Of all the many parts of our recent farmhouse restoration, I am the most excited about the small but tidy little garden just outside my kitchen door. For this North Carolina farm girl who has found herself just outside New York City, my ambitions are perhaps a bit larger than the garden itself! But this doesn’t stop me from day-dreaming and planning and waiting impatiently for Spring.
As sketches were made, I knew the garden had to be easily accessible from the kitchen for herbs and veggies for cooking but it also had to be in a spot where I can enjoy a quiet morning coffee and the New York Times before my little boys wake up. With a bit of rearranging and the removal of a few very large rocks, we discovered the small area outside my south-facing kitchen was the perfect little plot and it enjoys the first hint of sunlight that comes over the hill in the morning.
Despite its modest size, my garden has taken quite a lot of planning. Such a blank slate can overwhelm when you consider the infinite possibilities for flowers, plantings and herbs. However, nature has given me some real limitations to work within. Namely, our outsized deer and bunny populations who’d be simply delighted to discover a vegetable garden one day! Much to their disappointment, I’m researching what my options are that will keep us all out of trouble.
Before I can get to the fun part though, the hard part: specifically, the hard-scaping that will give the garden it’s structure. I’d always imagined this house with a picket fence, though I believe strongly that a little picket goes a long way! Restraint is in order when installing any kind of fence that can take the focus away from your home. The size of this garden lends itself perfectly to the New England style of picket and that is what we created to neatly frame the perimeter.
The interior of the garden is laid out in a “four square” design (rectangles to be exact), taking its structure from the lovely herringbone pathway that crosses the garden. The intersection of the pathway has an inlaid circle of slate that draws your eye towards the center. I can imagine a pagoda or urn sitting there one day when all is planted and lush. Petite boxwoods frame each section of the garden and will give me just enough greenery to enjoy this winter as I plan out what delicious and lovely seedlings will go inside.
Entering the garden should be as much an experience as being inside and should give you the sense that you’re leaving the more open and unplanned yard and are about to experience something special. To achieve that feeling, we laid naturally cleft stones found on the hill behind the house into a rugged pathway leading up to the fence gate. The combination of the rough-edged stones with the regularity of the fence is nice contrast.
And so with that, the garden has found its structure and the fun part can begin. Aaaah. Hurry up Spring. I can hardly wait to get my hands dirty.