My friends Cheri and Marian have been evolving their back yard garden for the last few years. It’s a quirky garden filled with colorful vintage chairs and art objects, treasured shrubs and perennials, and a very productive vegetable garden. I occasionally stop by to lend advise. It’s fun because I get to brainstorm all kinds of design ideas and they do all the work. “Dig up all those blue hostas and put them under the weeping cherry. Move the miscanthus here. That weigela (with the 75lb. root ball) would look better over there.” A few weekends later I’d come back and the heavy lifting was done. I didn’t break a sweat, and things looked pretty good. That’s my kind of gardening. I left happily with zucchini and tomatoes.
Well, apparently all that heavy lifting put Marian in a mood. It was as if all the demolition in the back yard stuck her carburetor wide open. She went a little nuts and ripped out huge old junipers in their front yard. By ripped out, I mean she spent hours pruning and lopping and sawing and finally finished them off by drilling holes in the stumps. They were toast. Or more accurately, compost. While she waited for the stump killer to work it’s magic, she had some time to think on the design. Lots of time. Two years later, the stumps were rotted and the front yard was still looking like one seriously pathetic “before” photo. Cheri called me for help.
I’ve known Cheri for years. She was a Macintosh computer genius and solved technology issues on Macs when the Apple stock price was $10 a share. It’s about $630 today. I’m old. She’d come to my home office and while she loaded my new operating system or waited on hold while my new internet service provider found an employee who knew Macs, we got to know each other. We talked politics, parents, gardening, pets. (Dog person, but we’re cool with that.) She also taught me PhotoShop as my professor at the community college. She was like my own personal Genius Bar. She knew everything and if she didn’t, she knew how to figure it out. So when I say Cheri called me for help, you can see the magnitude in that. For the first time ever, I secretly felt ever so slightly superior with a tiny bit of plant knowledge.
The house needs balance. The front door is so far off to the right it’s almost uncomfortable. By giving the front porch a long entry sidewalk it gives the entry it’s own axis to be centered on. The door becomes anchored visually to the walkway instead of falling off the right side of the house. Notice the address plaque to the left of the front door. It also helps draw your eye toward the entrance and expands the visual significance of the space. The iron railings are replaced with heftier railings to match the picket fence. Painting all the trim the same color makes the door look bigger, adding weight and prominence, as well as tying it to the fence and window box. And adding the window box adds height to the window, and gives it prominence.