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Friday, September 24, 2010

Yard Work

My apologies for the lack of posts lately. We have been working non-stop, to the point of exhaustion, on exterior projects trying to get as much done as we can before winter comes!

I would love to tell you that Dan and I "garden", but what we do is nothing that romantic.
We do yard work - plain and simple manual labor. In Dallas we started with a large baron, empty lot with one large Pecan in the back yard and two large Oaks in the front. We literally worked every inch of that yard, and with lots of blood, sweat and tears it became a park. My favorite compliment ever was during our last garage sale- our garage was in the rear of the house so the sale was set up on the parking pad. On the second day of the sale, three people came back to the house just to see the yard again! Two brought a friend or a spouse who wasn't with them the previous day and one just returned on her own. So, while the sale was going on others were taking a self-guided yard and garden tour!
The ultimate compliment in my book!

Unlike Dallas, where anything of beauty was man-made, here we get to rely more on Mother Nature! I would guess that in the end here we will only landscape about 10 percent of our property. We have had many projects on the planning board for months now, and all of the sudden they have all come to fruition within the last month! I feel like we have been on an episode of Extreme Makeover Landscape Edition! We know our limits, and now hire out the really big jobs, or the jobs we do not have the equipment for, but still do all the "yard work" ourselves!

the projects :

french drains (thousands spent and all you see in the end is some gravel- not fun!);
design, prep and plant a bed in the front of the house;
add fieldstones under the front porch;
lay an antique cobblestone walkway from the front porch to the-
new gravel driveway;
grade the yard around the house,
add sod;
add a cobblestone-edged gravel walkway from the side porch;
plant three sugar maples that were missing from our row of antique trees;
transplant existing plants to new locations.

It's been exhausting, but we do love it. While I adore interior design I think my true passion is in garden design and landscape. I think it's the permanency... that this sugar maple isn't going to be out of style in ten years!
Before I show you what we've been working on I thought I should show you "before" photos of the front of the house where most of the projects are happening!

This is the front of our house; it faces South.
The house is a soft white with black shutters, and black doors.
This photo was taken after the exciting french drains were installed- you can see the gravel that lines the granite block foundation in front of the basement window.
The room to the right of the front door (behind the antique yogurt pot purchased from Mark Sage/Love Train Antiques aka Bobo Intriguing Objects) is the formal dining room. This is where I will have the bed filled with shrubs, perennials, and annuals.

In the photo below, you can see that the walkway was gravel (it was originally just dirt when we moved in, but we added some gravel as a temporary fix for winter last year.) It spills out on to the crushed stone/bit of gravel driveway. The walkway from the front steps to the driveway will be antique cobblestones (originally from a street in a small Massachusetts's town.)

Here you can see several of the cobbles that were placed in front of the steps to sample the look! In this photo you can see the empty space under the front porch. The front porch sits on granite stone pillars, but then you see the dirt underneath.
From the very first time I set eyes on this house, my thought was it needed a fieldstone "skirt" under the porch! There will only be grass in front of the fieldstones- no plantings, as I want the stones to be the focal point.

The black front door. The porch floor is mahogany and has been left untreated to weather naturally to a soft gray. You can read about antique front porch light here. The wicker basket holds boots, towels for wiping puppy feet, puppy toys, and garden gloves. Antique iron urn is filled with white begonias.

You can really see the open under-porch in this photo. So unattractive.

While the front porch is small- the smallest of our three, it is the one we spend most of our time on! It is very cozy and is in the shade of a large maple.

Wicker chairs painted in my favorite olive drab.

Vintage iron and shard table found years ago at a Dallas estate sale. On top sits a white flowering plant in a small antique Chinese blue and white jardiniere. Candle sits in a base of mung beans which are the exact color of the chairs!

Iron birds in the corner, and Adirondack chairs in the front meadow in the distance.

The open under-porch... not pretty.


Antique cobblestones on the left for the walkway, and the fieldstones from our property on the right will be used for under the porch.

Progress post is next!


  1. What a delight! I can imagine in Fall your house would look wonderful surrounded by the flame of the maples.

    I gave up gardening a long time ago - not that I did it for very long - because I realized that though I liked gardens I did not like gardening. Mosquito-ridden and backbreaking work!

  2. Joan, you are living my dream.... hard work and all! Can't wait to see more. A-M xx

  3. hi joan,

    everything is just as i expected. gorgeous. when those stones are in it's going to be amazing. i love, love, love the front porch. the worst part of this whole post is that now i want my house white again. dang it.


  4. Love, love, love the cobbles! And since you have the white wood railings around the porch, the fieldstone is perfect for underneath. I think that will make a big difference and I can't wait to see how it looks. Are the maples turning?

  5. JOAN!!!
    It already looks so beautiful - gravel walkway and under porch as is! I can't even imagine how amazing it will look with the antique cobblestones.
    We have the same issue with out under porch but haven't done anything about it yet.
    The house, the new paint, the black door, wicker chairs, the distant meadow...it's all so very beautiful. So very beautiful and inviting.

  6. It's official. You are not doing yard work.

    Ya'll are, indeed, GARDENING!

    Can't wait to see more.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  7. Joan and Dan: Stunning! Very New England looking. Love it! Cindy

  8. I agree. Working on the yard has a different kind of reward than workng on the inside of the house.

  9. joan!!
    i can't decide which is my favorite...the iron birds, the black door or the antique light. the antique urn with begonias is also a contender.

    super post- love it (i will patiently await the cobbles and fieldstone)!

    hope you and dan can sleep in tomorrow, at least a bit before the work starts again!


  10. It all looks so beautiful!! Soooooooooooo you and Dan.


  11. Ewww, I can't wait to see the finished project! You're going to love having the cobblestone walkway and the fieldstone is going to look beautiful covering that dead spot under your porch and it'll keep critters out. Very excited for you!


  12. a little jealous of your beautiful outdoor space....what kind of temps are you having right now? just got back from a visit with my sis in CT and it was a crips 60 degrees or so. so wonderful!

  13. This is so beautiful! I love the black shutters, the porch, the house, the cobbles, the trees, the meadow. Oh I love everything!!!

  14. Your beautiful home took my breath away! Even the dirt under the porch is perfect. Happy Gardening, next year will come the fun stuff, like watching the flowers bloom. It is all so pretty, I wait for inside photos, if anything like the outside well, I may be passing out!

  15. Your home is stunning - I've always wanted a white house with black shutters and a big veranda. Your property is beautiful and your landscaping looks so great already - the cobblestones will just be a finishing touch :)

  16. Eh...It's ok, I guess.


    It is SO stunning, so timeless,so full of history and future all tied up with a beautiful satin ribbon!

    happy sigh.....

  17. Yep, I can totally relate to this. I would love to be able to do the 'prissy' stuff with flower beds, but all we ever seem to do is lug rocks, dig trenchs for retaining walls, hack fallen branches from the big trees etc. You are doing a mighty fine job of setting the framework for what will be a truly magical garden. Now pass the Deep Heat Gel & Voltarin, you're hogging it!
    Millie ^_^

  18. Joan the image you have created in my head is beautiful, I can't wait to see the after shots. Your home is so lovely. Its always so rewarding knowing you've done it yourself!!!

  19. Hi Joan, thank you for your comment on my blog, I am glad to hear that you appreciate the porch photo :-)
    Please show us in a couple of weeks some Indian Summer photo's :-)the Dutch New England fans are really looking forward!

  20. Can't wait to see the final reveal!

  21. Your esthetic is so welcome to me. I am in the process of building a log cabin in Charlottesville Virginia. Texture means everything. How much bark to leave on the logs. Should they be milled. What diameter logs will look best together. And stone: dry laid, mortared, cleaned, shaped. The stone mason wants to do it his way and no matter how often I correct him he backslides into small stones which are easy and which take more time to lay. He is being paid by the hour, big mistake on my part. He wants to hand scrub the stones instead of power wash - I wonder why, at $40 an hour!

    Your under-the-porch area is going to look so handsome and the subtle nature of the stone and cobble will be just terrific. Big gold star to you for keeping it simple. There is so much power in simplicity. Ann


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