The Stepchild Garden is actually quite small, being about a half acre, though I guess that might be considered big by some subdivision standards. In any case, it is as casual in design as the Big House garden is formal. One of my favorite features of the Stepchild is that fully half of it is shaded, which is a treat in the midst of an Atlanta summer; when the leaves start to fall, however, it's quite a different story.
Even with some help from Chuck and his leaf blower, I spent six hours in the Stepchild Garden today, and have only made it through about 75 percent of what needs to be cleaned up this weekend. I hate everything about gasoline leaf blowers, from the noise to the rattle-your-bones feeling to the horrible gasoline fumes; as a result, I spend much more time with my little electric blower or (better yet) a rake.
I did cave in this year, though, and get a chipper-shredder, mostly because it was a good deal and because I've never owned one. It is now my new favorite toy during leaf season. It is deafening loud and incredibly hard to maneuver around the back garden, but it makes short order of leaves that would otherwise be bagged or run over multiple times with the lawnmower to shred them. The plastic hose shown in this photo is about five feet long, and is a huge vaccuum tube, so the leaves can be sucked up, shredded, and blown right back out over the mulched areas. Pretty cool, huh?