How do you take a home built in 1832 and give it a fresh look? There are obvious things that we can and have done on the inside of the building, but last year, I took a look at the outside, and decided that we really needed to freshen the landscaping up. When we first bought the property in 2002, we added the current front walk and updated the steps. Through the years, we have fought the brave fight with the ivy (which was growing INTO the windows 16 years ago), removed stone lions, trimmed, hacked, removed bushes…lost trees and shrubbery in storms (my favorite 8 foot tall pussy willow).
The main feature in the front of the building has been the enormous rhododendrons, which are absolutely gorgeous in the spring when they bloom…and do provide greenery throughout the rest of the year. However, they are now almost halfway up the building, and darken every front room on the first floor. The plantings along the walk are…eclectic..I have added to, changed and removed some of them…most noticeable are the tulips and bulbs in the spring.
In the rear of the building the grape arbor has had to be supported, and the grape themselves are becoming fewer…and I fear that most of the plant are the sticks at the top that I cannot reach. Likewise the viburnum and the rhododendrons on the side of the building block much of the view outside the sunporch, where breakfast is eaten. And the rosebush in the back, and the honeysuckle bush are intruding on the walk and threaten to totally take over the back yard.
More than ten years ago we contracted with Brett Maloney Landscaping to re-do the front of 55 East Main, and were pleased and excited both with the results and the collaboration. Last year, Brett helped us remove the storage shed from the back parking lot and put in parking lot lighting and more than a dozen large hemlocks in the back.
So during the cold winter months, Brett and I met and discussed likes, dislikes..our desire to keep the ambiance of the historic building, and several iterations later we had a set of gorgeously drawn plans. I picked plants…and waited for spring. And waited. And waited some more.
Finally, this month we started! I have to say the first day, when they removed those large rhododendrons from the front, and all you could see was the “naked” Grape Arbor..I felt a huge pit in my stomach. OMG…had I made a mistake?
See part 2 for the results!