settling in

house pre-paintView of our little cottage from the azalea hedge. Spoiler alert! House will be changing color soon…

I’ve re-written this post 3 times in the past month. I started out by telling you how, years ago, right out of college, I took up residence in Hartford, CT, and my roommate was kind enough to lend me her car so I could get to work. The fifth gear had stopped working at some point in this jalopy’s history, so once I got on the highway, I could only go as high as fourth and pray that all the ticked off and super-caffeinated Crazy New England Drivers wouldn’t run me off the road. There was a lot of colorful language and hand gestures as they flew past me at Mach 2 while I pretended I didn’t see them nor hear the engine sounding like it was about to explode.

A Shropshire LadA Shropshire Lad

I thought this would be a perfect analogy as to how I’ve been feeling lately, trying so hard to get up to speed, but the gears simply aren’t working and everything-life-keeps ripping past me. It’s like I’ve lost an entire summer what with the move and the accident (I barely even remember June) and there is SO MUCH TO DO on this house, it’s like a hydra; We tackle one headache and 6 more emerge. We’ve also learned that while we love the show Rehab Addict, we personally don’t enjoy the remodeling process. Whoops!

café au lait in new gardenHowever, while some days are better than others, we tell ourselves that every day, we go to sleep in a home that is slightly nicer than when we woke up and, more importantly, we have a roof over our heads. That’s a lot more than many people can say and don’t think that’s lost on us for one second.

St SwithunSt Swithun

We have some roses in bloom, now, too, which feels downright luxurious. Beginning again from scratch, I think I appreciate them even more, if that’s at all possible. Some of the babies that we started from cuttings flowered and I let them go even though I always hear how you’re supposed to pinch the buds. I can’t bring myself to do it (although I don’t let them set hips.) I also had about 10 or so Arcata Pink Globe cuttings take from those I brought with me when we moved and they grew so fast we already planted them out in a nice hedge. Can you believe it? That’s such an amazing rose. Can’t wait to see the hedge fill in and this time, I gave them plenty of room to get big.

Ghislaine de Féligonde 2015Ghislaine de Féligonde

Ivor's RoseIvor’s Rose (the scent on this tiny flower was unbelievable!)

We’ve completed the fourth raised bed and planted that out. Each bed has a rose in it’s center and is surrounded by various annuals and perennials. The first bed we set out has filled in the most, of course, and even a few sweet peas are blooming there. (Remember my sweet peas from last year? How I miss those.) We experimented with painting the beds white at first, but now have reached an impasse as Jesse likes them painted and I prefer them not. Maybe I’ll wait until the house gets it’s paint and then see what I think. In the meantime, they’re helping to anchor that section of garden and in each bed I’m splurging with some of my favorite flowers, like foxglove, dianthus, iris, clematis, salvia, anemone and more.

3rd raised bed 4th raised bedTop: 3 brand new beds by June. Bottom: the 4th bed up by July. The maple tree was removed for more sunlight and future firewood. Still much to do in that part of the garden but it’s a start…

peachy pink foxgloveThese foxglove were beautiful while they lasted but did not send up additional spikes later in summer like most foxglove do but promptly died after flowering. You win some, you lose some. 

flowers in the raised bed

Munstead Wood in new gardenMunstead Wood

There are a lot of hideous befores and semi-decent afters going on around here but I do want to wait until these projects are actually completed before I share those–and nothing is yet. Argh! When I get to where I have to get away from all the inside work I like to go outside and create new beds for next spring. I’m doing it the quick and easy way by using up the cardboard from our move and covering that with finely ground bark mulch. It’s killing the grass for me and laying the groundwork for next year when I can then add layers of compost/soil and plant out. Hang on, here are a couple of pics I took on my cell phone so you can see what I mean. Easy! Although, I’ve done so much of this I hear the sound of mulch hitting cardboard in my dreams….

IMG_2895 IMG_2900This bed above is, of course, not finished. It’s eventually going to wrap around the circumference of the rock wall. The bricks anchoring down the cardboard aren’t staying, either. Do you see the hideousness that is the pachysandra-vinca-weed-filled mess that is in background? That is next on the list to be tackled. Eventually, I want to make that a hummingbird garden. We have a little tribe of them living here and I’d like to encourage them to stay! Also, that willow trellis looks a fright but I leave it up because the tufted titmouses love playing on it. When the bed is finished it will be replaced with a dovecote–at least, that’s the dream. 😉

IMG_0287Above photo was taken in April shortly after we moved in and began to remove the shrubs/trees that were pressing against the house and before commencing any exterior work. Pretty gross, right? All the weeds/grass was covered with cardboard/mulch…and I added some boxwood for good measure.

outlining new beds 1Working my way from inside out…

IMG_3135The cardboard will break down over winter, and then in spring I’ll take my favorite edging tool and make a nice crisp edge. Looking at these photos I’m so excited to get this house painted.

toad friendThe mulch pile has been in our yard for quite a while and I’m not sure if these darling toads came with the mulch or found their way to it, but I was finding several of them as I was meting it out for which I am so grateful and happy. Toads are the biggest blessing in a garden.

Elie Beauvillain late summer blossomElie Beauvillain first yearElie Beauvillain (bottom photo shows how this rose does not like heat)

I’ve added some roses that I already knew and loved (like Munstead, Strawberry Hill & PAofKent) and some that are new to me, like Elie Beauvillain, and James Galway. Gourmet Popcorn would get the award for non-stop flowering, but I must say that A Shropshire Lad has been winning in the beautiful bloom department. I can’t wait for it to establish so it can really show off.

gourmet popcorn 8-20-1Gourmet Popcorn

James Galway and baby bee James GalwayJames Galway

princess alexandra in new gardenPrincess Alexandra of Kent

So yes, it’s been a bumpy summer, to put it mildly, but I think we’re turning a corner and finally settling in. Instead of it feeling like we’re living in someone else’s home, it’s starting to feel more like ours. We’re loving this forest around us, and the creatures that inhabit it (I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing tiny fawns figuring out how to use their legs for the first time) and it’s making all the hard stuff worth it and then some.

Swallowtail and Rose of SharonI hope you’ve all been well and I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to if you’d like to share. Are you also feeling like summer is flying past? Are you ready for autumn?

Delft Blue Viola and mossSHOP NEWS: First, I wanted to thank you again for supporting handmade and, not only that, making the switch from purchasing from me in my (now closed) Etsy shop, and coming here, instead. On my end, it’s been glorious being able to streamline and I hope you haven’t had any problems with the shop’s interface. (It’s just me doing all that HTML stuff and yikes, that’s not easy.) ANYWAYS… I will be listing some metalsmithed rings soon {They’re up! Visit HERE} that have been in my collection and were either not relisted or never were in the first place. A nice handful of pieces that include some gorgeous gems. So, watch for that… 🙂


20 thoughts on “settling in

  1. Hi Laurie, it all looks amazing and I’m super jealous of your beautiful house, we too have been doing ours up for two years now, we still don’t have flooring, it’s never ending but because it is, each little thing we do is super exciting, like putting up a blind!!
    The Rose Munstead Wood is beautiful, Munstead is about twenty minutes from where I live! X

    1. You live in such a nice area, Kate! 🙂
      It’s funny you mention floors…that’s our latest project. Phew! And I know what you mean about the littlest things being cause for excitement. I felt that way when I hung some art, finally, just the other day!

  2. Hullo, Laurie!
    Your little cottage looks like it has tons of potential– perfect for rambly gardens blending into the woods. I hope you feel better every day. Autumn is almost here– that’s always such a nice crisp invigorating time, and I bet your home/garden improvements will progress by leaps and bounds then.

    I’ve been moving my own garden; it’s just too hot with full-sun southern exposure. I also like an enclosed patio area better than a 30-foot-long border. Right now my flowerbed is in shambles and the shady western wall of my house is lined with about 50 things in pots. Discovering a new nursery is always awesome. I’ve begun working as a school librarian now, so we’ll see how much time I have for all my ambitious projects. I am so ready for autumn!

    1. Goodness, you are busy! Do you ever sleep? 😉
      Thank you for the comment on the house–sometimes we forget to see the big picture but overall I think this little house could be very cute someday. I hope!
      A 30′ long border is a lot of work, for sure. It sounds like you are going to create something really wonderful with your enclosed patio!

  3. Your surrounding woods are a beautiful backdrop to your gardens. I am surrounded by pines, which require raking EVERY DAY. We didn’t remove enough of them from the garden area, altho they do provide a nice, dappled kind of sunlight. I know the feeling of losing a whole season. I’ve had to be out of state for years in late May and June – when our short season starts. Anything done after that is considered ‘for next year’. I made up for lost time this year, even uncovering 4 roses buried under years of pine needles…Apothecary’s Rose, Madame Ernst Calvat, Stanwell Perpetual and Ballerina. You could almost hear their sighs of relief. Your lesson on propagating from stem cuttings is saved in my file. It is the best of the best on the subject and I will put all that info to use in the spring. I appreciate the time and care you put into your blog.

    1. Thank you Andrea! You don’t know how much it means to me that you are getting some use out of this blog. That makes it all worthwhile. 🙂
      Sounds like you know exactly how it feels to plan for a whole year ahead but what a great find to discover those 4 roses under all those pine needles. Wow! Those are going to be beautiful. (Interestingly, down here in NC, many people use pine needles as mulch which I’d never seen before. I’ll bet you’re thinking they can come just get yours, right? haha..)

  4. Thanks for the garden tour – you guys have done a ton of work – it looks awesome! Looks like you have lots of really good sunny space for roses. Any “new” Old Garden Roses that you have your eye on for your new garden?

    1. Hi Cole! Well, we have some sunny patches, but unfortunately the garden/property is laid out in a way that the best morning sun hits the back of the house where there is literally no space to put anything. We’re making do with roses that aren’t as fussy about those things. As for new roses, I have been forcing myself to not look on any websites or any catalogs because I just don’t know where I’m going to put them! If I can get some beds created this autumn then maybe I’ll reserve some new ones this winter. Now that we’re in a slightly warmer climate I’m looking at more noisettes and teas. I’ll let you know! 🙂

  5. What a huge amount of work you’ve done already! Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what you’ve done, because of course we’re all just waiting to do the Next Project. We just moved into our house last year, and it’s needed a lot of house and garden restoration. I’ve dug up at least 8 or 9 established bittersweet stumps, but do I think of that? No– I think “jeez, why haven’t I divided those irises yet??”

    On the plus side, I’ve finally decided that Munstead Wood is going to be rose #2 in my garden, probably next spring or the year after. Can’t wait for it to (hopefully) look as beautiful as yours does!

    1. Haha! Boy, I can really relate to your bittersweet stumps/iris divisions anguish. We eliminated a huge patch of knotweed and I’m just cranky that I don’t have any place to plant new roses. Thank you for the reminder to just chill out already. 😉 What kinds of things are you planning for your new garden? You’re going to love Munstead!


    1. Thank you Denise, I’m honored! How wonderful that you finally have your sunshine for roses. You’ll have to let me know which ones you decide to plant!

  7. Your photos are amazing as always. I remember when I first started to add little touches to my own small but light apartment. As soon as I brought a hibiscus tree and a couple of snake plants, the whole picture started to look a lot different, cozy even. I have pots with herbs on the terrace and I love to go outside and read a book. My point is that sprucing up a space is always worth it.

    1. Thank you Emily, that is so kind. 🙂 Isn’t it funny how those little touches like bringing in some houseplants make all the difference? Sounds like you’ve made yourself such a charming and relaxing terrace!

  8. Love the tour!!! You have been busy and have so much done already! Love all the delicate little blooms of your babies! Enjoy your new home! xo 🌹

    1. Thank you Teresa! We have been busy but I’m ready now for autumn/winter when I can plan the spring garden. Looking forward to seeing you again this May at the Biltmore!

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