Building structure

Physically, gardens must have boundaries. Mentally, they can reach to the limits of the known universe. ~Tom Turner

The first significant snowfall of the season brought out the beauty of the garden and its bones, its structure. Devoid of color, the 4″ of fresh white snow highlighted the shapes of fences and arbors, benches and shrubs, the lines of tree limbs and last year’s grasses.

You mustn’t rely on your flowers to make your garden attractive. A good bone structure must come first . .  no matter what time of year. Flowers are an added delight, but a good garden is the garden you enjoy looking at even in the depths of winter. ~Margery Fish

The patterns of paths and plantings were a mere suggestion where the snow fell most heavily. circlegarden

The weeping cherry tree marks the center of the garden of circles. cherrycircle

Even as I begin to plan this year’s garden and plant the seeds of flowers, the structure of the garden speaks quietly to me in the depths of winter – “build . . . build . . . you will not regret it.”

A garden is half-made when it is well planned. The best gardener is the one who does the most gardening by the winter fire. ~Liberty Hyde Bailey

This coming spring will mark 19 years of making this garden, but for the past few years, I have struggled with  natural disasters that have rearranged the garden structure as well as struggling with mobility issues of my own. We had our our small upper deck rebuilt last March – we knew it needed repairs but the builders discovered that it was built improperly and rotting within. The rebuild was perfectly executed and we were able to add an attractive cedar ceiling on the underside of the deck, an unexpected bonus.

In July, lightening struck a massive white oak near the house, damaging it beyond saving and wreaking havoc on the electrical systems of the house. It took months to repair everything and the dying tree was removed in October. (Angel inspects the oak tree in happier times)angelsnowtreeThis month, we enclosed the space where the oak had stood and extended the tall fencing almost to our property boundaries, adding privacy around our patio and a safe entrance from the house into the enclosed woods for Angel. Later this summer we will add another arbor to mark the entrance gate like this one on the other side of the house.

Snowy arbor

My own physical structure has required some rebuilding as well. Arthritis and bursitis has kept me out of the garden for the past two years and at times I wondered if I would ever really garden again. Fortunately, physical therapy and multiple lifestyle changes have restored a great deal of my mobility over the past few months. I realize now that the garden and I have moved through de-struction and re-building together, partners of a sort. It has been a challenging journey for us both but one with lasting rewards . . . and just in time for spring.

All gardens are a form of autobiography. ~Robert Dash

35 thoughts on “Building structure

  1. Just found this. Beautiful winter garden. I appreciate the natural diaste

    I appreciate the natural disasters. We’ve lost a large tree to drought and an ancient apple tree to wind. I’m not even weeding just now because I need every bit of ground cover for lack of rain again. Keep on keeping on, Lynn

  2. For the times, they are a-changing: the first significant snowfall not till mid-February. That’s not what we grew up with in the Northeast.

    I’m glad to hear that lifestyle changes have restored a lot of your mobility.

  3. Your garden and photos are beautiful. I’m sure that the garden has missed you as much as you have missed digging in. I’m so glad you are feeling better. It will be a glorious spring for both of you!

  4. I love how you talk about the your physical rebuilding and the remaking of the garden are intertwined. It is perfectly said, and it rings true. Having seen your garden over several years, in all seasons, I also share your delight in it’s bones, evident in the season-without-leaves. Much of this speaks to me as I contemplate deep rebuilding projects on the first floor of my lake house this spring. I imagine it as an apartment for artists and musicians; it’s full of light and the view is of the lake. See you soon! Doug

    • You’ve seen the garden since its first season, Doug, and have helped put up fences and prepped for visitors, so you are a part of it too 🙂 Yes, you are in major rebuilding mode right now – I love that idea of having a space to welcome artists and musicians. We look forward to your visit!

  5. Your well stocked garden, like Marjory Fish’s in Somerset, offers pleasures for all seasons, including the snow. Sorry to hear about your health problems. I hope they won’t stop you enjoying your garden fully this year.

    • Thank you, Richard. As you might imagine, I’m a big fan of Marjory Fish, I have all of her books and have always wanted to visit her garden. I’m definitely on the mend and starting to work in the garden already – I imagine that your garden is starting to awaken now.

      • Good to hear you’ve started in the garden. Yes, ours is beginning slowly, but we’ve been rather battered by recent storms. It’s sad to see our purple spread of naturalised Crocus tommasinianus flattened by the rain.

  6. Oof, you’ve been through a lot. Glad that you and your garden have both been on the mend. Trees and hardscape make an enormous difference. When we added the circular brick patio to our back garden it added so much more than I expected. And the new driveway of red pavers I expect will make a big positive difference next year.

    • I agree, Jason, hardscape can make a startling difference to the look of the garden. Some of that I think is the contrast between the softness of plants and the hard lines of built materials. I think of it as the yin and yang of the garden 🙂

  7. Dash’s quote is a good one for your post, Lynn. Similar energies have been at work in multiple places, you’ve responded well and things are improving. The double deck with the spiral staircase and all that cedar is gorgeous – what a great place to relax. How strange that the lightning strike had such far-reaching ramifications, but that’s nature! I’m glad things are turning around as you approach the busy season. I’ve been dealing with lots of PT too lately, trying to deal with spine and neck issues that aren’t helped by all the time at the computer. But the exercises have been really good. We just have to adjust so many things as we get older! Damn. 😉 Good to hear from you though, and the photos are inspiring. 🙂

    • It’s always wonderful to have you stop by and share your insights, Lynn I love that quote – I’ve been sorting through garden images this past winter and seeing even more connections between the garden and my other creative pursuits.

      We saw that lightening strike from 4 miles away – we were traveling home from a 4th of July picnic and were almost blinded by it. Fortunately, Angel was with us and not in the house. The tree took the initial hit, then it traveled down the trunk and jumped onto the house. Just one more weird event in a season of them. I’m just happy to be back at it in the garden and on the blog 🙂

      • Wow, mind-boggling. I’m sure you feel lucky that you were all away from the epicenter. Lightning does strange things. But you landed on your two feet, as did the garden and the house. That’s good! And we’re coming into Spring….that’s double good. 🙂 Take care!

  8. I love your garden, it is well-planned and beautifully structured. Nature does have a way of altering things though and after 4 years of owning my small garden I have finally realised that it is the wind that is the biggest problem for my planting. Low growing plants and small shrubs/perennial plants seem to be the way to go. I am sorry to hear about your health issues, growing older does seem to come with assorted aches and pains, but I find pottering in my garden keeps me sane and happy. At this time of the year when continuous storms keep me indoors I get cabin fever! It looks an awful lot colder where you are though!
    Thanks for the winter wander Lynn 😍

  9. You have done so well to overcome those structural disasters. In the end the garden will always be ones special space. My garden is fairly small but has three seating areas so I can view it from different aspects

    • Diana, thank you for stopping by – I love having different seats in the garden! The changes in structure have improved my garden, even though it was challenging. I planted seeds today, so the garden season is underway.

  10. Very happy that you’ve weathered all these storms and are feeling up to meeting spring with energy and well-earned resilience, Lynn! I hope you’ll have a lovely year of gardening ahead, and one that’s free of disasters and full of sweet surprises.

  11. Maturation of both garden and body is never an ‘easy’ task. So glad you are doing so much better and I look forward to seeing the beauty of spring and summer in your garden this year. The black and white of the winter scenes is most enjoyable but the joints appreciate the warmth better!

    • Graham, thank you for your help with recommendations – the “maturation” process has been interesting. I have been able to do some vigorous work in the garden for the first time in a while, which is very exciting. Hope to see you in the garden sometime this summer!

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