I once had a lovely McMansion in Mount Airy, MD. When we built it, we were flush with cash from stock options as the result of a high-tech buyout. We carefully chose the lot and the floor plans, made sure we had just enough but not too much space. It was settled so that our heads would point north at night. I counted the doors and windows to be sure the Feng Shui was just so.
It was built with a wrap-around porch that caught the breeze. Along the porch were white columns that I would wrap like candy canes with red ribbon at Christmas. We had a porch swing on the side and would enjoy sitting in the breeze in the evening or on a warm day. Our house had pale beige siding and dark blue shutters. Our master bedroom's sitting room was over the garage, and it was by far my favorite part of the house. Our huge bathroom was my second favorite. The sitting room turned into our gathering spot, though. My hubby and I would sit in our recliners, reading or doing a project, watching TV. The kids would come in and sit. The animals would follow.
The family room and entry way were both 2-stories high, split by a catwalk that ran from the kids rooms to ours. The formal areas bracketed the entryway, and my library was off of the family room. It was neat and warm, laid in with dark green carpeting and cherry furnishings. I wrote my two books there. The kitchen was large and airy, well-equipped. I did a lot of baking there. We entertained there. My mom never got to visit, because during that time she was too sick, but she would have loved that kitchen.
From my sitting room window, I could see my garden, my pride and joy. The back yard was large and fenced, a place for the dogs to run, but my front yard was my canvas. In the front right corner, which was on a quiet street corner, we laid out an asymmetrical rock surround under a tree. Inside it we planted bright orange Asiatic lilies, mixed in with annuals, to fill in the rest of the season. Along the porch were azaleas and other "builder grade" shrubs. My daughter was working at a nursery and brought home red and write geraniums for Mother's Day. She planted them around the edges of the shrubs to add interest. It was one of the best presents I've ever gotten.
I also took a patch of uninteresting shrubbery and mulch off the short side of the porch and turned it into a small English garden: Russian sage, lavendar, blue ornamental grass, some daffodils, and a climbing rose in the back. It was messy but interesting. The aroma was heady. I took this photo during one of the blooming seasons, before the ornamental grass had quite filled in.
On the other side of the driveway from this garden, I had a larger garden, surrounded with the same kind of stone we used on the other corner of the lot. We had a pallet of stone delivered and a lot of mulch and soil. We worked tirelessly to build our garden, a plant at a time. More Russian sage and lavendar standing over a floor of dragon's blood. Rose bushes showing off their blooms in the summer, full heads of soft petals. Pansies laughing at the foot of them all. In the rear of the garden, in the shady area, squatted some hostas of several varieties.
Soon, it was a showplace that occupied me with weeding each weekend. People walking their babies or taking a stroll in the neighborhood would stop and admire the gardens, asking me questions about the different plants. I offered people cuttings, but they seemed confused. I guess people don't do cuttings in suburban Maryland!
We, of course, spent time working on the interior, too, painting and choosing just the right shades and blinds, but the outside was my realm.
Things being what they are in life, we ended up selling the place when the joy ride of the 90s became the slow leak of the new century. The mortgage payment was more than we wanted to handle anymore.
The people who bought it? The first thing they did was to tear out the gardens and replace them with sod. I hear that they also painted all the walls white. The personality of the house left with us. Now it is just another house in another neighborhood with people passing by it without a stop or a look.
And my English garden is gone. I'm in a new place, though, the second one since we left Mount Airy. We own this one, but the yards are quite small. It's a modest townhome in the middle of the row. I am planning to do some nice things in the front yard here this spring, but my tomato experiment in the backyard last summer taught me that there is not enough light for vegetables here (though I may try to do herbs on the patio again...maybe lettuces, too).
The nicest thing about this house is the view from our small deck. We don't have to look out at someone's farmstyle fence and sour face as we did in Mount Airy (rude neighbor behind us). Behind our home here we have a duck pond that is often full of geese, ducks, and other water fowl such as herons. Occasionally we'll see a fox or two, maybe some deer. It's pretty amazing, because beyond the pond is a busy road and our local VFD, buffered from us by all the land and brush. Nothing will be built back there, so we have our view and our wildlife.
It almost makes up for the loss of my gardens.
Peace - D