The Garden

The Garden

We came home from France to the outline of a new garden with boulders placed along a dry creek bed and a limestone slab bridge inviting us to walk into the other two-thirds of the yard.  The first phase was completed in about two weeks.  Although beautiful, it was too sparsely planted for our garden aesthetic.  Every errand to Home Depot or Lowe’s was an excuse to buy a plant, and I reacquainted myself with all of the local nurseries. 

 We quickly realized that the remaining two thirds of the yard looked pitiful in comparison,, and we made the decision to form up the remaining beds, seating area, and plant the zoysia turf. Annie, the designer, had done such a good job of saving plants and transplanting to other areas that after we mulched, the garden was gorgeous. 

During the spring and summer, of 2007, we continued to refine and add literally a hundred plants.  I carved out a rose garden in a sunny spot and added more lilies, lavender, and species geraniums.  I designated a “wild garden” as a space where all those natives could be restless, spread, and move.  In the fall, we were asked to participate in the spring 2008 Wildflower Center garden tour.  After much discussion, we agreed.  To me, a garden is an intimate and personal space, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to share it with hundreds of people.  I also wasn’t confident that the garden was good enough for public scrutiny.

Daylilies, May, 2008

Daylilies, May, 2008

Panic set in! In order to avoid that fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach, I seized tour as an opportunity to convince David that we needed an appropriate garden entrance, and the front garden needed renovation, too.  For the next several months David said that I lived in “high fret” mode.  We called on Annie again.  Her stone mason added limestone bordered beds and a crushed granite seating area, echoing those in the back garden.  We designed and ordered a wrought iron gate to replace the wooden one. We purchased five brightly colored Adirondack chairs with new pillows and cushions, and I hand painted a wooden swing to match the fabric.  We added a hundred more plants again, weeded and weeded again, insured growth and bloom with both granular and foliar fertilizers, and mulched.  We fluffed and buffed every plant and blossom with the expert help of Denise at Sprouts Garden Services (  The garden was glorious for the May tour.  Over 400 people passed through our garden gate on Mothers’ Day.  The highest compliment was that many said it was a gardener’s garden and their favorite of those on the tour.

As small as it seems, my favorite of the new garden spaces is the skinny 5×15 foot garden entrance  between the house and cedar privacy fence.  It had been a throw away place.  Grass couldn’t grow  because of wear and shade.  It was a seldom used and boring passageway.  It is now a pleasurable seating area any season and any time of the day.  Crushed granite gravel, large limestone stepping stones, a wrought iron gate and park bench, and scattered small plantings were transformational.

From the tour brochure: 

The Garden

Although native plants grew happily, this backyard had limited functionality because of neglect and overgrowth of some species.  The homeowners had lost the battle against aggressive vines and unruly vegetation.  The objectives were to re-invite the Northingtons into the outdoor space; to create visual interest from inside the home and from the existing deck; and to provide a homeowner-maintained and dog-proof yard.  Beautiful, mature oaks set the stage for a dramatic, dry creek bed, constructed with native limestone boulders.  Generous patio slabs were laid to create a path leading from the deck, crossing the creek, and ending at an informal sitting area surrounded by garden. Across a lush zoysia lawn, a second decomposed granite area, nestled under an elm, created another destination and allowed the family to experience the garden from a different perspective. Garden beds were extended around these elements.  The backyard was completed in 2006.





  1. Phyllis said,

    June 23, 2009 at 8:31 AM

    To me, a garden needs to be the place you can visit, enjoy, unwind from the world’s challenges. Having noticed how Texans wall in their yards, your garden is an oasis from the outside world. What a wonderful place to sink into after a long day at work, or just to flop! It is private, friendly, and quiet, except for possibly two dogs.

    My new garden, which you supervised and helped plant, is “my space”. It is where I go early in the morning to look at, enjoy, and spend time maintaining it. I need time to myself to reflect and unwind, be creative. As a result, I am also now more aware of others gardens, their appeal, new species, and design. Life has definitely imrpoved for me because of my garden.

  2. gardenfences said,

    June 23, 2009 at 10:08 AM

    Gardens are restorative therapy for body, mind, and spirit.

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