Thursday, November 26, 2009

Renovations at the Big House

As I've mentioned before, the owners of the "big house garden" are really a pleasure to work for; I'm clear it's their home and garden, but we've developed a good rapport over the past few years, and they are usually receptive to suggestions for improvements to the garden.

Like many properties that were originally landscaped by the builder/architect, there are certain plants that were used to death (can you say "azalea" and "daylily"?), and many that were installed simply because they were available in large quantity at the time. The garden is obviously very beautiful, but there are few named cultivars, and lots of places where I'd like to see plants that are more "special." We are also finding that ten years later, there are certain plants that simply aren't appropriate anymore, such as the overgrown arborvitaes used as foundation plants.

Mr. & Mrs. gave the green light recently to making some needed improvements, and it is proving to be a lot of work, but also a lot of fun! The overall plan is to soften the house and garden, give it a sense of age, and also make it more reflective of their personalities.

A couple of weeks ago, we had Danny come in and cut down TEN arborvitaes that had been used as foundation plants. I happen to love arborvitae, but sadly they had planted in such a way that they were now dead on one side, tied to the house in a couple of cases, and growing up and over the gutters. I was nervous, since they were such a key part of the landscape design, but when they were removed, it was as if the sun came out from behind a cloud! The top photo shows how large they had gotten....this one arborvitae was covering TWO dining room windows!

In some places, we've been removing plants whose living conditions have changed. Ten years ago there were dozens of shrub roses installed, since the large trees were still fairly small. Over the years, we've reached the point at which the roses are largely shaded, and were blooming poorly, if at all. The middle photo used to be shrub roses; it's now "Setsusekka" Camellias (which will form a hedge to block the neighbor's driveway), fronted by "Pinky Winky" paniculata hydrangeas. They in turn are fronted by Ryan's Pink perennial chrysanthemum, and "By George," a daffodil that blooms in a coral pink and white.

In the bottom shot, we replaced another bank of shrub roses (this time red), with "Tardiva" hydrangea that we'll cut back every spring to control the size. These are underplanted with "Joan Senior" daylily (ivory), pale yellow and white Dutch hyacinth, and crocuses. I can't wait for spring!

1 comment:

  1. That would be a joy to work on this property. I am sure you feel that it is a lot yours as you have done a great job designing the landscape. The house gives you a great backdrop for the garden too. It all looks great.