Friday, July 13, 2007

walled gardens

We have always been slightly romantic about walled gardens, or sunken gardens, or secret gardens. Perhaps it was living in Italy that did it to us, or our imaginations taking hold of the countless stone cellar holes that tuck into our Vermont landscape. How lovely and surprising they would be full of roses and lilies and catmint.

We never expected to have a walled garden. When we bought our property high on a hill called Mount Hunger, our house was situated in an open meadow with broad sky and lengthy views. Our house and the field surrounding it could best be described as "full of potential." Things were really so bad that about a year before we even looked at the house, another friend of ours was told to meet her realtor at a "real find." Our friend drove into the driveway, parked for about thirty seconds infront of a ruined garage that was at the time the property's best feature, then turned around and drove out. She never even got out of the car.

How we came by this house and the trials and errors of how we went from the proverbial sow's ear and arrived at the current silk purse is another story altogether. It was the garage that led us to the walled garden. Unsuspectingly so I imagine. After a number of years of making several improvements to the house, the garage began to look less and less....well, less, and it became the eyesore that the house had once been. One winter, a new carriage barn went up in another, better location, and the old garage came down. We painstakingly brought down roof, walls, and windows. Made of all cedar, we knew that these bones could be recycled. Within another couple of years, the lay of the land where the garage had once been lent itself to the creation of a sunken garden, the stone wall made from the stone surrounding our property. Now, we are in the final stages. The wall is built. The old cedar from the garage has been employed for the raised beds. Lettuces, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis have all been started. Old bourbon roses have been procured. A garden bench given as a Christmas gift that once sat under an apple tree has been moved, its back against the wall. We wait for the pea gravel to arrive so that we may line the paths, then set a table for dinner in the new garden, and open a bottle of something sparkling to celebrate.

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