So here is a look back from the driveway. The Garden Grotto featured in the posts prior to this is back behind this young grove of ornamental “Shirotae” Cherries. The lawn we mounded somewhat and placed a few boulders in, just to break up the lines a bit and to provide some interest. The dog here I thought I might remove, but I like looking at him, knowing he stole so many of our lunches just to remind me I will probably outlive him. A true cur he was, too, although he sucked up well, lol. Hey, we run into lots of these guys. They tend to show up for lunch times, expressing their uncanny political abilities by almost always achieving some sort of edible treat. Naturally, then they make a habit out of it. This one became quite the “pal”. And he gained weight on this project, I am willing to bet.
This home also had cement edge stripping installed around all of its grass lawns. I believe there was something like 1,200 feet in all. It makes a very perfect edge and is ten times easier to maintain. Sturdy and long-lasting, the tires of a lawn mower can rest in it while mowing without any ill effect. It also addresses the tendency of bluegrass to rhizome outward and make it far more controllable. I love the stuff, myself.
This shot goes across the top of our little Garden Grotto towards the front yard and the driveway and street. The trees at the top I arranged to be a grove of ornamental cherries (Shirotae’s) which make a spectacular Springtime look. Inasmuch as this was taken soon after completing the project, their growth is not as visible or rewarding as the current look offers, 4 years later. The branches are all nearly touching now and the blooms tend to the spectacular. There are abundant perennials planted throughout the trees near the edges of the upraised planter walls as well. One of our grasses is visible in the foreground. I absolutely love the modern grass trend. They are hardy and make a fabulous garden addition.
We placed a meandering band of lawn, seen here at the top of this picture and which I will give a view of tomorrow, from the driveway itself, connecting generally with this aspect. Naturally, the Garden Grotto will not be seen from there, which was the initial purpose of this little sunken hideaway in the first place.
In this picture, we reveal the small water feature, our “little Lourdes”, embedded in the rocks to the top. A kneeling figurine prays there, lending some placidity and a serene contemplative subject for the eye. As can also be seen, we dealt with potential drainage issues in such a trapped little scenario by making a sort of French Drain around the base of all the rock walls and connected to a pipe which we ran under the walls and the soil to the rear of the property, where it “daylights” and drains.
Playing around with my blog, the budding geek in me updated all this cool stuff. Yes, I had abundant help, lol. I am particularly fond of my new ability to enlarge these thumbnail pictures. So let me play a bit. It am using this picture because of its gentle pastels and the nice deep greens. Frankly, I just want to see what it looks like and if I like it, it will stay. It was a fun project, this one, for Steve and Mary, good friends and a great couple who did as much work on their place as I did. No…….more.
Anyway, here goes!
We had a client with a most religious orientation. He was Catholic and he was intimately involved with his church and things related to it. A very nice man who wanted a private and peaceful spot for his meditations. He is in a moderately-populated neighborhood, so the idea of a recessed area with some religious motifs around is what he very directly asked for. This would give him not only privacy, but the quiet he so craved. We excavated a huge hole about 50 feet round and 6 feet deep. We would use a floor of sand for a soft subsurface, put a ‘crust’ of decomposed granite about two inches thick on top of that and put a couple of rocks in strategic locations, perfect for sitting and relaxing. For walls, we used local rocks and tried to go for a sort of early Romanesque look, a little primitive, yet stacked nicely. The rocks add a sense of permanence to the overall effect. We placed a few Christian Themes around: a grotto, recessed in the wall, which would double as the “Tomb of Jesus”, an opening into which he placed his own very interesting Salvador Dali print of “Gaia On The Cross”.
The visible plants here are two Viburnums opulus ‘Roseum’ flanking the “Crypt” and a creamy Tree Hydrangea behind. Others include junipers and some lavender, for scent. I always try and make them smell. I’m bad enough, that way they forget about me quickly. We also put a number of smaller grasses around with some perennial color, including this pitch black bloomed Hollyhock plant.
We also made a small fountain, bubbling in small amounts but audible and visible, to double as a sort of Lourdes. He placed statues around appropriately, for example The Pieta by the “Tomb”. It is a delightful area, rather serious, very quiet. The privacy was achieved immediately, simply by the depth of the structure. As plants develop, it will only increase the sense of isolation and privacy. It is a place of repose and meditation, an interesting project for us, and the client was delighted.