With patio season quickly coming to a close, I thought it would be fun to take a trip back in time. Back to the days when the patio and backyard gardens at my house were non existent.
My house was built in 1941 but I've only owned it since 1995. During the home inspection I took a series of pictures of both the inside and outside of the house. Over the years those pictures have occasionally come in handy and have been fun to peruse. I think you'll agree that the change has been dramatic.
|The back of my house in August 1995|
|The driveway and west side of my house in August 1995|
For the first seven years I developed gardens in the front and side yards. Believe it or not but at the time I really wasn't much into gardening. I started by removing the sod around the lamppost to plant a few annuals. Then I removed sod from around a shrub or a tree. Then I connected the areas by creating pleasantly curving beds. What fun! Before long, turf grass became accent plant.
Throughout these years, the back yard remained untouched except to install some fencing to contain the dogs. Due to the placement of the attached garage, the only direct access to the backyard from the house was through the screen porch. In the spring of 2003, the house underwent extensive renovations to what was a dark cramped kitchen. Walls were removed and the attached garage was converted to a breakfast room extension of the kitchen. Finally, the back of my house was open to the outside!
|My garage in March 2003|
The main goal I had for this particular part of the renovation was that a visitor who had never been to my house would never know that the breakfast room had once been a garage. From looking at this recent picture, what do you think? So far I've yet to find anyone who believes this walkway used to be a driveway and the back room of the house had been a garage.
But back to the patio...Fast forward to spring 2004. A new free standing two car garage had been built behind the house in the fall and winter. A photo album of that project can be viewed HERE. It was time to create the backyard space I had been envisioning for many years. After the dust settled, this is what I was left with as a starting point.
The patio contractor had also done the stone facing on the new addition. Impressed by his attention to detail and work ethic, he was also contracted to build a 75 foot stone retaining wall along the new driveway and rebuild the chimney from the roof up in addition to the patio. From the spring of 2003 and continuing into the spring of 2005, nobody could accuse me of not doing my part to stimulate the economy..
Next the fence contractors arrived. In addition to the privacy and aesthetic benefits, my dogs (at the time there were two) are the nosiest creatures on the planet and require a secure boundary. By the time all the contractors were finished, I was left with a compacted clay mess that doubled as a graveyard for large chunks of shale in the areas that were slated to become lush gardens.
After a failed attempt to use a rototiller, in the fall of 2004 I resorted to hand digging this area with a garden fork. One extruded disc and a ruined ski vacation in Banff later, I decided to order a truckload of compost and raise the grade. That was the best decision I could have made. Occasionally if I need to dig a deep hole in these gardens I have to punch through the clay layer or extract a bucket load of shale but building up was definitely the way to go.
|Same fence area a few months later in summer 2005|
|A privacy fence was also installed along the property line. I am the last house on a cul-de-sac and only have neighbors on one side.|
|Patio September 2005|
|Patio August 2012|
|Back to the beginning-the back of the house October 2012|
When I look at this series of before and after pictures, I'm of course amazed at the transformation. But what amazes me the most is how close the finished garden areas are to the vision I had through the early years of home ownership back to 1995. It took a while to get here but as far as I'm concerned it was well worth the trip.
Well, there went my morning . . . I am so intrigued with these pictures of transformation that my coffee has gone cold and I have been fixed to my computer for ages. I do love a before and after post, and yours is awesome.ReplyDelete
The stone facing and red color of your house are perfect. Such a cute cottage look for what had been a small pre-war bungalow. Love it! And the garage, retaining wall the patio / garden space are beautifully integrated. I really like how the garage nestles into the back of the property now, looking like a barn, and you have a little journey through gardens to get there.
(Having moved into a recently built house, I know that raising the garden with compost over the construction debris graveyard was the way to go)
You need to submit this post to a home magazine. Yours is one of the best I have seen!! (may need to know your contractor's name at some point and whether he works in Bloomfield)
I loved this post and agree with you --- well worth it and a great execution of a carefully planned vision. I can picture having coffee in that breakfast nook, and would never suspect it was the garage before : )
Thank you for your kind words Laurrie. I did have a broad idea of what I wanted to do with the outside areas of the house but they developed over time. Now I know why design people tell you to live in a house for a while before making major changes. Well designed and built hardscapes are so important in the overall scheme of things. The mason we used was from the south end of Hartford. A young kid taking over his father's business.Delete
Occasionally I toy with the idea of moving because for a variety of reasons I'm not overjoyed with the location of this house. However, I'm too attached to the garden, at least for now.
WOW! I am at a loss for words, the transition is amazing. Nobody can ever accuse you of not having vision. Beautiful! I agree with Laurrie, this needs to be a "before and after" in print. You could inspire so many!ReplyDelete
Thanks Loree. The before and after post you did about a month ago was my inspiration.Delete
Sue, this is an incredible, beautiful, awe-inspiring transformation of home and land. What a vision. What execution.ReplyDelete
Thanks Lee. It had been a while since I looked at the pictures so I figured it would be fun to dust them off one more time.Delete
WOW! WOW! WOW!! Your gardens are amazing!! LOVE them! The before/after shots really bring it all into perspective. Fabulous job!ReplyDelete
Thanks! I highly recommend documenting all projects with pictures. You never know when they might come in handy :).Delete
I tracked you from Loree's post on my Hellstrip today. My husband is from CT, North Branford, and he has a brother in Torrington and sister in Branford. Such a gorgeous state, with an amazing growing climate, and all that history. A couple years ago we were at a family wedding in Thompson, and took the opportunity to visit Logee's Nursery in Danielson. Pretty dang cool.
Hi Patricia-Thanks for stopping by! I love the hell strip gardening idea. In July I was out your way with a group of garden friends and we actually descended on Loree for a tour of her garden then walked through the neighborhood to lunch. I was impressed by how many gardens there were to enjoy just on the short walk.Delete
Yes, Logees is a cool place to visit. Usually I go in the dead of winter just to get a greenhouse fix :).
I can't remember when we first 'met' on those old garden forums, but I do recall following your home's various transitions over time before we ever met in person. It has been a truly exciting journey, though not without its struggles! Your sense of humor about the various pitfalls is definitely a model to follow! And what a sensational paradise your hard work has created! It leaves me wondering "what next?" I can't imagine you stopping now....ReplyDelete
I've actaully been taking some of the gardens out of the front yard. The plan is to make part of the property look a bit more "mainstream" in the event I might want to sell but honestly I just couldn't keep up with it all anymore. Most of my gardening effort is now focused on the patio, back and side gardens.Delete
What a perfectly splendid post Sue ! I remember well your garage documentation, but I don't recall ever seeing the house remodel pics before..what a fabu fabu transformation !ReplyDelete
Congratulations, Sue. The transformation of your house and property are mind-blowing. It is gorgeous now. Big pay-off for lots of work.ReplyDelete
Sunning! It's amazing that you did all of that in a relatively short time while "not being into gardening." Yowsa!ReplyDelete
Well...it was only in the beginning that I wasn't really into gardening. After the first or second season I was hooked.Delete
Very interesting read Sue. The transformation is incredible. It was nice to get a better idea of the layout of your house and garage.ReplyDelete
The transformation is amazing. The changes to the house are very nice and you would never know it was a garage. It was nice to see some wider views of your property to be able to see how it is laid out. Of course the gardens are the best part!ReplyDelete
So fabulous! it is amazing what the vision and hard work of a creative person can accomplish.ReplyDelete
WOW no words for all this vision and hard workReplyDelete
Wow ....that's alot of work. I remember building a stone patio and scouring blast zones of highway projects for the blown up bits (20lbs+)for the many rock walls. I dragged them up the hillsides,into the truck, out of the truck, all over the yard. Stacked them, unstacked them. I was never in such good shape. Your probably addicted now, what are you going to do next?ReplyDelete
Well, I can't take credit for building the patio-a very talented stone mason was responsible for that. I have built scrap rock walls and walkways though. Stone work can beat you up. My current garden project is just a renovation of the front yard. Much of it is still under consideration :). Thanks for visiting.Delete
Truly the home of a master gardener, Sue!ReplyDelete