We are doing something different today. Sunday night we got pizza for dinner and my husband surprised me with a slice of chocolate cake for dessert. Despite knowing what it would do to me, I ate the whole thing around 7:30pm. When I went to bed around 10pm I was not even remotely tired. I tossed around for half an hour and then started scrolling Pinterest. The chocolate and sugar were kicking in and I knew that if I did not put my mind to something then I would be spending the next 4 hours fidgeting and running down unlikely anxiety rabbit holes.
I have been thinking a lot about what kind of garden designs I want in our future forever home so I decided to let my mind run wild on this topic and see where it ended up. The end result was this fever-dream essay. It’s very personal to me and almost a bit uncomfortable to share, but it’s such a pretty vision I can’t keep it to myself. I can’t guarantee that this is what I’ll do, but I do promise it is the right direction. It’s written from the perspective of a guest arriving to our property for the first time.
The house will be surrounded with gardens and the like so that no mowing needs to be done near the house. The drive up to the house slowly reveals increasing levels of cultivation and beauty. When the trees open and reveal the open acreage in front of the house there are a few showstopper, ornamental trees such as redbud and dogwood, and black leafed plum.
When a guest arrives to the front of the house they are greeted with planted art (in any season), though all is not immediately revealed. There are paths everywhere inviting the guest in. Archways, trellises, and all sorts of vining plants create boundaries and boarders – food is found everywhere. The front garden is a cutting flower and fragrance garden which remains open to the front of the property. The front door is obvious and bright. One side of the house is flanked with impenetrable hydrangeas and limelight, but on the other side a curving path through large rhododendrons draws the guest around the side of the house.
Through a path of rhododendrons and perennial plants they are brought to the back of the home where they find the outdoor living spaces: the porch with a hammock, the fire put, the pool and lounge. A pergola covered in a perennial, flowering vine covers the porch area. The whole area has a tropical feel with a hardy banana and palm trees. Across the porch there is another path that draws the guest – this path is mulched, overgrown, and immediately feels softer and more feminine. The guest finds the other side of the home where there is a quiet medicinal herb garden where a birdbath and various bird feeders are spread about. Two Adirondack chairs are tucked against the limelight for optimal viewing and the guest follows a new pathway beyond the outdoor living space. This path leads to the food garden.
The food garden is a vast area bordered by various perennial berries with fruit trees anchoring the corners. Food, flowers, herbs, pollinators all grow here in an intentional design that leaves the guest surprised at each turn. It is an abundant garden. In the center of the garden is a small pavilion with a table and chairs where the gardener can rest from the summer heat. Each of the four gates is an arbor leading to another magical place on the property. One leads to the summer kitchen, the opposite leads to the greenhouse, potting shed, and chicken coop, the last leads out into the orchard pastures and wildflower meadows.
Turning back, the guest goes back to the rhododendron path and notices a gate they missed the first time. Beyond the gate they pass bleeding heart and hosta. Mountain laurel stands off in the corner. Shade loving flowers surround the area as the stone path curves to a swing, overgrown with climbing roses. A forgotten coffee mug and notebook sit on the swing giving the impression that this secret garden is someone’s private place. A thin dirt pathway between the roses and rhododendrons takes the guest the long way around to the driveway and they are back on the front again.
One day friends. My goal is to have a garden people want get married in, a show stopping property that people tour, a garden that give us 75-100% of our produce goods for a whole year. Maybe I’ll make it a bed and breakfast, haven’t decided yet, let’s see what happens.