Thursday, April 27, 2017

Enjoying Spring in the Japanese Garden

When we bought our old stone house the gardens were thicketed, dried-up, overgrown messes. The front yard was plastered with untrimmed shrubs and the back yard, wow ... what a mess. I awaited spring when we first moved in to see if I could salvage any of the plants. Except for a couple of azaleas, fully-grown Magnolia and Dogwood trees, and one tilted sad looking huge Japanese maple, there was nothing worth saving. That sad old lilac spent her life sharing root and air space with the more successful maple. Her last batch of sumptuous flowers graced the parlor that first spring.

Since I had to essentially start over, and with my passion for Japanese, I sprung for a rugged, Wabi Sabi Japanese inner tea garden. There are 3 parts to a classical tea garden, the outer, middle and inner gardens. The distinction of the innermost garden is that it is the most natural. No clipped shrubs, very little color, and it looks and feels its best sopping wet.

I sketched out a rough layout incorporating the three large trees, added in a dry creek, and created undulating surface from what was a dead-flat yard filled with bricks (2-bricks-deep edging, all over) and landscape fabric (3 layers of it with an inch of soil between each.)

The garden will take years, maybe decades, to get to the point I envision, but here are some spring photos of the textures and color I have introduced. Hope you enjoy.

This tiny fern was one my neighbor didn't want any longer.

I add moss every chance I get.

Japanese Maple Shishigashira

Prized Japanese Maple Shirisawarum Aurum

Sensitive Ferns

Japanese Maple Koto No Ito. This is a Linearlobum type, whose leaves are little more than threads.

Service Berry, a native tree that blooms sparkling white in spring, gets violet berries in summer, copper foliage in autumn, and silver grey bark in winter. Its the perfect small tree.

Lungwort, the perfect plant for shade.

Huge Blue Hosta


This is not moss ... I am looking for what this tiny volunteer plant is. its lovely and always looks waxy and wet.

The trunk of the Japanese Maple that I inherited. Its growing into a good tree, albeit, with a ton of work.

Ruby Azaleas from a neighbor.

Dawn Redwood

Japanese Maple Ryu Sen

Japanese Maple Viridis in bloom. Those intense crimson flowers are about 2 millimeters across.

Japanese White Pine


Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The Parlor

Both photos show the same wall. There were evident plans to add a fireplace (from the huge stone hearth int eh basement ceiling) but it never materialized ... so I got my own.

The Exterior

 Bathroom (sometimes you need more than one before photo to show the horror)

That tile originally was aqua green plastic, painted a few coats of white (with a brush), then some of dreariest colors added.

Window and door trim still needed.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wake the baby, we're turning the old nursery into a library

We have a lot of books—too many books. So, over the past 2 years we have been, with mostly no real movement, making what was an old nursery into our library. There were layers and layers of wall paper (Harry Potter, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, other, non-specific childhood frightening characters) that we yanked off. We were lucky to discover, under a sconce, the original wall paper in pink and blue, which lead me to believe this was always a child's room.

We had some issues with the chimney above the room. Got that patched just last month.

Our plan for the room was always to "panel" it to look more studious and library-ish. We figured that we'll look smarter if the room is paneled. That took some time to design since I didn't wan to disturb the existing wood trim. decided on a plan of lattice strips to mimic board and batten style tall craftsman panelling. Were painting it—the room has always had painted trim— so no worries about matching any wood species.

Here are some during photos. The room needs to be completed in 3 weeks for an event in June so we're gangbusters on it, now. Will follow up with part 2 when we move in the rug and computers.

Original Wall paper scraps discovered behind the base plate of an old sconce. Interestingly, in other locations where we saw the same paper, the gold had turned black.

We have a bunch of stuff, it's all jammed together, it's covered in plastic and taped closed, and Yup, I work here.

The plastic is covering a 6x3 foot chunk of new plaster board I installed on the ceiling  after cutting out damaged plaster. Behind the wall is a chimney (no fireplace in this room) that was improperly capped and funneled water into the ceiling.

Test colors for the room. The "paneling" and all wood trim will be the deep grey, and I chose a darker green than shown for the ceiling. Oh, stop fretting, the room gets tons of brilliant light all day and is in no need of being "lightened up"' It's a library for goodness sake and should be sombre.