Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A reminder of simplicity

One day, I might delve into the story of how I came to possess 4,000 Belgian block cobblestones (the big, heavy, loaf of bread sized ones).  Just briefly, I obtained them when we were building our house in the early 1980's to make a front motor court.  Getting them here was the worst (God rest Daddy's and Chip's souls), but then I let someone who didn't know anything about drainage or using a level, put them in.  The young man needed the money for his baby's heart operation.

Stop the story right there.  For two disastrous decades, I had a lake in front of my house when it rained.  The cobblestones would be caked with mud.  They've now been dug up and are at the farm, awaiting their next incarnation.  In front of my house, I have pea gravel, and it's my favorite thing ever. Miraculously, the pebbles weren't too deep  (a few people get stuck, but only for a moment).  I love the look of just the two boxwoods in front, and the simple pea gravel against the limestone and stucco of the facade.

But, pictured above is a garden I really like.  I'm not sure if it still exists, but it was just the most pleasing entrance to a commercial building in a warehouse district.  Simple lines.  Simple plantings and very reminiscent of European gardens you'd stumble on sometimes.

What brought all this to mind was Tara Dillard's popular blog, showing how she was making a cobblestone border for a client and filling the middle of a courtyard (or was it a parking area?) with gravel.  Last year, I dug some errant cobblestones from around the house and lined them up in what used to be a rectangular lawn.  I made two squares and a long rectangle in the middle.  But, then I proceeded to fill the outlined spaces with tomato plants and zinnia seeds.  By July, it was a wreck.

This year, I'm rethinking the spaces.  Where the lawn used to be (it's been covered with black landscape cloth for several years), I'll have to use sand instead of gravel to save money.  I'm going for the look of a Parisian park.  I've just got to be disciplined about what goes inside my cobblestone outlines.  I can still do the obelisks in the middle, but I need simple green outlines instead of tumbling, riotous color.  The whole thing is seen from above, so I can't go wild again with plants that flop everywhere.

It's going to be hard, but I'm going to take a cue from the above garden and try my best to keep everything uncomplicated.  The space above makes me want to sit down and linger a while.  There's something soothing about the organized lines that give way to the vines going up the walls.  A very nice place, indeed.


  1. I did a new garden with lawn surrounded by proper English perennial borders.

    Ha, Phil Colson said, "Take out the grass, put in flagstone."

    He was right of course. Been flagstone for years.

    Do you know Sandra Jonas' story about her drunk handyman and antique brick?

    XO T

  2. While it's a lovely aspect, I'm drawn by the openings in the stone to what lies beyond. I'm compelled to get up from the chair and explore beyond the stone. Yes, what's there is neat, orderly and tidy but what's beyond the wall? What treasures are on the other side that I haven't yet seen?

    Thank you for the lovely views & commentary I've enjoyed on your blog.

  3. Sharon Stanley RuggerioFebruary 7, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Oh, happy day! I just discovered your lovely site. Forever heartsick over the demise of A Gardener's Diary, I am grateful for this oasis of beauty and expertise. How maddening that the powers-that-be at HGTV canceled THE premier gardening program. As a result, they lost many, many viewers. No one I know enjoys their current bland, uninspiring, repetitive, gritty offerings. I no longer watch HGTV because they abandoned the loyal followers of creative endeavors like A Gardener's Diary, Joe Ruggiero, Kitty Bartholomew, etc. Sad....

  4. Tara, I haven't heard the one about Sandra Jonas and the antique brick. Will have to find out about this!

    To: gardenerinct: Actually, the world of industrial warehouses lies beyond these walls (but they are inviting, which does make one think that something wonderful is just around the corner). It is more of an oasis than an area that leads to more garden areas (but I agree with you; it should take us to more lovely rooms or vistas). Wait. I think you can see the Atlanta skyline from one of those arches. And, he had an entire bank planted in rosemary. Another exception. There was a graveled area leading from the parking lot. Along the wall of the building, the owner/gardener (an architect) had some great looking terra cotta containers (long, probably Italian, with a rolled border along the top). They were unplanted at that time, but I did have a slight attack of envy over them.

    To Sharon: I loved all those original shows. Joe and Kitty had such interesting and attractive homes on their shows. I miss all of them. I also hate that the many wonderful gardens we would have aired never saw the light of day.