Friday, February 24, 2017

Believe it or Not-I'm Attending the Garden Blogger's Fling!

I know.  Can you believe it?  If you're wondering what kind of standards could possibly exist that would allow the likes of me to attend a garden blogger event, you're not alone.  Whatever radar I managed to fly under is just fine though because I get to hang out for four days in a bunch of kick ass gardens with the some of the rock stars of the garden blogging world.  So I ask you, "Who lives better than me?".

Rumor has it there a still a couple of open spots for the fling.  If you haven't registered, what are you waiting for?


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Patio Plans in the Making

Last year I missed the entire spring and most of the summer garden season due to my move.  At the time I was too busy to dwell much on what I left behind at my old garden, but once the dust of the crappy soil in my new garden settled, I realized what I missed most was my patio.

After all I moved hundreds of plants, all the garden ornaments, patio furniture and both of my fountains.  I moved just about everything but the patio.  Well, and all of my unusual specimen shrubs and trees that were too big to dig but those I can replant.

At the new house, I inherited a small deck and a couple of acres of overgrown gardens and scraggly lawn, but no patio.  For the entire summer and fall my former patio fountain lay sadly scattered in pieces on the driveway and along the side yard.  I arranged the patio table and lounge chairs on the back lawn in the approximate area of a new patio.  Not only did they look sad but became annoying obstacles for the lawn mower.

Just after the holidays I contacted a landscape designer who I had been stalking on Houzz, Jennifer Noyes of Creative Contour Landscape Design.  In January Jennifer came to the house for a design consultation.  A few weeks after our initial meeting she came back with a design concept.  Could the patio of my dreams actually be within reach?

Current view of the back of our house.  Yes, the deck needs TLC but it is level.

Proposed view from approximately the same angle.

For most of my life I've been longer on ideas than cash so the end result may be a bit less grand than what you see here but with some sweat equity I believe we'll get what we want.  Blue stone is my first choice for material and the most expensive and I'm not ready to compromise on that front yet. Also, I don't need design help with plant placement or selection.  The plants illustrated in the design would likely be far different than the end result.

In this design view, a double window has been replaced with french doors.  The new doors would enter into the breakfast area of our kitchen.  Swapping out that window was an eventual change we had been tossing around in conjunction with a kitchen remodel but figured it would be a few years down the road.

Once I saw the way the patio design came together with the addition of the door, we reshuffled the priority list.  Fortunately my other half is extremely talented in most areas of home improvement and will install the door this summer.

A precast fireplace would replace the fire pit and we'll be relocating the grill from the deck to somewhere near the new french door.

Current view of the breezeway

Proposed integration of the breezeway and patio

The garage is attached to the house by a breezeway.  Currently the breezeway is unfinished space. Originally we envisioned the main access to the patio to be through the breezeway.  Now that the decision has been made to install french doors in the kitchen, that will no longer be the case.  The breezeway will be finished as an unheated screen porch.  The proposed window on left wall is also part of the eventual kitchen upgrade and when completed will flood the kitchen with much needed morning light.

Before the patio is installed, the door from the breezeway will be relocated to the middle and will be swapped out for something more weather tight and secure.  I would prefer to narrow the steps and patio space here to provide for larger planting beds in this south facing alcove.  A protected spot like this may be my only hope of ever growing a crepe myrtle or Musa basjoo here.  What was I thinking when I moved from zone 6 to zone 5?

Access from the patio around the back of the house to the driveway is likely going to have to wait or be scaled back to stepping stones to keep the budget in line.  The pergola isn't a feature we're wild about.  Incorporating my old fountain is important since it was such a focal point on my old patio.  Naturally, dining and entertaining space is high on the list as we enjoy outdoor eating, drinking and general merrymaking on a regular basis.

From this perspective, you can look back into the proposed patio space.  Due to budgetary constraints this part of the design will be scaled back.  I think we can DIY this area to my satisfaction and have enough money left over to fund a lifetime supply of ibuprofen.

Due to Jennifer's schedule, late summer would be the earliest she could start work.  I'd like it to be sooner, but we still have so much to do in advance of the installation and as industrious as we tend to be, things like work and life often get in the way.  But this is a start.