… on haven-ly visions (also, critters)

Okay, so.


The seeds of the idea for additions and changes in next season’s garden usually begin to sprout (pun absolutely intended) in January.

It happens like this:

I’ll be all kinds of post-holiday cozy, at the desk in my potting room-slash-office, looking out at falling snow (or fallen snow, or soon to be snow) and the idea of spring will begin to permeate the ol’ brain membrane, suddenly I’m wondering when the seed catalogs begin to arrive… I’ll swear it’s in, like, a week… and soon my mind’s eye is wandering over and through the gardens.

The view from different spaces…

Layered elements…

Stone walls, cedar fences gone grey…



Scents and sounds…


It’s a lot.

Well, for me it is not a lot. It’s a creative cloud nine. For JoHn – oh poor JoHn – it is a lot. The phrase, “So I’ve been thinking…” has him reaching for another cup of coffee or a bottle of red, depending on the time of day (or sometimes not).

With those first inspirational waftings, I’ll unroll the master garden plan on my kitchen counter. Drawn on, added to, erased from over the course of nearly fifteen seasons, it’s pretty much a mess. But it makes sense to me. I’ll go back to my notes from the past season, look at the hardscape elements, consider color combinations and structure and bloom times. And dream.

After many hours of searching and considering (and measuring and sketching and researching and…), this year’s ‘big project’ was all about hardscape. I had a vision of granite posts, a pair at the foot of the driveway on the house side, and another pair flanking the opening in the rugosa roses on the waterside. Each visually connecting both spaces. From the posts would hang simple cedar gates, each pair spanning about fifteen feet.


‘Big project’ is indicative of ‘need help, possibly including a large machine’. So I e-mailed Michelle – the landscape architect-y and design person who I’ve been counting on to translate my crazy (and tough-to-decipher (Gawd bless her)) ideas into reality since the beginning of all of this. I included my sketches and a description and, once we were sure we were on the same page, we agreed on a budget and then…

I waited.

And waited.

And months went by.

And then the whole summer was behind me!

What was I waiting for?


Okay not just any granite.

Old granite.

My friend Pam said that she didn’t understand that there was any such thing as ‘new’ granite. Okay, so ba-ha-ha-ha-Pam. All granite is technically millions of years old (and kudos to Pam for such a great and nerdy sense of humor).

Thing is, I am a big fan of reclaimed, antique granite. That which was quarried and put to use more than a hundred years ago (two hundred is even better), and can be reused by… well… me.

Often it has been hoarded collected by some old guy, somewhere way out in the middle of a town I don’t recognize the name of. Someone tells someone about someone’s cousin who lives near some guy who has some old posts or steps or… (this is totally true).

Having been encouraged toward patience (not my forte), I was thrilled to get a call in mid-September from Ryan (Michelle’s  husband and partner). He was standing amongst six, gorgeous, super old granite posts. “Get ’em all!” I glee’d. And he did.

Two weeks later, he and his crew (and their very cool machine that the giant drill above attaches to) showed up.

A few days later, I had cool posts and gates (okay, and also a new ‘welcome’ garden bed with a heap of little sedums, chives, thyme, and junipers). The two ‘extra’ posts now line the driveway as if they had been there forever. I figure old houses have many mysteries – even ‘new old’ mysteries.

And the gates?

Also new old mysteries.

They will remain open, acting as arbors for rambling roses to ‘climb’ onto and over. In time, they’ll weather to silver-grey, aging gates hung on posts that look as if they’ve been around since about circa 1830, just like the house and barn . Yay!


Oh, yeah, there is a but.

The roses will have to wait until next spring, and right now I am having a problem.

All excited to welcome my new old posts into the ways of this home and garden, the other day I headed out with ‘The Ladies’ (Blaze and Belle) to a nearby – okay 40 minutes away but it’s my favorite – farm stand to acquire some exclamation points for fall.

My plan was to get six little sugar pumpkins, for the tops of my posts, and then some larger ones for a nice gourd-y, autumnal display.

I was successful in my quest (overly so (apple cider donuts (don’t judge))) and headed home. I pulled into the driveway and got out, placing my little pumpkins on their posts. Then I went back to place the half-dozen larger pumpkins in the spots they will occupy until they get mooshy (at which time I will relocate them to the woods for creature consumption).

That was three days ago.

Yesterday, I looked out and realized one of my pumpkins was not on its designated post.

I went to see what had happened to it, expecting the wind had knocked it off, and I couldn’t find it! I couldn’t imagine a critter ate it all, leaving no seeds or pumpkin guts or anything. I looked around some more. Sure enough, I found it. Not a bite or a scratch to be seen, it was under some bushes… hidden.

You can see one set of new gates (and garden bed) in the background. If you zoom in you can even see the ONE pumpkin on ONE of the posts.

I put it back.

Late that afternoon, as the sun was going down, I saw that another little pumpkin had disappeared from its perch. I went to investigate and… same thing. Pumpkin ‘gone’, found about twenty feet away in some other bushes.

I put it back.

Then, THEN, this morning.

One pumpkin gone.

I go out.

It’s right beside the post…. like THIS…

Oh. It is on. And I mean it!


Not really.

The overall vision for the house and gardens has always been as a haven, inside and out… to welcome family and friends (old and new (even the furry, scale-y, wart-y ones) in, and hope they enjoy the same sense of cozy wonder, in this magical place, that we do.

So I turned the pumpkin around, non-nibbled side out, and figured that – if it lasts until Halloween – the critters are just helping me hollow them out so I can put candles inside.

I’ll try to keep in mind that Welcome, Warmth, and Cozy are some pretty amazing parting gifts…

Even if they are taken in the form of munched pumpkin.

Thanks for readin’.

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