Garden Diary: On the level

After a two week hiatus, my garden helpers came last Friday and worked valiently through a cold, windy day. Heavy rain earlier in the week had made the frozen ground workable. To level the surface around the new pool, they removed the gravel from a large area behind it, dug out about a cubic yard of earth, and relaid the geotextile weed barrier and gravel.

The ground plane surrounding the pool is now level–very level compared to this older photo, where you’ll see the ground surface rises substantially behind and to the right of the pool.

FT Jan burn stone wall rebuilt 095 uneven

We also laid paving in a sitting out area in a back corner of the garden (below). The bench is positioned with a hornbeam hedge at its back and on one side. The shrubs, invisible here, are about 30 inches tall going into their third year, so I hope for a substantial wall and a feeling of intimacy and protection in two or three more years.

FT New seating and leveled pool area 064

This view back to the house shows how an existing path through the garden flows into the area of the new reflecting pool, giving the impression it was all designed to work as an ensemble. In fact, the idea of linkage was always in my mind, though I wasn’t sure what I might be linking until recently.

FT New seating and leveled pool area 077

From the house, the square shape of the new paved area reflects the square pool across the garden, with both linked visually by this sinuous path. Throwing the square of paving out into the far edge of the garden has created a sense of destination, and a pleasing feeling of conclusion.

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15 thoughts on “Garden Diary: On the level

  1. James,
    You took all the critiquing and digested it to make the pool area fit perfectly with both the garden and the house. All in a very short time. It looks terrific. You should be very pleased. I like all this angles of the new wall and house and pool. The path in the last shot is very pleasing to the eye. Forget what I had said about rectangular pavement and curving paths–I now see that I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. Well done.

    1. Michael,
      Looking at the date and time on your comment, it’s Feb. 6 at 2:04 am where you are. In Brookly, it’s Feb. 5 at 9:42 pm. I wonder if this is a problem with my blog or with your computer.

      Thanks for the positive comment. I have to admit I’m sort of flying blind on this one. That path that links the reflecting pool with the outer sitting area is part of a line of features I started several years ago. It begins with the linear clay pond near the far side of the house, continues with a linear raised stone planter with a “Wirtz-like” line of box woods, which is in turn continued by the path out to the far sitting area. You only see all this when the garden is bare in the spring. Once growth starts, all these features disappear. Well, not quite, but their relationships are obscured. Perhaps one feels the way through. I, of course, want to rip out the garden, bring in the bull dozers, and do an imitation Tom Stuart-Smith garden. Ha! Good I can’t afford that.

      1. Does anybody really know what time it is??!! I’m glad your have to watch your pocketbook. It would a shame to bulldoze this garden just as it taking off. I’m sure there is room for a few TSS inspirations that may develop in the future and that will be imitation enough.

  2. You reallywork fast once your decisions are amde, I like that! I was surprised I really liked the way the path starts narrow, then widens out before curving, in theory that shouldn’t work but it certainly does here. Just shows that thrwowing out the rule book is sometimes a good idea. Or maybe it is knowing the rules and WHEN to break them. I love your garden and reading your thought processes. Christina

    1. Thank you, Christina. I have to admit the path that widens was originally planned as a seating area in the middle of the plantings–a too narrow seating area–but I’ve not been overly concerned to change it. It, in fact, works in that way and I put two chairs there in summer, but it also became an alternate path simply because it’s pleasurable to walk though and it provides options for moving around the garden.

  3. James, getting things done in the bleakness of winter allows you to see more realistically. I mean by that that all of us get a better eye-line in winter. I can see what you mean by a sense of arrival up to the house, how the paths suggest it and the square pool reinstates that sense of arrival to something less random.
    I really like the position of your bench! Though it must be bloody cold, there’s something that says ‘never mind’.

    1. Faisal, yes, you can see a lot more in winter. I can’t wait to finish cleaning up the garden, I hope before we have a large snowfall. The opportunities created for linkages by the new pool area and the sitting area (being highly visible features at least from some vantage points) have set me to thinking about other approaches to linkage–to other parts of the garden, to views into the woods, and to the whold concept of the surrounding woodland. I do wish I didn’t have to live with an 8-foot deer exclusion fence. Quite a barrier.

    1. Yes, Rob, in the nick of time. Though I was in the south for the blizzard, I hear we got only four inches at Federal Twist. Saved. But without warm temps to melt it, I won’t be able to continue my projects next weekend. I don’t understand your comment on deer but, yes, bloody deer. Like giant rats destroying the forest.

      1. James about the deer. Figure of speech, they’re a pain in the arse and having to erect a fence – that said, I think they are beautiful animals which are just a little too succesful. I believe their numbers are excessive over there as they are here.

        1. Rob, I can see their beauty, but this winter, young deer have penetrated my 8-foot-high fench for the first time. I chase them down because they are too dumb to see an opened gate, and they cower at my feet, then I feel pity. But this is a problem. I think I’ve fixed it my adding height to the wooden fence next to the house. Our deer population is enormous. They actually eat the forest understory, so the forest is not able to regenerate. We need a deer predator species and that has been lost. I pray for a return of coyotes in large numbers. We do have some and need more.

  4. What a lovely flow that path gives, and as Christina says, the widening and then narrowing looks intentional even if you have just incorporated a “failed” feature into the whole. It all looks very established already, the sign of good design, and I do like the way the rectangular pool and lines of the wall relate back to the house. Wish I had some willing helpers to come and make such quick work of a lot of earth moving…

  5. Hi!
    I don´t know if you are the person who wrote a comment on my blog about adding a feedburner so you could get updates. If you are I just wanted to let you know that I have added a feedburner and also I want to thank you for telling me about it.

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