I spent a good bit of last week’s blog break standing in my yard, not always in the grip of awe and wonder. I waxed pragmatic – planted some things, pulled other things out of the ground, snipped errant branches, watered. And was surprised, as I am every year at this time, by a brief spate of pastel flowering.
Mostly this garden is quiet. Green and white – with a few red berries and leaves for winter, a little pink from the lace-cap hydrangeas in early summer. No wall o’flowers allowed, unless they are white, and part of a green hedge. A pox on vivid.
But when Easter comes, as it will every year, suddenly the garden teems with pale blue forget-me-nots and pink bleeding hearts, coral bells and native iris. In the last few years, bright yellow oxalis has also volunteered, resulting in an Easter basket of small woodland blooms.
It’s important to point out that the garden wasn’t all, or even mostly, my doing. I had help and a guiding spirit.
When we moved in, this 1953 rancher’s backyard consisted of:
- Entry through a standard mid-century sliding glass door…
- onto a large, irregular cement patio complete with embedded metal poles. We assume they were for a vinyl awning, but never proved out the hypothesis.
- The usual lawn.
- One beautiful Chinese evergreen elm.
- A tall dark green hedge.
When we remodeled in 1992, we took off the entire back of the house, replacing the sliding door and cement patio with a wall of windows, a slate hall and an extended slate patio. The hedge was uprooted to make room for a new master bedroom and bath.
So then we needed a new backyard.
I started working with one landscape architect, but her sketches were too involved, too mannered. Then a friend introduced me to Jeff S. And Jeff made me a garden I love to this day. It’s serene, layered, and natural.
It’s important to find someone talented, someone you like to work with. Professionals are so great, even for, or maybe especially for, enthusiastic amateurs. They lay the foundation for years of tomfoolery.
By the time I moved back into the house after my divorce, in 2008, Jeff had decamped for Portland, Oregon. The yard had deteriorated. So I worked with yet another firm on a rehab; they kept to Jeff’s original design but changed out overgrown or dying shrubs.
I like the new inhabitants, but I liked Jeff’s original work best. Every Easter I remember why. I prefer my gardens ragged, but hopeful.
In software, hidden images or little tricks are called “Easter eggs.” They serve both as a signature of the developer, and as little moments of fun for the user. I always wonder if Jeff planned these seasonal colors. Or maybe when someone who knows his stuff works with your climate and life in mind, you get lucky. Either way, thanks Mr. S., long overdue.