About ten years ago, my mom, Erika, bought a cosmetic fixer in a nice neighborhood. It was a dingy but spacious rambler with a good floor plan and tons of potential. She jumped in with both feet and lots of imagination and turned that sad house into a cheerful haven.
The yard was a parched wasteland of dead lawn punctuated by a few forlorn shrubs. Now it is lush and inviting. I love visiting Mom and seeing what is going on in her ever-changing garden.
Gardens really do change from season to season and from year to year – so gradually that it’s easy not to notice the changes until one day you take a good look and realize that something is just not working anymore.
This happened to Mom recently. One of her first garden improvements was in the front yard – using broken concrete and pea gravel to define the spaces around some of the existing shrubs and trees.
It was really just a quick and convenient way to use the broken concrete left over from a walkway improvement. Still it was charming when it was new.
But over time the broken concrete sank unevenly and the gravel was trampled and scattered. Certain plants took over while others were edged out. It wound up looking like this.
Not hideous by any means, but still not up to Mom’s standards.
Redefining the Space
Mom decided it was time to separate the area into two distinct planting beds. The bed around the base of the birch trees would be defined by a better retaining wall. Overgrown shrubs in the planting area opposite the birch trees would be trimmed or in some cases removed. To better define the two separate areas, grass would replace the gravel between them.
One thing that I really admire about Mom is that it never takes her long to decide on what she wants, and usually even less time to implement her plans. Work was soon underway.
The Beauty is in the Details
Mom was looking forward to planting annuals and perennials in the fresh flower bed under the birch trees. She would need shade-loving plants.
She decided on groundcover-type sedum around the outer perimeter so they would creep over the retaining wall and soften the look. Inside the sedum, pretty impatiens would bring summer color.
And in the middle, hostas and art would take center stage.
The result: A look that is manicured yet still romantic.
More on the Front Yard
Mom uses a rain barrel to water the potted plants on her front patio. But of course the look of an ordinary rain barrel simply would not do, especially near the front entrance. So she painted it to look like a large pottery urn.
A sweet vignette in the corner receives rain barrel water.
She installed a picket fence along the street side.
The front entrance originally consisted of just an uncovered cement stoop and the front door. Mom extended the roofline to create a beautiful covered porch.
I will be writing more about this improvement and others that give the exterior of Mom’s house an elegant new look.
The Side Garden
Are you wondering what happened to that white bench in the before photo? Well Mom painted it red to match the berries on the mountain ash tree and created a sweet little sitting area in the side garden.
The pathway was made using pavers that my brother, Dan, discarded during his own garden improvement project. Our family does not waste anything!
This is where Mom installed her elevated walkway lights.
Nearby, a deer keeps watch from a bed of creeping jenny.
The Back Garden
The most stunning transformation is in Mom’s back garden. Once unusable, it’s now a relaxing and beautiful extension of her home, with great indoor-outdoor flow. I will be sharing before and after photos in another post, but I will leave you with this photo of her gazebo. Enjoy!
Mom has many passions and talents, and writing is among them. She currently has two books available on Amazon: Year of the Angels, a touching historical fiction novel based on her childhood during WWII, and Cries from the Fifth Floor, a fun paranormal thriller/murder mystery.
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My other posts featuring Mom’s projects:
- Setting a Formal Table: Lessons from an English Manor House
- Fall Dinner Party: Setting a Festive Table
- Taking Walkway Lights to New Heights
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