We bought a house and inherited a garden

We purchased our house in July 2016. The story of the house itself is a rather long one but the gist of it is, the house was built in 1901; by 2016 it had been left empty for some time and the fire department had plans to burn it down. This is when two couples we know who are interested in historic preservation and real estate development purchased the house, repaired the foundation to save it from a controlled burn and then sold it on to us. I refer to it as a 'fixer upper'. 



When we moved in our neighbor across the street told us to keep an eye on the garden. She told us two women who had occupied the house several years ago had cultivated an impressive landscape full of botanical treasures. At the time, we had our hands full with the house itself, it was the height of North Carolina summer and I was working in another garden four days a week. I was paying zero attention to my own garden.  

It is now mid-February not quite two years later and our garden is waking up. Ranger marks the subtle shift of early seasonal transitions by the birds. I mark these transitions with plants. The early spring garden in North Carolina is, in my opinion, the best garden. There is an inherent excitement in watching things come to life; in observing tiny pops of color emerging from the sepia toned palette of a Hillsborough winter. 


A mix of crocus and hybrid hellebore dominate at the moment but a flush of dusty blue phlox divaricata is imminent. There are some Cyclamen coum and snowdrops trying to push through the tangle of weeds that I let take over last summer when I was hot and still working in another garden and seven months pregnant. The small fragrant umbels of  Edgeworthia chrysantha (paperbush) flowers are starting to unfurl and they will soon scent the walk from the car to the house. In about a week a wave of white quince and winter honeysuckle will bloom against some large evergreens along the north side of our house.

You've got to appreciate the biological rhythm of this early spring garden; tiny plants springing up from the ground to catch the light before gigantic trees and sprawling perennials leaf out and soak up all the nutrients. It's a hopeful garden where the little guys shine bright. 

It is my intention to document our landscape in this blog. To observe how it exists now and chronicle how it will change over time. We are a family of diverse needs: I want to design a landscape that is low maintenance and beautiful and marks each season with a mix of interesting plants. My husband wants a robust ecological patch that accommodates invertebrates and reptiles and birds. My dog wants room to chase his ball and my baby will inevitably need space to run and climb and dig and build. I anticipate it will be a constant negotiation between design ideals, ecology, practicality and budget, with Mother Nature weighing in as she sees fit. She is the boss after all.