Sunday, July 15, 2012

Leaving Home and Garden

It is not easy to leave our home and garden after thirty years.

View from South Deck
Our home is located in the Hudson Valley and our garden is on a long and steep slope that eventually ends up at the Hudson River, facing the Palisades. When we walk to the train station to go to the city for work, we walk 0.7 miles straight down the steep slope to the river, using a sidewalk, of course, and not by rappelling in our backyard.

Our garden is a small tamed area sitting on a slope in rather wild and natural surroundings.  It is a place to enjoy for all seasons and has a character all its own in spring, summer, fall and winter. For as long as we have lived here, we have worked on taming it, just a bit.

When we sell our home, we leave the garden behind, but we will take our gardening ideas to our next location  and will design and experiment in a new context.  We have several principles that we use in our garden that will no doubt apply to the next:  
  1. The fun never stops; 
  2. Our legs and back always ache and we are on our knees a lot; and
  3. If you water the lawn very heavily, it will rain.

We practically have no lawn on our property.  What lawn that we do have is set on a terrace and is surrounded by flowers and bushes that mingle and match in their own ways. As the years have moved along it has become quite unpredictable what flowers we will find in the spring that have settled into our lawn.

Our North Deck in Summer

The north deck overlooks the small lawn and peers out into the terraced garden.  The deck is low and faces the Palisades.  We have spent many a summer dining out here on this deck with the children.

North Deck in Spring

South Deck in Winter

The south deck overlooks the Palisades and the Hudson River and sits much higher.
South Deck in Summer
 In any season, this deck is a great spot to watch the sun set.

Our garden is sloped and terraced. 

 There are stairs to help us get from one level to the other.

  The garden shifts from tame to wild as it heads toward the woods.

We get an interesting perspective on our garden from our attic window.

The circle of bricks surrounding the bird bath out front was built by my husband as a gift to me, some ten years ago.
The plants that we have put in in the garden are not treated in any way with chemicals.  These roses are neither fertilized nor treated with chemicals, nor are they watered regularly.  Yet, for thirty years, they have grown multiplied and thrived on the slope.  At the top of the garden slope, we compost leaves, all our cuttings and vegetable scraps from our kitchen.  The result has been wonderful. 

In the autumn, the Palisades are in full view from the North Deck, as is the Hudson River, from the South Deck. 

THere is a patch of flowers left  as a gift for me in the middle of the lawn by my son when he went to college. 
He mowed around them and said to me, "Here Mom, a present, something to remember me by."  Fifteen years later, in the spring, they are still popping up in the center of the lawn.  

 It makes me smile.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fixing Up the Old Cottage

The work is begun.

We are renovating our seasonal cottage so that we can live in it comfortably in spring, summer and fall. That sounds rather simple, doesn't it?  But our goal has resulted in a pile of old materials heaped up in our yard that used to be our old interior kitchen and bathroom walls.  We will soon have new walls, freshly painted and tiled and all this rubble will be removed.  But for now, it looks pretty messy. 

We are removing old appliances such as our 1952 Frigidaire made by General Motors and still running beautifully even though it eats a generous amount of electricity and has no defrosting capabilities.  But at least it still runs after 60 years.  We have put it up for sale and I am sure someone will give it a good home. We talked about keeping this wonderful old fridge, but decided to get a new one that has a freezer on the bottom to reduce the amount of time that we spend kneeling in front of our refrigerator as though it were a sacred relic or famous religious leader.

If there is an interested buyer who is on a diet, I might add that one asset of this refrigerator is that it takes two hands (and sometimes two people) to get the door open and if you are a little kid at least one foot as well.  This reduces the amount of time spent snacking on unnecessary food items and it is also good exercise for people who need their arms (and perhaps their legs) strengthened.

If we get depressed from looking at this heap of rubble, all we do is go around the front of the cottage and look at the lake instead.  It reminds us why we are doing this.