In the Beginning

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In the beginning of the newest, and we hope the very last incarnation of the Fairegarden, click here for the pictorial post of the traumatic move …

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there began the creation of a new backyard garden in the blank slate of mown crabgrass lawn with a truckload of planting mix dumped into a pile. It was six cubic yards of goodness.

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First there was dirt, then there were plants unceremoniously stuck into that dirt. Hosta ‘White Feather’, assorted daylilies with dislodged tags and some Hydrangea arborens ‘Annabelle’, all looking very sad for it was the middle of a droughty east Tennessee August.

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Time marches on and more plants were added to the nursery bed. A sprinkler was set up to try to keep these small bits of treasured friends alive until proper beds could be constructed in the seemingly distant future. The menagerie of garden art and accoutrements was stacked willy nilly out of the way, including the dear blue chairs.

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A project was begun in the back garden after many renovations were hammered out inside the house. It had great potential for inducing happiness in a sad gardener missing the fall show in her beloved former masterpiece.

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Some days were more exciting than others. The concrete truck barely fit between the houses and could not get through the gate of the dilapidated fence. Strong men would have to wheelbarrow the heavy mix in the mud to the framed base, for there had been torrential rains for several days that delayed the pour. At least the nursery of plants did not need the sprinkler running to keep their thirsts quenched.

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The sun came out just at the right time for the spreading of the concrete by two dedicated workmen, Tom on the left and Joe on the right. Did I mention that it was muddy?

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A frame sprung up, and it was good.

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There were portals to gaze out upon the garden and allow light into the structure, using the salvaged windows that were removed from the previous house because they had clouded up.

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There was an old door from the contractor’s shop that would give character to the new shed. Tears of joy ran down my face when Tom and Joe showed it to me.

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Walls, a roof and support posts for the small porches were added. The vision was becoming a reality.

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There was priming and painting. The original color, Sherwin Williams Foggy Day was much too blue and not the desired dark grey at all. A quick run to the paint store for a gallon of solid black that was added to the two gallons of Foggy Day already poured into the sprayer bucket saved the day. Black Fog turned out to be the perfect color.

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Some leftover fourteen year old paint of Dorcester Green was just right for the trim around the door and windows. More colors were planned but art is knowing when to stop. The little Fairegarden bench, click here for it’s birth story, just fit under the two foot overhang in front. Tom hung the large Westminster wind chime at the corner. It just fit as though the space had been made for it. The roof extension on the left side provides a workspace for a potting bench out of the hot sun and sometimes rain.

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Benches and plants were moved inside, just in time as the first frost was looming in the weather forecast. The orchids and tender annuals that were to be mother plants for cuttings were safely ensconced in the sun warmed space when the cold hit.

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Tool racks were hung inside to hold the shovels and forks. Outside, some décor has been attached. Large rocks were used to make an entryway that was less muddy. My grandmother’s wrought iron seating set looks right at home in front. Gravel will be added at some point to make a small patio there. The wire trough planter at the bottom of the picture is sitting on the deck railing. A deck post can just be seen at the bottom of the image, as well. This is the view from the deck that is located right outside the kitchen. The shed is to be the focal point as the garden beds are made and planted around it.

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It is gratifying to have made this progress towards the vision. Bees and butterflies have been visiting the nursery bed. Aster tataricus ‘Jin Dai’ did not fail to bloom despite being moved at the worst possible time. In the opening shot of this post, a newly purchased Eupatorium ‘Little Joe’ also gave succor to pollinators. It is now time for a little rest.

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But not for long!


There are many projects to come. Contractors have been contacted. They have come to the house and listened to my plans. They will work up estimates that are acceptable to us both. Then there is scheduling. Nothing happens fast enough for my liking, but we are trudging onward. Stay tuned for more to come.


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40 Responses to In the Beginning

  1. Diane says:

    Such a great progression already.

    Hi Diane, thanks for visiting. The shed makes a big impact already in a garden yet to be made.

  2. Barbara H. says:

    Oh joy, it has begun! So happy to see this post as I have been wondering how the new garden was progressing. That’s a very large blank slate, Frances.

    Hi Barbara, thanks for the warm response. I have nearly forgotten how to make a blog post, do the pictures, add links and code. It takes much longer now than it used to. But so does everything else. HA There are plans for this blank slate as they occur to me what should be where. It is much smaller than the old garden, especially in back, but it is somewhat level and that makes all the difference for an aging gardener. Next up, the fence is being replaced. Then the new beds can be started!

  3. Debra says:

    Nice shed. These things always seem to take so much more time than a person might expect =)

    So true, Debra, thanks for stopping by. Not only do they take more time, they cost more. Always.

  4. Pam/Digging says:

    The creative process is underway! I look forward to seeing how your new garden develops, Frances.

    Hi Pam, thanks for following along. I remember well when you left your wonderful garden and the fun you had making a new one. It gave me hope.

  5. VP says:

    How exciting! You may be sad for your former garden, but I’m sure in time you’ll be glad to call this garden home. Time and love will make it more so 🙂 xxx

    Hi VP, thanks so much for the encouraging words. I have tried not to be sad for the old garden. It helps that I can’t drive by and see it, although I have a dentist appointment in that town in a couple of weeks and will have to see how it is doing without me. Someday this new house and garden will feel like home, I hope. We are not there yet. xoxoxo

  6. Katherine Baker says:

    Hi Frances, it’s so nice to “hear” your voice again on your blog. I have missed you. Wow, another move. Now you have a fresh blank slate upon which to create your next masterpiece. I look forward to watching it evolve. Happy planting! : ))))

    Hi Kathy, thanks so much for stopping by. You know all about moving, that’s for certain! The blank slate garden that folks sometimes wish for is mine now. The vision for what it should be has been slow in revealing itself but is beginning to appear. I hope you and yours are well and happy.

  7. Jean says:

    Nice, Frances! It is very exciting to see your vision take shape, isn’t it? Love that blue-ish color.

    Hi Jean and Happy Birthday! I had wanted the shed to be a charcoal grey. This has a lot of blue in it, but I am very happy with how it looks in the landscape. The colorful leaves of Admirial Semmes deciduous azalea, a surprise find on the marked down rack at Lowe’s in Asheville, look regal against that shade.

  8. srmc207 says:

    I am so happy to see you posting again; I have missed you chronicling the seasonal changes and rampant growth in your garden. If you are only an hour from the previous incarnation of the Fairegarden, will you be able to visit and obtain cuttings?

    Thanks for reading! Sadly, that house has been sold and I will not return for cuttings or visit. I brought everything with me that I could and will buy new things as the need arises, like trees and shrubs to start.

  9. Gittan says:

    Hi Frances! Wow it sure looks like a huge garden and a lot of lawn 🙂 I love the shed, it looks as if it´s been there for a long time. I´m sure you´ll make a wonderful garden of that space and I look forward to join the journey.
    Lots of Kramar / Gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks for visiting. The back yard is oddly shaped but offers lots of level space to plant into. The shed makes me so happy every time I look outside. It is even better from the inside! Triple kram to you!

  10. Kathleen says:

    You left such a legacy behind Frances. It has to be bittersweet. New beginnings are full of promise though and your garden already has the look of a lot of that!!!!!

    Thanks, Kathleen. The old garden was wonderful, I cannot deny it. But the promise of something newly created can also be wonderful. The vision is beginning to form in my brain, finally. It took its sweet time and I needed an attitude adjustment about the whole move.

  11. Donna Baylor says:

    Have missed your posts…..Phoenix out of the ashes……beauty begins once more. Best wishes!

    Hi Donna, thanks so much. We are hoping for beauty to arise one of these days. The shed definitely is already beautiful.

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    i love seeing your blank canvas. You have so much to look forward to Frances. What fun…and I know a lot of work but it will be fun too. I am surprised that they could get a dump truck through your garden gate. Lucky you. Your shed is sweet. I can’t wait to see what all happens in this garden. Next spring may I send you a start of a leatherleaf viburnum and maybe a couple other plants ?? I will pot one up right away so it will be ready to travel if you can use it.

    Hi Lisa, thanks so much for the plant offer! I will gladly accept anything from your garden. Good idea to pot it up now to grow on until spring. I actually potted many things up last winter in preparation for the move and they have done well. The dump truck just fit inside the gate with about one inch on each side!

  13. Alison says:

    What a great start! The new shed has so much charm. I was intrigued by that shot of the truck dumping soil onto the bare lawn. It looks like a wonderful blank slate. Is there a greenhouse in the plans you’ve been showing to contractors? You have the room and the sun for it.

    Hi Alison, thanks. Charm, that is the word for the shed. The workmen were instrumental in helping me tweak the design and vision of it to fit the budget and my needs. The little roof lines and covered porches and posts are wonderful additions. The door was just the thing and I really did cry, after screaming for joy when they showed it to me. The shed is the greenhouse. It may get electricity for heat later on, that was allowed for in the design. An extension cord can fit under the door now in case it gets too cold. I have added bubble wrap to the windows to help insulate it. Still a work in progress, for sure.

  14. vbdb says:

    What a delight to see the creative process from the beginning! So very much looking forward to future installments and hearing your voice again in the blogosphere.

    What a sweet thing to say, thank you. Yes, this garden creation will be recorded from the beginning, with pictures taken all along the way. While I do keep a hand written on paper journal, these blog posts will help me remember what happened and when, too.

  15. Rhea says:

    Loving seeing the timeline. Thank you!

    Thanks, Rhea, for reading. Before and afters will be a feature here as different projects are completed. I hope to post regular garden-y things, too.

  16. commonweeder says:

    So good to see you again – and a new project. I am hoping to be in a similar position next spring. I have already divided up perennials and put them in a holding bed – but no idea where they will end up. Wish me luck.

    The very best of luck to you, Pat! Moving is not for the timid, and moving a garden is even more trail blazing. You are doing the right thing by digging the plants now. I thought I was ahead of the game with plants potted up ahead of time, but panic set in at the end and stuff was dug and thrown into big garbage bags. The dump truck of planting mix worked out well. If that is possible for you, do give it a go.

  17. Valerie says:

    You have created a new beginning in your new place. Can’t wait to see what is in store for the future. Valerie

    Thanks, Valerie. The future holds many projects, in my mind, anyway. It will take years for them to come to fruition, but that is the way gardening goes. Patience and flexibility in the plans are needed.

  18. grammapenny says:

    Frances.. you made my day.. such joy to see Fairegarden pop up in my inbox. I love the shed and look forward to following the progress of the garden.

    Hi Penny, thank you for those sweet words. The shed being finished was a big milestone and deserved a post. There are more projects scheduled and I will need to remember to take photos for before and after so posts can be written about them. It seems slow going, though.

  19. I love seeing the pictures of the work in progress. The first year in our new house, I wondered if it would ever feel like home. Now that three years have gone by, I can say it does indeed feel like home.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for reading. I remember well your move and am so glad to hear that the new place finally feels like home. Your garden has made great strides, too. Onward for us both!

  20. Les says:

    So glad you are sharing again!

    Thanks, Les. I am glad to have something to share again.

  21. Lola says:

    So glad to see you back. I have missed you.

    Thanks, Lola. I have missed you all.

  22. It’s like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. The first butterfly of many…

    An apt metaphor, Kris, thanks for the encouraging words. This butterfly will profit from the many mistakes of the trial and error method of gardening used for the last 50 years. Wow, that is a long time!

  23. meander1 says:

    You were so wise to make the charming shed your first formal outdoor project since it says so clearly that a gardener does, indeed, live here. You now have something that fills your gaze as an undeniable first step in the promise of all the things to come that will surround you with beauty. Do you plan to devote an area to a swath of muhly grass…I do so associate it with you…especially this time of year. Good luck with the journey and know that your readership is delighted whenever Fairegarden shows up in the inbox.

    Hi Michaele, you are too sweet with your kind comments, thank you. The shed got the go ahead so soon because we couldn’t get both cars into the much smaller garage than we had at the old house. HA With some reorganization both cars are now under cover as winter comes so my husband is happy. I am very happy to see the shed whenever I look out the window, too. There is a small patch of three muhly plants at the corner of the shed, behind the wrought iron chairs. The morning sun backlights that spot. Onward!

  24. Oh how exciting to have an almost clean slate. With your talents and magic, it will soon be an amazing new fairegarden. I ditto what Kris said–like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. 🙂

    Hi Beth, thank you for your vote of confidence that this garden can be made into something wonderful. I will certainly try. Love the butterfly idea, too.

  25. Norine says:

    I am glad your are “back.” I thought you had given up blogging and I was sad missing your pictures and thoughts. Best wishes on your new creation – I am already holding my breath to see the art emerge!

    Hi Norine, thanks so much. I wasn’t sure blogging would ever be done again, but the first post felt so good that there will be more, if sporadic as everything seems to take so long to accomplish. I hope you exhale soon!

  26. jean says:

    So good to read about your gardening and making another place ” A Secret Garden” that can be enjoyed by all of us near and far. Thanks for sharing.

    Hi Jean, thanks for reading. There will be secret spots of garden here due to the layout of the lot. It is exciting to imagine how it could be. I will work towards that goal, but it will happen in fits and starts.

  27. I love your shed. I want one. Need mums?

    Hi Christopher, thanks. I hope you get to see the shed and yard in person some day soon, I need your advice! And I also need mums and anything else you want to share. Seeds are welcome, too. xo

  28. I’m buying into the dump truck idea. My farm is on the market and I’m hoping to be moving out by late summer. I have a place in mind but until I have sold I can’t make an offer. That place too has nothing but two patches of lawn, one small one large. In theory I will not garden seriously again, but in practice I’m taking cuttings and potting up plants at a rate… Fact is, my back has packed up and even light gardening will need raised beds. Time will tell. Meanwhile I’m not certain if I should see you as a good or a bad influence, Frances! 😊

    Hi Jack, how exciting for you and may your farm sell quickly so you can move forward. We were lucky with the sale of our house, it happened almost too fast. Of course you are potting up plants to take, you are a gardener! I know about the back problems and other physical limitations curtailing our gardening methods, but you will find a way to play in the dirt no matter what. I have been called both a good and bad influence and consider that a compliment! Best of luck to you.

  29. Lucy Corrander says:

    Gosh, you’ve really launched in with gusto and spirit. I imagine that although it must be very hard to leave your old garden and house after all the work you put into them and all the time you lived there . . . it must also be exciting to have a new project on what looks like a virtually blank page

    Hi Lucy, thanks for stopping by. I try not to think about the old house and garden, especially while this place is so topsy turvy. It seems that there is a whole lot of waiting going on and not much else. At least not at the pace that I would like. It is good to have the shed done before winter. I am itching to get new garden beds laid out next.

  30. Rose says:

    Oh my, Frances, I realized throughout this post that you went a whole season without having a large garden to enjoy–this indeed must have been very difficult for you. But I’m sure that won’t be the case next year. The shed looks great and has so much character; it looks right at home here. Now you can begin the fun part of planning and planting. Looking forward to seeing your new garden as it progresses!

    Hi Rose, thanks for being such an astute reader, reading between the lines. It had been a year of gardening doldrums for me, thinking about leaving the bounteous creation that I had poured my energy into for 14 years. I tried to be excited about starting over, but I am not as young as I was when the last garden was begun. Energy levels have waned, but I am not only older but wiser now. Care will be taken in plant choices and hardscape to help make gardening easier in the future. Having level ground was the first requirement in buying a new house. Onward.

  31. Terry says:

    Glad you are back! I’m looking forward to your progress too!

    Thanks, Terry. I appreciate your following along as the new garden progresses.

  32. My Kids Mom says:

    How fabulous! And starting from scratch is kinda fun. I still feel like I container garden in my hard clay soil, as compost fills each hole I dig/scrape/pick and sweat to create. I wish I could just have it all dug up, have a truck dump some lovely black dirt in the yard and put it all back. Or, just put back the plants that have earned their keep, and to put them in the locations I really want them.

    Hi Jill, thanks so much. Be careful what you wish for! HA It’s not too late to move stuff around there and you are making the soil wonderful with that compost. Keep on doing what you are doing. The truck load of planting mix was great stuff and it allowed for easy planting of all the Noah’s Ark of my favorites. It is completely full now, not an inch left to stick something in, so there will be more truckloads coming in a little while.

  33. Billie Dooley says:

    Welcome back!


  34. Dee says:

    Such fun to see you making this new garden. I love your little shed.~~Dee

    Thanks, Dee. I can’t wait to actually do some hard core planting, soon I hope. The shed makes me very happy just to see it out there.

  35. Ahhhhh, a new garden with its evolution. Terrific.

    Thanks, Layanee. This time the garden making will be duly recorded. It is fun to go back and look at the beginnings and see how much things have grown.

  36. It’s good to see you again Frances! How exciting, and terrifying, to start a new garden. I know the feeling. It will be all worth it in the end, I promise.

    Hi Robin, thanks so much for those encouraging words. Some days I am excited, some days not really terrified but just tired. As these hardscape projects get completed, it seems a little more like a real garden, anyway. Tomorrow the fence gets replaced! Yippeee!

  37. Carole says:

    A new garden! Sounds an enormous challenge to be starting from scratch but very exciting too. My last new garden I started in 1996, it is now a jungle needing a lot of work. Enjoy as I will be following you, thank you.

    Thanks for reading, Carole. There is nothing that improves a tended garden like age. Yours sounds wonderful. I look forward to having my own jungle here.

  38. I knew you would be busy, busy, busy! And it will be fun to see what happens as time passes!!!

    Hi Shady, thanks for visiting. It is busy busy busy in between times of wait wait wait for contractors! HA

  39. Hello my dear Frances 🙂 I just have learned you moved the house and the garden! So late. As an excuse I can only have my lots of travelling this year. I have spend majority of this year in Portugal.
    What a surprise. I must say I’m gonna miss your slope garden, which I have admired so much.
    On the other hand it will be a great new adventure for you to create a garden and also for us to witness everything from the beginning. I am sure your expertise, experience and talent will make hell of garden! Looking forward to see it! Hugs, Ewa

    Sweet Ewa, how nice to see you here! What fun you have had on your travels, I saw pictures of you on facebook, beautiful as always. The slope will be missed, looking at it but not working on it. I was sidelined for many months after suffering injuries to my legs, ankles and feet due to working on that slope. This new garden is mostly level, but so much smaller, and more boring! I will work to make it more interesting. xoxoxo

  40. woodlousehouse says:

    Lovely! How exciting! I look forward to following your progress.

    Hi Patricia, thanks for following along this new path.

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