Friday, June 16, 2017

Barn Garden Progress

When we last saw the 15' x 18' expansion of the Barn Garden earlier this week, I had marked it off and laid landscape fabric in the area.  

The next step was to add an edge.  In this case, salvaged 4x4 fence posts from our dwindling stash, cut to size and fastened with ground spikes.  They're not beautiful, but they do their job ... keeping the mulch IN and most of the creeping weeds OUT. 



The final step, in this part of the process, was to add a generous layer of mulch.



The combination of landscape fabric and mulch will block the light to the grass underneath, and most of it should die within the next few weeks.  By the time summer is waning and temperatures begin to cool, the area will be ready to plant.  What am I planting here, you ask?

Some of them are:

"Talcott Noisette" from cuttings at Hollywood Cemetery.


"Tutta's Noisette" from Rose Petals Nursery.


"Ryland Rose" from cuttings at Hollywood Cemetery.


"Lathrop Noisette" from cuttings at Hollywood Cemetery


"Woodbine Rose" from cuttings at a cemetery in Harrisonburg, Virginia.


"Isaacs Rose" from cuttings at Hollywood Cemetery


For now, these babies will continue to live safely in their little pots ... where I can give them a lot of attention, till the weather is favorable for them to live in the ground on their own.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Driving Past Our House, and Going Back in Time

As I was hunting for the satellite image on Google Maps that I used in yesterday's post, I got distracted by the street view of our property.  I can tell exactly when the photos were taken, based on the scene that they show ... late October, 2012.

Our neighbor's property was for sale.  Wonderful new neighbors have been here for three years now.


I don't recognize this car.


That pile of stuff underneath the tarp is the freshly-cut slabs of our fallen oak tree.  THIS post shows how it was done by the sawmill crew.


Their equipment tore the yard up a bit, but not too badly.


This was right before I closed my retail nursery.  The sign was still up.






Next stop, Hartwood Winery next door.  That's their driveway on the right.


I'm such a junkie when it comes to reference and archived material.  I have to handle Google Maps carefully, otherwise I could get lost for days searching addresses and wandering far-off streets.

Have you played on Google Maps and checked out your house?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Expanding the Barn Garden

The Barn Garden (formerly known as the English Garden) was designed and installed in 2010.  Originally, it held only my collection of David Austin English roses.  Over time, some of the Austin roses showed that they are ill suited to life in hot, humid Virginia, and I replaced them with Noisettes. 

One spot adjacent to the garden has always been difficult to maintain.  It's a small area (15' x 18'), with a well head (no power to the well, but there's water in there), an inside corner, and a big pile of rocks.  I need more space for roses, my husband things to be as easy as possible on him when he mows, and we decided that the best way to accomplish both of these objectives would be to clear this spot and make it part of the garden.

This is how it looks from space, courtesy of the folks at Google.


2010, as my husband was helping mulch the newly-planted baby English roses.  Original plant list is HERE.


2014.  Updated plant list at that time is in THIS post.


This garden expansion was easy to accomplish.  I marked the area with string, spray-painted the lines on the ground, and got to work laying ground cloth for the extended path and landscape fabric where the new planting area would be.



Then it was a simple matter of unrolling and stapling more rows of landscape fabric into place.





Laying landscape fabric like this feels like I'm upholstering the yard ... as I unroll it and hammer ground staples to hold it in place, and cut around obstacles like the well head.



After a couple of hours, I was finished.  



Next step is to cut and install 4x4 timbers around the edges of the new bed and to add mulch.  Mulch is very important, because it blocks the sunlight and kills the grass underneath the landscape fabric.  Later this summer, when the worst of the heat is behind us, I can plant the new roses.  Mostly Noisettes, I think ... no surprise.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pieces Parts for the Porch

While my husband and I were in Richmond yesterday, we made an impulse stop at this wonderful place ...



Governor's Antiques is a HUGE architectural salvage yard.  We went there to see if we could find some inspiration for the renovation of our front porch.

Those of you who have been with me for any time at all may remember that our porch is structurally sound (after being rebuilt in 2005) but completely without any sort of pretty stuff.  Designing the details, with no evidence of what may have been there when our house was built in 1848, has been challenging.  I have planned and plotted, and reworked the design many times, and nothing has seemed to be exactly right.



We went to Governor's specifically to find a corbel or porch bracket that we can use as a pattern.  As luck would have it, the staff there had just finished moving the whole stock of corbels to an inside area, perfectly organized.



All of these are fabulous, but almost every one is WAY too large for our porch.  We weighed our options and came up with two possibilities:

I like the simple curve of this one, and the size is perfect.


This one is also nearly perfect.


We plan to make our own corbels, incorporating elements from our home's original trim, which is long gone.  

The gingerbread trim, on the eaves and above the porch and bay windows, is the original.  The porch columns and railings are not.  There is no evidence of what the original porch may have looked like.


The bat-wing-looking motif is very common in Gothic Revival decoration.  The second bracket from Governor's could easily be modified to have a cut-out that looks something like this one:

photo from Pinterest.


Our visit to Governor's helped us clarify our design for the porch brackets, but it seriously muddied the plan for the porch posts.  I have been working with the idea of square columns, with chamfered corners, boxed on the bottom, with stacked moldings at the top.  One of the posts in this pile, I'm not telling you which one, has the potential to destroy all of that planning ... in a VERY good way.

I saw three of them, and we need four.  I will let you know if the young lady at Governor's succeeds in her search for another one.


We bought the brackets that I showed you.  Either design will be great inspiration for whatever there is to come with the porch.  Seems like this is a never-ending process, with SO many choices.  Our goal is to be finished with it by the end of summer.  Wish us luck.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

After the Conference: Easing Back into Life

Hi, Everyone.  I have missed you.  My normal life was completely buried by the planning and execution of the Heritage Rose Foundation conference, and it's going to take me a while to ease back into whatever life and routine I had before.

I would love to do a full report on the conference, with tons of photos and insights, but I can't.  I took very few photos over the course of the three days, as I was concentrating on making sure that each event kept to the schedule and went as planned.  All I can really do now is breathe a big sigh of relief and move on.



I can share this photo that my friend Jill took of me on a garden visit after the conference was over.  I love how it captures me in my natural habitat, concentrating on framing a perfect image with my phone.  So typical!

I hope that I will soon catch up with everyone.  Thanks for sticking around ... for checking on me ... and for being here.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Heritage Rose Foundation Conference, Next Month

One month from today, rose lovers from all over the US (and at least a couple of foreign countries) will spend three rose-filled days in Fredericksburg, Virginia, for the 2017 Heritage Rose Foundation Conference.  



It's not too late for you to plan to join us.  Let me show you what we are going to do.

The conference will begin on Thursday, May 18, with an optional pre-conference bus trip to Charlottesville to visit the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants at Tufton Farm, home of the Leonie Bell Noisette Garden, and to tour the gardens and mansion at Monticello, home of President Thomas Jefferson.  Lunch is included.

"Bremo Musk" in the Leonie Bell Noisette Garden.


Friday, May 19, we will enjoy a day of presentations at Belmont, Gari Melchers' home and studio in Falmouth, Virginia.  Continental breakfast, buffet lunch, and tours of the mansion and garden are included.

'Tausendschoen' in the garden at Belmont.


I am very excited to have put together this slate of speakers:

Benjamin Whitacre, who paired a fascination with ancient texts and roses as a college student in Williamsburg, Virginia, before spending a year at the Arnold Arboretum researching Harvard's historic rose experiments.  He has also worked with roses at Mount Auburn Cemetery, the American Horticultural Society, and at Monticello.

Beate Ankjaer-Jensen, who has served as Cultural Resource Manager at Gari Melchers Home and Studio since 1999.  She led the research and restoration of the gardens and historic buildings, and directed the creation of native grassland meadows and trails that interpret the cultural and natural recources on the 29-acre estate.

Scott Dean, who became interested in roses at age 5, when his father entered a rose in his name in the youth class in a rose show.  He combines his hobby of studying the Middle Ages, as a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, with his interest in roses, researching the rose varieties grown in Europe prior to the year 1600.

Mike Shoup, who opened the Antique Rose Emporium in 1984, with the goal of creating a resurgence in the preservation of rare and beautiful roses.  Specializing in the re-introduction and distribution of historic roses, the retail center has theme gardens that show the versitility of antique roses in garden settings.  Mike is a past president of the Heritage Rose Foundation, and the author of three books and numerous national articles on the subject of using Old Garden Roses in today's gardens.

Saturday, May 20, we begin with a bus tour to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond to learn about the history of this 19th Century garden cemetery and its roses.  Goth Gardener and I are writing a new tour especially for this event.  As part of the day's activities, we will be replanting three lost roses to their original locations!  Lunch is included.

One of the roses that we will replant is 'Safrano' on the Waller lot in Section Q near Presidents Circle.


Saturday evening is the part of the conference that I'm most excited about ... a buffet barbecue dinner under a big tent in my garden here at Hartwood Manor!  My roses should be in full bloom for the guests, and I have been working SO hard to make everything look its best.  Roses will be available for sale.  A Heritage Rose Foundation banquet would be incomplete without the star attraction of the evening, Stephen Scanniello, president of HRF, acting as auctioneer for a wonderful assortment of rare roses and rose items ... including an oil painting donated by my very talented artist husband.

'Shailer's Provence' in the Fence Border, at Hartwood Manor ... home sweet home.


Registration fee is $210.  This all includes activities on Friday and Saturday, including lectures, tours, and meals, as noted.  An additional $85 fee is required for Thursday's optional tour to Charlottesville.  We also offer registration for individual activities, for folks who have scheduling conflicts and cannot attend the entire conference. (If you can only come to one thing, the banquet is the one that I recommend.  It's going to be so much FUN!!)

Edited to say:  Registration is closed, because this event is now history .. and it was FABULOUS.  You should have been here!)

I am coordinating this event with a little bit of help, but not much, and it has required an ever-increasing amount of my time and thought processes.  Folks who are coming have told me that they are very excited to come see the world of roses that we have here in Virginia ... and I am over-the-moon delighted to be their hostess.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Carpenter Gothic

It's not unusual for me to be looking for a particular thing, whether online or elsewhere, and have my attention drawn to something completely different.  I'm curious and that curiosity leads me in many different directions.  (When I was a kid, I would easily get drawn off task while looking up words in the dictionary, as interesting other words caught my attention.   Ten minutes later .... what was that word I was originally here to look up?)

Something like this happened to me last week, as I was surfing Pinterest looking for Gothic Revival house images.  Whenever possible I visit the original page from which an image was pinned, instead of repinning directly from the Pinterest image.  On one of those pages, I saw a reference to this book:

Carpenter Gothic, 19th-Century Ornamented Houses of New England (1978)


Carpenter Gothic.  That's the original style of our house.  It was built in 1848 by a couple who had moved here from Connecticut, introducing the Gothic style to this area for the first time.  In the case of our house, it's Carpenter and Gothic were removed in the 1960s.)  A book about Gothic houses in New England got me really excited!

Earliest image of our house that I have seen, from 1933, when the place was already 85 years old.


I'm completely unable to resist the temptation of books, especially garden and architecture books.  All it took was a few clicks, a credit card number, and the book in question was on its way to me.  (I love shopping for used books online.  This one was $4.10 from a dealer on Abe Books, with free shipping, and it arrived in four days.)

As I sat down to read my new treasure on the evening of the day that it arrived, I was struck by to a sentence in the Foreward written by Charles Moore.




We live ourselves in an exciting time, when the past is coming again to be seen, not as a dead hand on our own creativity, but as an exhilarating source and stimulus, a connection that gives us strength and an enhanced freedom to make buildings that speak in many tongues, heresiarchs, and gigglers, to excite people of many moods and attitudes and concerns, to make concrete and stimulate our dreams.


This one sentence, a really LONG sentence, puts words to my attitude about the way that I try to handle the restoration and renovation of this place of ours ... to not be a slave to a particular style or time, to allow it to evolve while respecting its origins, and to give it a story and a voice in the present. 

*************************
All of this began because I was looking for images on Pinterest to help with the last few little details in the design of the new gingerbread trim for our front porch ... which is completely different than any of the other designs that I have put forth to you in past posts.  I love what we have come up with, but I won't show it to you until we have a final version of the design that's been approved by the county Architectural Review Board ... don't want to jinx it, I hope you understand.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Name is Connie, and I Hoard Sinks

I thought I had this tendency under control ... the overwhelming inability to resist the lure of an awesome sink.  It's been years since I added one to my stash.  Perhaps it was the stress of having too much going on at once lately, or maybe I underestimate the depth of my problem ... but, whatever, yesterday I caved.



This was the listing photo in the Craigslist ad.  "Sink (cast iron) $50".  It is exactly the type of sink that I was looking for when we were planning the renovation of our basement bathroom.  (My husband balked at the utilitarian look of this type of sink, and we ended up with a sink/vanity combination that is a lot more civilized.  It looks lovely, but my heart still ached to have a sink like this.)  The seller assured me that almost all of the discoloration in the photo was dirt and gunk.

I made arrangements to meet yesterday afternoon to see the sink in person.  When I called to say that I was on my way over, the seller was on his way out and only had a minute to wait.  City traffic, and one minor wrong turn, and I was late.  Seller called to tell me that he had to go.  He left the sink on the curb and said that I could just have it if I wanted it.  (I should have taken a picture of it sitting on the curb, but I didn't.)



Cast iron sinks are heavy ... way too heavy for me to move by myself.  At that moment, a helpful-looking college-aged lad walked by.  Turns out that he WAS very helpful. 

When I got home, I gave the sink a not-so-quick cleaning with an abrasive pad and some cleanser.  Hard-water deposits were scraped off with a single-edged razor blade.  There's still a lot left to do to get the bottom of the sink clean and relatively stain free, but I can see that it's going to be just fine.



Where am I going to use this new sink, you ask?  I have no earthly idea.  We already have the aforementioned nice sink in the basement bathroom.  None of our three remaining still-to-be-remodeled bathrooms are appropriate for something like this.  Maybe the laundry room, but we installed a new sink in there last year, and I'm not removing it just to have a place to use this one.  The redo of our Shack is a possibility, but I already have an awesome 42" vintage drainboard sink stashed away to use for that. 

It doesn't matter, really.  Eventually the perfect use for this sink will become apparent.  Until then, it will rest safely in our garage ... keeping company with rest of my hoarder's stash of sinks in there.

(If you want to see the post from 2010 about the final reveal of our basement bathroom renovation, click HERE.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Life, on a Bracelet

My friend, Goth Gardener, did a post yesterday about National Jewelry Day.  This reminded me that I had my own jewelry post in mind, to use a photo that I've had queued up in my photo file for a while.  This photo:



Modern charm bracelets are a big trend now ... mine is old-school, with charms that represent things that are important to me, collected over the years.  Let's take a minute to get to know me better, via the charms on my bracelet, starting at the top and working our way counter-clockwise.

Watering Can ... for my love of gardening.  Gardening used to be my hobby, then it became a profession, and now it is my way of life.

US Capital ... because I live near there.

Four-poster Bed ... represents the love of my life ... married to him for 37 years, come July.  

Baby Carriage ... for our three now-grown daughters.

Squirrel ... my spirit animal.  Squirrels gather things, lose them, and are awfully cute.

Leaning Tower of Pisa ... I lived near Pisa when I was in elementary school.

Camera ... self explanatory.  For as long as I can remember, I have loved to take photographs.

Heidelberg Castle and Coat of Arms.  I consider Heidelberg to be my second adopted home town.  Lived there for three years in the late 1970s.  It holds a very special place in my heart.

Perkeo ... famous Heidelberg character.

Windmill ... souvenir from a trip to the Netherlands.

Beer stein ... another Heidelberg memento.

Computer.  Computers have been a part of my life since I was a child, because my dad was a computer guy, and so is my husband.  With the introduction of public access to the Internet, and all its opportunities to connect with people all over the world, the computer has made my life so much richer.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kitchen: A Brief Before and After

Everything that we have restored and renovated in our old house has been planned to follow the original 1848 design as much as possible (with allowances made for modern life) and to use every scrap of original material that we can ... the exception to this is our kitchen renovation.  The kitchen is in the Manor's 1967 addition, and it was 1967 to the extreme (and in desperate need of repair).  I knew from first glance, during our initial real estate showing, that we would replace and modernize it.

In 2005, the plan came together, the old kitchen was removed, and the new kitchen was born.

First job was to remove most of the wall between the kitchen and dining room.  I would NEVER have done this if the wall was 1848 construction.  I owe the most respect possible to the original part of this house, and I renovate the 1967 part of the house to complement 1848 as much as I can.  ('After' photos are unstaged and were taken this morning, 3/12/17.  'Before' photos show the kitchen shortly before we dismantled it in 2005.)





The footprint of the kitchen itself remained the same.  Layout, for the most part, was good.  (Here is a floor plan to help you get your bearings.)



Only the range and microwave are out in plain sight.  Everything else is mostly hidden.

Trash and recycling are in a pull-out on the right of the range.




The old kitchen was cramped and dark.  Not anymore!

Do you see the dishwasher?




The only appliance that we moved was the refrigerator.  This gave us the opportunity to wrap the awkward outside-corner wall with cabinetry and to open up what had been a really cramped area ... with the sink, dishwasher, back door, and refrigerator all competing for space in a tiny triangle.

The white donut-looking thing on the floor is an a/c vent.




With the refrigerator out of the way, we now have this L-shaped run of cabinets and counters.





The whole kitchen was designed around this refrigerator ... 48" Subzero with custom faux-icebox panels and hardware.  Sometimes, newcomers ask, "Where's your refrigerator?"  It blends in THAT well!





This kitchen wasn't cheap, but it has turned out to be worth every $$$, because I love it even more now than I did when we built it 12 years ago.  I like to think that the house loves it, too.
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