If the yard of house is a jewel to behold, then our yard when we bought it was a diamond so in the rough that only Andrew could see any potential in it. Even our realtor, who sold us on the house’s potential and all it could be, admitted that this yard would be a challenge. Cherry trees and rhododendrons left unattended for years had grown wild and uncontrolled, so that walking on the sidewalk was an impossibility. The front window was cloudy with water damage, and the thick, unwelcoming curtains and puke beige door gave the whole place a gloomy air. But Andrew won me over with visions of window boxes and trailing petunias, so I bought into that magic word potential and found myself with a front yard that resembled the beast’s castle.
We got to work on it, room by room, slowly peeling the house back and putting it together again. It took about a year for the inside to finally resemble what we had hoped it would become–a happy little home instead of a gloomy compound. The past few months, we’ve been turning our attention to the outside–starting with the front yard.
First, we took out those rhododendrons. Their roots were thick. We broke a window in the process— unfortunately, it wasn’t the cloudy one we wanted to break.
A few weeks ago, we finally had our cloudy window replaced. And we could SEE! It made such a huge difference, inside and outside.
Andrew said that the door to a writer’s house should be magical– so one day while I was at work, he gave it a fresh coat of Fairy Tale Blue. We spent the winter building window boxes and shutters, and Andrew justified buying every power tool in the book to put them up.
The very best part of this whole project was the flower shopping. My mom and I got to go together. As one of four children, living five hours from home, and now with a daughter of my own, it is very rare that I get an entire morning just with my mom. We had a ball, picking out geraniums, petunias, and grasses. Looking at our flowers now, I am reminded of that morning, which makes them even sweeter.I’m excited to watch them trail over the boxes as the summer continues.
We finally had the flowers and window done just in time for Memorial day. We searched the old owner’s shed for a flag we could put out front and found about ten. That’s when I remembered that this house was built right after the second World War. It’s owner likely fought in it or had friends who did–the flag must have had a very different meaning to him. We felt proud to put them outside our house.
The project isn’t complete—what project ever is? We’d like to add adirondack chairs, brick pavers, more flowers—but it definitely feels happier and more inviting than when we moved in. I feel less like I live in the forbidden forest and more like I live in the cottage of my dreams. Turns out Andrew was right– a little vision and a lot of tools can really go a long way.
We have so enjoyed quiet, sunny evenings outside our home the past few weeks—and it’s led to more conversations and meeting our neighbors. Maybe that’s because of June—she is the most popular person on our block—but I like to think that flowers are like little spots of sunshine. You can’t look at them and not smile.
I can’t think of a better way than that to give back to this walkable, beautiful neighborhood that has brought us so much joy.