Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cutout Gardens

I few years ago Mr. Fix-it and I sold a house or two and were able to make a pretty good profit, good enough to have our driveway paved. For some people a paved driveway is a luxury and not really required, and for us it is a luxury too, but REALLY required. No more errant rocks in the lawn and under the lawn mower, no more slipping and sliding in the puddles, and no more muddy feet and mess in the house and yard. Finally, a nice parking place for all of the cars. Not to mention the fact a concrete driveway does add value and curb appeal to a home.

Chris Wallace of Wallace Concrete did our driveway and I must say he did a great job. I was out of town on temporary duty and Mr. Fix-it was left in charge of the pour. I still can't believe I left him alone to decide where the driveway and parking area would go but I did! I am usually such a micro-manager when it comes to things which affect the yard. But between Mr. Fix-it and Mr. Wallace the two of them made some really nice curves which combines the aesthetically pleasing with the functional. Curves and wide enough turn around areas are important points to consider when pouring a driveway. There are actually formulas on the Internet one can utilize to ensure the driveway pour will adequately accommodate a car's turnaround needs. One area of the pour which was not to be, was this little cutout garden.

I asked Mr. Wallace to leave me a garden space in this area and left it up to him to decide the shape and size. No one wants a sea of concrete in their yard, but driveways and parking areas are a necessity and if you have to have concrete, why not make it pretty? One thing a homeowner should do when planning a pour is to think about how all that heat from the sun will affect the surrounding area, and how the runoff from rain will drain. A way to lessen the impact of both is to build in cutout gardens, as pictured above.

I was impressed with the way the concrete crew picked the right scale with the right curves to make everything flow and work for us. This area could've been wasted space but instead has become a lovely garden which gets alot of sun. Lots of sun in my garden is a luxury and I will take all I can get. This garden has been on my mind because I just reworked it. I had to remove a ton of Liriope spicata, aka Creeping Lilyturf, then pull the Lambs ears and Goldsturm Brown Eyed Susans from the roots of the spicata. The garden did change when all was said and done. The dwarf Alberta Spruce is still there and has grown quite large since this picture was taken, but the daylillies, begonia and oregano growing at the far end have been removed or died out. Now this garden has only the spruce, then next to the spruce five Kniphofias, aka Red Hot Pokers, then a bunch of brown eyes. I also added a few Muscari, aka Grape Hyacinths and tulip bulbs.

While I was reworking, rejuvenating, removing and replanting this tiny little garden, it occurred to me that gardening is HARD WORK that never seems to end. It is like dishes. You just get finished washing them and tidying up and you feel really content and happy. Then, if you are like me, you realize the dishes will come back again tomorrow or the next meal or whenever! Dishes do come back and washing them is a process that is neverending. Just like gardening. I guess I should be overly happy I don't have to rework a garden everyday like I have to do the dishes everyday. Could you imagine?! Now which would you choose to do on an ongoing basis if you had a choice? Wash dishes or garden? And what types of hobbies to you all have other than gardening that pull you away from household chores?

As for me, forget the dishes, I am in the garden....


  1. I love this little garden Tina! I think I like the small gardens because you can usually see everything in them. With larger gardens, sometimes there are too many things to be able to see it all…

    We also have a little garden in the middle of our paved driveway. I refer to it as the Driveway Island as it is totally surrounded by asphalt! The island takes care of itself. It consist of a large pink Crepe Myrtle, a Snowball Viburnum (spelling?), two Azaleas and one Nandina. I never do anything to the island but place fresh pine straw as decorative mulch! Even in this Georgia heat and our on-going drought, it has done well without my attention...

    The Saint and I have many hobby’s to include boating, fishing, bird watching in the back yard, small house renovations, cooking, etc.

  2. Hi Guys, What a true, true luxury a smooth driveway would be. My drive is flanked with rock walls on both sides and it becames annoying to piece them back together after a season of plowing, not to mention a homemade brick with our last name imbedded in it--getting carried to our neighbors driveway. That was made by you Tina, our neighbor brought it back in pieces. Jack of all trades wants to tar our driveway and put radiant under it. Thinks it will be great advertising for the business but I doubt we will ever do it. Our engineer tells me it has to be concrete because of softing the tar. There isn't to many concrete driveways up here unless it is seperate floating 10x10 squares. Even the highway are tarred and not pieced like it was when I was young, I remember the repetative bumps putting me to sleep on long trips. Our techs bring back enough waste oil that Jack of all trades thinks he can put a waste oil furnace in the shed with a outdoor sensor but I think we would be better off putting it in the shop for extra heat. Paving would sure keep my rugosas for escaping into the drive, this year I had a volunteer patch of goats rue crop up, and it's spilling into the driveway. Do you know much about that herb? It is very evasive and has interesting uses. Everyone up here calls it bleeding hearts, it grows 5 ft tall and is a member of the pea family. I love it and at first I thought it was really America Wistera, we are on the tail end of being able to go wistera and I have alway wanted one.
    My true calling is crafts, sewing, and dollmaking, Jack of all trades is,...tinkering, My teen aged sons hobby is,--what else? Video games. My daughters hobby is singing, where did that come from? We all like to walk in the woods.

  3. I wanna know where I got such well rounded and smart daughters? Glad you are coming on all the time now Dawn. It is like I talk to all my kids nearly everyday...with Terri-Lynn living next door and Joanne calling 15 times a week. What more can a mother of 4 daughters ask for. One lucky mother here. Love ya both.

  4. Yeh, but....where is everyone? Nina, Ginger and O'Malley, Skeeter is here. Skeeter don't you think is it great to have a maintance free bed? My cedar, juniper and holly is that way. Shouldn't we advise my sister to think dishwasher? Or, when she has unexpected guest--put the dirty dishes in the oven? I've been know to do that once or twice. What do you think?

  5. Hi Skeeter, Dawn and Mom,
    Good to hear from you!

    Skeeter, I like your hobbies-all except the cooking. I don't like to cook much because it keeps me from the garden. I saw your driveway bed and I love it. Especially the crepe. It is beautiful.

    btw, mom likes your writing just a wee bit better than mine. You are more witty than I. But methinks you may have a competitor on here with your writing. That would be my sister Dawn. She is pretty good.

    I am so glad we all get to talk on here too. It is great! Definitely connects us and we all meet new people too.

    You are a great commenter on here and I can tell you are enjoying it and getting to know everyone. Nina has been busy taking care of her dad. I am not sure about o'malley and ginger. They do visit sandy's pet people blog sometimes though. I really think most people are getting ready for the holidays though.

    You are too funny. I am bad about my dishes. Unexpected guest or not, they have to deal with all my warts. I may throw the dishes in the dishwasher to hide them, but mostly I just leave them out. Just ask mom. Now when Skeeter and the Saint came I did clean. It was a cleaning week and important to me. But the second visit is fair game! Regardless of how the house looks, the garden is going to ALWAYS look great. Don't know why I am that way but I am.

    I am going to look up goats rue. I am not sure what it is. I probably should have looked it up before I am posting but I didn't. I will.

    I can't wait to see your garden as I have only seen it once. All the other times I have been there in the winter. Liz says your house is nice but I am suprised you are not in it yet. Just Zack, the teenaged son.

    Why are you just on the verge of getting wisteria? Doesn't it grow well there? I have two and I do not like them. I just put there there to hopefully block the terrible neighbors. If I had to do all over I would get wisteria fructescens, 'Amethyst Mist'. This is the best one as it will not be so rampant. Plant this kind if you plant any. Don't put it by your house.

    You are very talented with crafts and I still think you should go into business for yourself selling them. Ebay is a great way to sell stuff. You don't even need a booth.

    I will be happy to make you a new brick the next time I make some. Just tell me what you want on it.

    Does Nicky sing in a chorus at school? Jimmy can carry a tune. That is more than I could ever do because we in our family defiinitley don't sing well.

  6. Dawn,
    Is it hydrastis canadensis? Is the goats rue used for medicinal purposes? I found a site but I am not sure if it is. I don't think we have here. It says it forms underground roots and sends up leaves all along it. Sounds icky to me because I don't like spreaders. But it does bloom Jun-Aug?

  7. Hi Tina, No we are not in the house yet, I am waiting for our electrician to come back and run the main, Zacks side has power and heat off the shop but the new side still needs this.
    Our zone is the last zone for growing wistera and needs protection. I have one on the edge of the woods that has grown to about 10 ft but has never flowered and sometimes breaks at the ground due to my firece dog chasing the squirrels. I want one between the holly, juniper and cedars so it will cascade from the top of my rock wall. I had wild hemp(the kind you make braided jewerly from--not the other)spilling from the top of the wall for about 25 ft long, we had large hail storm one year and it was destroyed. I will plant your recomendation.
    I plan to be on Ebay as soon as I get the new craft room organized, in fact lppronut is my user. It showed on my 1st posting because I had not confirmed the account in my email.
    Nikki is in chorus this year, she was very excited about it and drives me nuts singing at the bus stop, she also takes piano lessons from her music teacher. We have a big Christmas concert on Thur. and she will be in 4 songs. She carries a tune apparently from Jack of all trades side of the family, both his father and stepfather had bands.
    I found goats rue on squido and on alternative nature online herbal by Karen Bergeron. One site has it from the north to florida and Texas, but the other does not. Both pics do not do it justice. Its botanical name is Galega Officinalis, Aka catgut, french honeysuckle and french lilac. Its properties help induce sweating for a fever to break, lowers sugar for non insulin dependent diabetes (that is wonderful!!) and breast enhancement. ( surprised it's not flying off the shelves in the herbal stores!)It does bloom for quite awhile because it is very evasive and new plants crop up all season. The trunk grows hairy like sumac and for several years I pulled it, but I decided to let it be in the rock bed around the tree cluster in frount of the house. I will sent better pics when it flowers this spring.
    Well, gotta go I have unstained deck rails calling me.

  8. Dawn and Tina, I gotta tell you both. Sometimes (like just now) when I read these comments it just brings tears to my eyes. You guys are sooooo darn smart and I just love it. Proud mamma here!!!! BTY Tina, Joanne just loves the photo of you with the hat. She says you always were so smart and such a great gardner. I doubt she will ever comment as she is not real happy about signing up for things on the puter but does look at this from time to time. She says she can't keep a plant alive and loves that you and Dawn are so good at it. She does have a few plants aroud her mailbox and found an ant hill in it and poured something on it to kill the ants and guess what? Yup, she killed the flowers. I laughed so hard at her. Love ya both

  9. Here I am! I've been raking leaves in the rain and wondering why I did not plant more evergreens. Although in the spring I will happy to have my perfectly placed hammock trees there.
    The cut out garden is lovely and does not look like so much work.
    My husband has long ago quit trying to get me in from the rain once I get going on weed pulling. My dogs think that I am outside just for them.
    Good thing dogs and humans we are washable.

  10. Hey guys,
    Good to hear from everyone! I don't know what the weather is like up in Maine, but down here it is 70 degrees and rainy. I was like Ginger, out in the rain! I love working in the garden when it is rainy and warm. Warm being crucial. I spread 700 pounds of crushed lime and cleaned my gutters. What fun. Just kidding-hard work. My leaves are mostly raked and Ginger, I think we all wonder why we didn't plant more evergreens when raking season comes. lol What kind of dogs do you have? I might have seen it on pet people but can't remember.

    Dawn, I will look for you on ebay. I bet you will make lots of money as you are so talented. Tell the kids I said hello. Are you staining deck rails on the new house?

    Mom, tell Joanne I said hello and I am glad she is checking in every now and then. Oftentimes people don't have anything to say so they don't comment or they don't want to sign up for something else (like Liz), and that is no problem. It is nice to just check and read every now and then.

    My professor at school spent time in southern Florida as a horticulturist. But that is one place I would not want to garden. Too many red ants and humidity even though things grow like crazy down there. You'd think I'd like it. I did like visiting baba in the wintertime though, and seeing all the beautifully landscaped parks. Joanne never did like plants much. I can see her trying to kill ants and instead killing the plants. funny.

  11. Whoops, I forgot Sandy--here is to wishing Ninas father in better health

  12. Tina,
    I have a Great Dane, and a Silky Terrier. They are both great help in the yard, esp. with the digging. My big girl has her own digging hole. The little one prefers to improve on the holes that the moles start.
    Is your dog a digger?

  13. Tina,
    I have a Great Dane, and a Silky Terrier. They are both great help in the yard, esp. with the digging. My big girl has her own digging hole. The little one prefers to improve on the holes that the moles start.
    Is your dog a digger?

  14. Oops, you probably did not need to see that last entry twice. Sorry 'bout that.

  15. Hi Ginger,
    I LOVE great danes. They are so beautiful and in my experience, very friendly and family oriented. I don't know what a silky terrier is but it is probably small-what a contrast between big and small dogs. What are their names?

    I have two golden mixes and a dachsund/chihuahua. They don't dig unless going after a mole like your little one. My big dogs prefer to chew plants out of the ground. I liked your comment they think you are outside just for them. Dogs are great.

    Dawn, do you still have Tartarian?

  16. Yes, we still have Tartus, boxer/chocolate mix. He can't be out in the rain because he can not see were he is going, to busy blinking his eyes.
    Gotta go Christmas shopping today and it is snowing again, surposed to do it all week.

  17. Have fun. I am refinishing a antique treadle sewing machine. I have vowed not to shop until it done as it is in the middle of my small living room! It is almost done and then I will display some Christmas decorations on it.

    Travel safe in the snow. It is still raining here. Really dreary.

  18. Dawn, are you getting addicted to this blog like I am? Looks like it. Love ya both.

  19. Gee, I am off the computer for a few days to enjoy the Saints birthday weekend activities and miss all this wonderful converting with yall…..

    My dad had to send me a funny comment from the comics today about Blogging. Dagwood told his son that blogging was a waste of time and for people without a life, etc then Dagwood found out about Pizza Pete then he checked out the blog and now he is hooked! Funny stuff how chatting can get one hooked.....

    Must gloat a bit... It was 81 degrees yesterday down here in GA and calling for more of that warm spring stuff in the days to come! I have my windows open and can hear the confused birds singing their mating songs! I am sure something will bloom soon and I will keep my eyes open for a snapshot of a surprise in the garden....

  20. oh but Skeeter, you miss the pretty Christmas lights with the snow. I like my four seasons and hate the hot weather. Thought I'd die when we were at Tina's in August. Then we went to her sister's in FL and thought I'd die there but it was a little cooler. I lived in GA for a couple of years, in fact Dawn was born there. Although I loved the people, I hated, really hated all the bugs and heat.

  21. Well hi Skeeter,
    I hope the Saint's birthday festivities were great. We missed you!

    I saw that comicstrip this morning about the blogs. It still suprises me that blogs have such a bad image-even dagwood says so then he gets attached. It was funny!

    This weather is crazy! We too had a lot of warmth yesterday but today it is cool again. The weatherman was saying how we have such a big variety of temps here in middle tennessee. Even in Maine I think they get big swings in temperatures too. The weather worldwide is really weird.

    Mom, you and David were great about not complaining about the extreme heat in August. I brag about it all the time. You know how I complain when I come to Maine and it is cold. Wintertime I expect it, but not in the summer. Oh well, such is life. You enjoy the snow up there! Don't want any here except maybe once per year and we usually get it here. Don't you remember when you came down in February 2002 and it snowed? The south is not bad at all.

    My mother thinks cold is better for arthritis. I tell her no. Why do you think everyone moves south when they get older? Anyone else have an opinion. I think that is part of the reason she likes it up north so much. Two of her daughters are in the north and two in the south. Go figure.

  22. Snowbirds go south for the winter for the joints and bone aches and so as to not shovel snow! Most everyone in the Saints parents retirement community, have a winter home in Florida...

  23. So true...who wants to shovel snow?