prune and pay attention to what is growing.  Apparently, our house used to have a fabulous garden and it is still evident.  There are mature quince, lilac and hydrangea.  The rhododendron are huge in front and the cypress border is overgrown.  There are small patches of flowers, that are coming back better every year now and I’m anxiously tending to them to see what comes up every spring.  Though I haven’t created any beds of my own until this summer, I’ve been quite pleased to see how a little pruning goes a long way.

First garden bed

First flower bed all grown

We had a great spring for cleaning out the yard and we were able to rake out a lot before the growth started.  In that time, I planned and prepared my first bed.  I pulled everything out over the course of a month of weekends and planted raspberries, french lavender and a small boxwood.  I trimmed back the Japanese quince that was already there and mulched everything.  Then I put in some ground cover flowers, lobelia and phlox, both purple.  So far the raspberries have grown magnificently and I’ve picked a handful this summer, even though they weren’t supposed to fruit until next year.  The ground flowers are weak, but the lavender is quite happy despite Will picking all the blossoms.

Since I worked on this bed, I’ve been planning and plotting what else to do.  For most of the garden, I’d like to plant self-maintaining flowers, fruits and even vegetables and ground cover.  We’ll see what I can learn and come up with.  I’ve moved some hosta out from under the immense trumpet vine in the back and planted it under a flowering tree out front where it will make a nice bed once it fills in.  In another few weeks, I’ll plant some bulbs for the next spring and then I’ll let it be.

West side of 60 West mainOn Bill’s end, he has a new trimmer and edger.  So he has happily kept the little grass we do have in a neat few squares in the front.  Weeds can look quite nice as ground cover if they are mowed and trimmed. 🙂  Eventually we will plant some real grass, but we don’t want to use chemicals on what is there.  And, we’re debating on how to replace the slate sidewalk out front that is desperately cracked and falling apart.  So, it might be a while on that front.  In the meantime, the beds and pruning will just have to do.

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What we’re working on now

Living Room with completed fireplace

As you can see, having a busy one year old has slowed down our progress.  Not only that, but we are a bit wearisome of plastering.  So, we are moving on to other things, smaller tidbits and outside work now that the weather is getting really nice. We finished up the light fixture and fireplace in the living room.  Bill had to rewire the light from its original 1890’s work and we polished it nicely.  I stenciled the ceiling and we hooked it up.  Next, Bill fitted cherry moulding onto the mantel to fit it around the pellet stove and put it into place.  All complete, whew.  The only thing needed now in there is floor refinishing.  We are looking into hiring someone to do the floors.  Not that we don’t want to do it ourselves, but we want it done really well and rather quickly with a little one.  It will be easiest to have them completed while we are on our winter vacation in December.  So, we’ll see.

I mentioned above that we have been aching to get to some outside work.  The past three summers at this house has seen us weeding, mowing, pruning and clipping desperately to get back to some sort of semblance of “trim”.  With over 15 years of almost no yard work outside, we’ve had a lot to combat.  This weekend, we started really digging into a flowerbed.  As this is the fourth summer we have lived at 60 West Main, we really want to plant a few things permanently, and I have been dying to have berries.  I love the idea of an edible, renewable garden, that attracts bees and butterflies.  Though I know little of gardening, I am starting somewhere to make this house beautiful on the outside and easier to maintain.  I started on a bed in the backyard, as it gets a lot of sun and I think it makes the most sense for edible plants.  Though the front yard needs work, too, I just needed to work somewhere that I walk past regularly.  And, I like to sit on the back porch in the evenings with Bill.  The whole yard will one day be a lovely garden, I’m sure.  Once the baby is up and ready, he will be outside with us, in a sandbox or pool, or digging for worms.  I look forward to doing that all together.  But honestly, a weekend with Bill in the yard was just what I needed.  You can see here how much we had to weed and de-rock.  And, there were a few wires to pull.  One wire goes under the entire yard to electrify the garage.  The other wire dead ended somewhere, but we believe it had originally lit a small raised bed that we pulled out at the beginning of the first summer.  I have a lot of weeds to pull out to complete this bed and a Japanese quince to trim, but I’m looking forward to planting raspberries and lavender here.  Possibly some flox and some bulbs of some sort, too.  We’ve been building a great compost pile for the past 2 years, so I’ll have some natural fertilizer.  Now the task will be to keep Heidi from digging.

First garden bed

Next on our list is to refinish some indoor furniture pieces and complete a set of bookshelves.  Really, the books are the only things standing in our way of putting a floor in the servants’ stair closet.  I’ll fill you in more on that project down the road.