It was high summer the first time we saw the house. The yard had umpteen trees, but I didn't see any fallen leaves. The patios and yard were pristine. I never really thought what would happen when autumn arrived, seeing as I'd lived on a bald hilltop for a decade. Trees were a novelty. I hadn't raked a leaf in years.
Tyler and Zap, late Summer 2014.
After we bought the property, it looked stark without the previous owner's beautiful touches. In fact, the whole place looked tired and sad. The empty house had lost its sparkle and personality.
By this time, the house wasn't empty, but the patio sure wasn't tidy. Clean-up would have to wait a bit longer, because winter was on the way.
Waterlogged leaves piled up in front of the pool house (and everywhere else). At this point, blowing them with our dinky blower was an exercise in futility. We needed a shovel.
The clean up begins.
Finally, the leaves are gone, but during the winter, a few billion had managed to slip beneath the pool cover, turning the water into a place where The Creature from the Deep might live.
Now that we are starting to clean the area, we see what must be done. For one thing, the concrete needs power washing.
Here and there, I'm trying to make the space cozy and functional. A few more potted flowers would add cheer. An umbrella would add a holiday mood. Bandwidth needs to find a spot to store his grilling stuff (charcoal, tongs, etc). And we'll need to haul the pool cover to the barn. The space under the balcony has potential (I just can't see it yet).
Lighting is a problem. The exterior lanterns (round room) were misplaced during the remodeling, and by the time I unearthed them, the electricians were booked. But we'll get them installed eventually. Also, last summer, when stone was installed in the sun room, many faux stones (not pictured) were left behind. By the way, they are just as heavy as real ones. After carting them to the garage, I spent three days with a heating pad, taking Advil. Luckily, I bounced back, ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
Even though we still have lots of cleaning to do, I just had to "nest." You may remember my little iron and glass table. Here's an old photo:
It found a home on the patio. I've been in a painting frenzy here lately, and that's a good thing because the table and chairs need a little love.
I bought a steel brush and white paint.
Before the 94 degree temps hit, I planted a few hydrangeas. I've been watering them every evening, but they could probably use an AM watering, too.
Update: I just got word that the lanterns will be installed. Yay!
Let's walk around the pool house. Five gorgeous pink hydrangeas are blooming here.
You can see why we have a billion leaves, right? But I do love this tree.
Here is a photo of the Memory Garden, early spring 2016.
I tried to remove the dead rose bushes, but I was too puny.
Early June, 2016.
I have many dreams for this garden, but it's the sort of place that will be landscaped in segments--body, mind, and pocketbook willing. The rose bushes are still there, and, bless their hearts, they are trying to leaf out. My mother told me to sprinkle Epsom Salt around the base of the magnolia, as it looks sickly, all of a sudden.
On the other side of the Memory Garden, a small (empty) garden is bordered by burning bushes. I love the stepping stones.
There's so much to do at this house, it's easy to get overwhelmed. I constantly remind myself that progress has been made. I'm slow. But I'm getting there bit by bit. So far, I've cleaned and fixed up the upper porch and the lower porch (I call it the "Underporch").
I tidied the "plant experiment" section, including Arbor Day trees and three grafted apple trees.
And I painted a few old tables.
The pool area is a special case. You can't turn your back on it a second.
A guest told us that the previous owners had waged war against the leaves. They cleaned the pool every day, but they still needed a pool service. Also, they blew off the concrete daily. That sounds like a plan. Heaven knows I need the exercise.
And you never know who'll stop by.
Today, while I was working on the patio, I heard a lady-like meow. I looked up at the balcony and spotted the neighborhood cat. I meowed back (and I'm not ashamed to admit that at all :-)).
She's a very sweet little visitor.
I named her Gladys.