Monday, August 30, 2010

Creating the Front Door Path

Chapter 4

The hardest part about gardening here at Cheesecake Farms is that we have so much available land to plant.  Now, I realize that to many of you who have tiny spaces that this seems like a dream come true but to try to visualize our whole farm with completed gardens is over whelming.

Many years ago, we had 10 or so acres lumbered to make pastures.  The trees were taken away to be made into paper but the stumps were left behind.  They had to be removed with a bull dozer before grass was planted in the open areas.  It was a massive project and too months but now the pastures have settled in and we're ready to create our own garden of Eden in the surrounding areas.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we began with the main house (which we call the Mane House Inn - since we have a horse themed bed and breakfast on the farm). 

The easiest way to begin any gardening project is to with the permanent structures that you already have (or are planning to add) and work around it, branching out as you go.  For us, the house was the obvious place to start.  After a few years of adding massive amounts of organic material into the solid clay the builder left behind, the soil is finally ready to plant.
These are the bare bones
 of the soon to be
cottage garden in front
 of the Mane House.

Originally I had envisioned a perfectly manicured, rich green lawn but lawns need mowing - an additional job I don't need and one that I don't want to have to pay someone to do.  Plus, we have so much pasture all around us that a lawn in front of the house would be boring.   

I've already started an herb garden around the kitchen door (which faces the front of the house and has an English cottage garden feel) so my plan is now to extend that cottage feel across the entire front of the house.  I want to create a lush garden that only requires a minimum amount of work once it gets established.

I've fallen in love with Knock Out roses and will use them to anchor the garden area.  Perennials will fill in the garden evolves.  The kitchen garden is pink and purple so the pink will be continued adding lots of white around the formal front double door.  White, I find, is cool looking in our hot Virginia summers. 

I've already put in a couple a trees and bushes plus 3 pale yellow Knock Outs which fade to creamy white.  The house, by the way, is white with black shutters. 

Front door
The Mane House Inn

The oversized path is easy
to make from wood chip 
I started the garden by defining a front walk way.  It's a short walk from the circular drive in front of the house to the door so there wasn't enough space for a curved path.  Sometimes a straight line is actually the best and shortest distance between two points.  The path is dramatic and over sized - about 6 feet wide - to be the same width as and balance the double door.  The door is stained a red - brown pine color. 

I had some old timbers which were perfect to define the width of the path.  I placed them end to end on top of the soil and dug them in just enough to level and stabilize.  The timbers were about 4 inches thick so it was easy to create the path by simply filling in with 3 inches of large, wood chip mulch.  That left 1 inch of space (to the top of the timbers) to allow for rain to soak into the mulch rather than wash it away - much in the same way that you leave a little bit of space between the dirt and the top of a flower pot so water will soak into the pot and not run off the plant. 

I used mulch for the path for two reasons.  One, because I had a lot of it around from trees we had to cut down and, two, because like many gardeners, I like to work an area for a while before deciding on permanent, expensive, heavy to lug hard space like flag stone, pebbles or pea gravel. 

You'll notice some lilies in the bottom right of the path picture. I got them before I was ready for them so I just planted them.  I'll be moving them later this fall.


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