Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pondering the big picture

Dan and I stroll the grounds of the "estate" 'most every night in good weather, looking at all the work we have done, and have yet to do, and trying to figure out just what it is we WANT to do, what we want to achieve in our earthly paradise.

It is a bigger challenge than I naively thought it would be when first we started 5 years ago. We've identified lots of goals -- create more privacy, reduce the lawn as much as possible, provide good bird habitat, produce as much of our own fruits and vegetables (and now eggs) as we can, make it low maintenance by using natives and naturalized plants or tough immigrants who like the climate, and do it all utilizing organic methods whenever possible.

Then there are all those other little details that have a huge impact -- how do we accomplish all the above and keep room for the pickup truck to get back to the vegetable garden and perennial beds with loads of manure and mulch? How do we get water to the vegetable garden nearly 300' from the hose spigot?

The gorgeous sugar maple in the middle of the yard is aging and needs some work. What do we do to prepare for --heaven forbid-- the dark day we have to take it down? (This tree is a huge part of what we love about this house, one of the first things we saw on that autumn day in 2000 when we stepped into the house to see it for the first time, and gasped at the tree blazing away in it's autumn finery framed by the big window in the living room. It lit the yard like an earthbound sun.)

And let's not forget that we must have a clothesline, for I'm a thrifty native Mainer and relish saving pennies and fossil fuel with my deluxe solar dryer -- and I love the scent of line-dried laundry.

Then there are all the ideas we get from reading all those garden books and magazines -- we should be creating garden rooms furnished with decorating accents and weathered cedar benches yadda yadda. We have more rooms than we now need in the house, do we want rooms in the garden? Will we have to dust them if we create them? What kind of garden will inspire me, yet be in keeping with our traditional New England home, a cape with an ell with an ell with a barn?

Given all this, how do we create interest and focal points, showcase favorite plants, and reduce lawn while keeping room for the truck in our long narrow lot while respecting and loving what we already have here?

On mornings like today, I sit over coffee in the kitchen nook, looking out the back window and I fall in love with the yard and its possibilities all over again, but I am still pondering how to achieve all of the above. We've made a good start, but clearly, I have a lot more thinking to do.

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