July 15, 2011

It's My Turn

In a post about my friend Jane's garden I asked her and my blog readers to consider what they like about their gardens.

Don't tell me about the neglected weeding and rampant failures and minor frustrations, tell me what delights you.  Jane was quick with her answer (the surprises of her quirky, meandering, wild, spilling garden).  Blog commenters also told me what they love in their gardens.

Now it's my turn.  What do I really like about my garden?  Its constant transformation.
in 2011 . . . and in 2004

There is an incredible feeling of time and change in the half acre that started out as a pasture, became a building construction site, and has been and is still transforming into a garden.  I never look at it without saying "wow, this used to be empty / flat / a twig / a pile of rubble.  Look at it now.  Look again in three years.  Wow." 
A simple row of bottlebrush buckeyes transforms itself in just a few years

Time.  Change.  Transformation.  It wasn't simply the evolution of a scene over time as natural things happened.  It was my own creation that abruptly changed the look and feel of this plot of land.  Nature helped, and nature conspired with me, and thwarted me when she felt like it too.
still working on this garden

I plant the ittiest bittiest saplings.  I have planted over 100 trees-to-be, many of them no more than 10 inches tall.  They are tiny, they struggle, they look pathetic, and then one day they are shady and leafy and they look like trees.  Small trees, but real trees.

plantings on a low berm have evolved

And then there is the seasonal transformation as dead-wet-cold New England spring gives way to summer.  Every time I go out in the garden on a dewy summer morning, I am struck by how it didn't look like this last evening when I went into the house and went to bed.  It didn't even hint it was going to look like this last month.  It threatened to never look like this, ever, last winter.

seasons of change

And when fall comes, the changes are heart stopping and alarming as colors explode.  Winter brings its own disorienting transformation, and it never ceases to amaze me:  it didn't look like this before.  Look at it now.  Look again in a few years.
Autumn alters everything

My too sunny lot will be too shady soon, and I will say: how did that happen?  It used to be empty / flat /  a twig / a pile of rubble.  It used to be unbearably sunny.  It changed.

The sense of transformation in my garden is what I love about it, and it is what I see every time I open the door or look out the window. From barren plot to garden, from sunny day to dewy morning, from twig to tree.  From season to season and back again, never the same.

a dewy transformation

It all changes, and it all changes all the time.


  1. The transformations have indeed been amazing. The before and after photos show us just how brilliantly you've created such a beautiful landscape on your property. I just love your Autumn shots. How fantastic it must be to see such seasonal changes.

  2. What a beautiful post, Laurrie! The transformation you have created in such a short time is simply amazing. No wonder it's what you love about your garden; you can be very proud of all that you have accomplished as well.

    We also moved to our house in 2004, but it wasn't a new house, and there were established trees here, though nothing else. I haven't accomplished nearly as much as you, but I agree it is the constant change that makes gardening such an exciting adventure.

  3. Laurrie, I too love this about your garden. Your before and after photos have been an incredible inspiration to me as I too plant tiny saplings hoping that one day they will provide shade.

  4. Your satisfaction and enthusiasm is contagious! Love, love, love the before and after shots. I bet you've made a few neighbors happy too as they get to enjoy the fruit of your labor.

  5. You have indeed created a garden to be proud of. I love seeing the before and afters.

  6. You've reminded me to think back to what my plot of earth looked like after the clearing/ destruction/ construction. The house looked like a box dropped into the middle of the forest by a helicopter. Like your plot, it's come a long way, baby!

  7. That's the magic of gardening, isn't it? Sometimes I wonder if blog readers will get bored looking at pictures of my garden, but I'll never tire of looking at it and it never looks the same.

    You've done a wonderful job transforming your 1/2 acre.

  8. Bernie, thanks. Our autumns really are spectacular here. But I'd love to have your winters!

    Rose, the changes don't have to be big and involve the whole landscape. Transformations can be rewarding when you see a small garden space you have created evolve.

    Marguerite, You and I are on the same odyssey to create big shady trees from tiny little saplings!

    Cat, the before and after shots are so incredible to me too... they really help me see the transformation over time.

    Lisa, thanks so much. I truly am proud of a lot of it.

    Joene, I like the image of a box dropped from a helicopter... such an inauspicious way to start a garden : )

    Sweetbay, I too am amazed that I never get bored looking at the same half acre all the time.

  9. So much work has been done in such a short time! I love the river birch berm.
    (did you get my message about the Hawthorn tree??)

  10. Sissy, thanks! I sent you an e-mail about deer and saplings. I hope you do plant a hawthorn, but keep it caged as a sapling. Deer will sample anything new in their world, even if they find out they don't like it... but by then you have a sampled, stripped, ruined sapling!

  11. How I envy you your sweep of land. and I love your tree plantings. It's always been a dream to have that kind of a back drop, but one that I never seem to be able to accomplish, partly because I don't often have the room and partly because trees take time to grow and we have never stayed in one place for very long.

  12. Now, see, I'd like to say something smart--like boy I like plant x, the way you mixed texture when you did y--but all you get from me is it's freaking gorgeous. You've performed a miracle, and in every season that echo carries through (most gardeners can't pull it off). You've done something similar to what I've done on my tiny 2,000 feet, and so I'm envious. Fantastic.

  13. Carol, the tree plantings have been the most amazing. They are by far the most transformative, much more so than the mixed borders. In just a few years they have made a difference.

    Benjamin, thanks so much. I'm not sure about a miracle though! I stopped over at the deep middle and looked at your garden evolution from 2006 to now -- you are right, it is so similar and your results are so transforming too. In fact I have a 6 inch deep creek bed that needs to look more like your 6 inch swale and I am thinking of stealing some ideas . . .

  14. My little dry stream bed from the rain chain is hardly visible past May, and I fear it may be a mosquit breeding gorund. But I've also seen some frogs hiding in there, and I know the birch and willow apreciate a more direct watering when it rains. All me ideas are copywrighted, by the way. :)

  15. You have a very beautiful garden here and I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to link in with some photos...either current or past (during the dormant seasons) to Flaunt Your Flowers on Friday with me. Many absolutely gorgeous gardens participate in this party, and yours would be a welcome visit for them all to make!
    I have enjoyed my visit here today... and I am happy to say I am your newest follower...I feel very lucky to have stumbled onto your blog today!
    happy gardening!
    ¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
    (¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.

  16. Benjamin, Ha! I'm still going to copy your little footbridge.

    Wendy, thanks. It's kind of fun to make wordy bloggers speechless : )

    Tootsie, Welcome! Thanks so much and I'm glad you're enjoying what you found here.

  17. What a lovely post Laurrie, so eloquently spoken. Obviously true love :)
    Angie of http://agardenamongsttheweeds.blogspot.com/

  18. Angie, thank you and welcome here. I do love my garden (most of the time).

  19. Laurrie,
    it's amazing to see all the before and after pictures and shows how hard you have worked.
    It's a very nice and interesting to see post but Laurrie, posting pictures showing snow? And that in July when most parts of the States are getting "fried" right now! LOL
    Gotta go and get me some ice cream!:)

  20. Paula Jo, the snow shot was for you Texans!


Sorry about requiring code verification -- I experimented with turning it off to make commenting easier, and I got too much spam. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and to type in silly codes. I appreciate hearing from you.