Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Eureka, maybe!

house with laurel
It seems as if every post lately has been about something in my garden that I can't stand...you'd think my garden brought me nothing but misery! Truthfully, I love my garden, especially as we head into late summer and fall. The borders are full and surging with growth. However, there ARE things that annoy me...and today's post is about one of my biggest annoyances.

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Yes, THE LAUREL! The shrub that I've hated since we moved in and has only grated on my nerves since. It's too big for the space, it's boring and it blocks light from a huge portion of the front garden. Not only that, I have to push past it to get to the water faucet, and I always get scratched...it hates me too! Vendetta!

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I don't think anyone will be sad to see it go, there are plenty of other amorphous, dreary, evergreen shrubs in Portland...this one will not be missed. The big question has been, what to replace it with? For the past few years, I've auditioned every shrub possibility I can think of. There is always something that keeps me from declaring a winner. Should it be evergreen (Norm said "yes"). What should the max size be? I wanted something that didn't get too wide or too tall...but that had decent form. Every time I thought I had found something, I'd realize that it actually would get too big, would prefer more or less light, or was just plain dull.

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Then, this past weekend, as Norm and I were out walking with the cats around the house, it struck me. What if I had been thinking about this all wrong. My prejudice favoring plants had blinded me to another, perhaps much better, alternative. A seating area! As we walked around, I noticed that every house in our block had chairs on their front porches...and while I've lamented all summer that I wished our front porch was big enough to accommodate a seating area, I hadn't realized there was one right in front of me!

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What do you think, am I crazy?!? The space is surprisingly generous (I'm guessing 10'x10'), especially considering the size of our lot in general. There is definitely room for a few chairs (perhaps the Adirondack chairs I've always wanted)! I think we can remove the Laurel, gravel over the area, perhaps put some alternating panels of cattle-panel trellis against the wall for something to grow up (maybe fragrant Jasmine). Add a few pots and Voila! I'm kind of in love with the idea of sitting back there, behind the tall plants, enjoying the garden, while still feeling a little bit secluded.

What do you think...is it stupid/insane/ridiculous??? What have I overlooked or not thought of?

61 comments:

  1. No. Not at all. But I'd dispatch it first - get a couple of chairs and see how you feel sitting there. Once you're good with how it feels, make sure whatever you do adds to the overall look of your pretty house. Think hardscape first. Could you do some sort of trellising that would look good when you're inside looking out? Would you change your railing so that you could scoot down to the 'garden' level from the veranda? Looking forward to seeing how it all goes together.
    b.t.w. the gardens are looking gorgeous.
    Barbarapc

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    1. That's a good idea, Barbara...and I think we'll totally do that! We're definitely planning on some sort of trellis or arbor to add some verticality...I like the idea of removing the railing and adding steps down to the area...not sure if that's in the cards, though :-D

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  2. Take it out and never regret it. Laurels like this will only get bigger and you will fight it endlessly. I used to have one and feel relieved that it is gone. Replaced by sunshine and better behaved plants.

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    1. Agreed...it really isn't going to magically get better!

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  3. I agree with Barbarapc. Take it down and then make the final decision. The seating area may be wonderful, or it may look oddly empty.

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    1. Agreed...we're going to do it in stages...and see how we feel about it once the Laurel is gone...it's so hard to tell!

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  4. Great idea! I'm in the process of creating a seating area in the front of my porchless house (a currently stalled process, but still...). The plantings out front will create a visual screen from the street, but still allow view from the seating area (at least for now). I think you will really like a seating area out there, and you'll no doubt feel blissfully surrounded by all the lush bounty growing around you when you use it. I have a feeling it will become a favorite spot if you do it. Go for it!

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    1. Glad you approve of the plan! I agree, I think we'll be hidden enough by the plants that we won't feel "on display" :-)

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  5. An amazing idea! As Nike says, Just do it. Cut that laurel down before you give it another thought. Then you'll have time to drag chairs out there to see what it would feel/look like before you proceed.

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    1. Exactly, Peter! We're still a little unsure about what exactly we're going to do to the space to integrate it with the rest of the garden...but getting the Laurel out of there puts us on the path ;-)

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  6. I love this idea! You and Norm can sit with a bubbly water at night and throw things at the chickens while Boots snuggles on your lap. And you can work in more pots!

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    1. I think Norm saw my eyes light up at the thought of more pots!

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  7. Nuts, crazy and every other mad related word I can think of lol. But that's only because I can't think of anything more terrifying than to sit out the front of my house where people may stop and chat to me!
    However, if you are short of seating area then it's a superb solution, personally I think it's a good idea to get rid of the Laurel and then take a while to really think through what would look good there - the Laurel is coming out regardless so it's no gamble. I think trellis would look good on the wall to add some interest and height to what would otherwise look bare or maybe one of those seats with an arbour over so that you can grow something over the seating area instead of the walls?
    Definitely scented if you're going to sit there - Jasmine, honeysuckle?
    Can't wait to see what you decide.

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    1. Hahahaha...I totally understand, Linda...it seems a little odd to have a seating area in the front yard...but I think we'll use it (we'll see). I totally agree, I'm sort of brainstorming different ideas for a trellis or arbor for that area...and yes, definitely some scented vine..and hopefully a few Liles too :-)

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  8. Love the idea! It'll be a fun little garden room. I second what Linda said about the trellis. Keep us posted with your progress!

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    1. I definitely agree, Kathryn...it's exciting to have so many options in front of us!

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  9. Great idea! Nothing better than extending your living space. And can't have too many pots. Agree with Heather - cats and bubbly - wait - bubbly WATER? I can think of something else bubbly. Cheers to you both!

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    1. Hahahahaha...well, water for the most part...and maybe a hard cider after a hard day ;-)

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  10. I have two Adirondack chairs in my backyard and have morning coffee while contemplating the garden. I have seen wild life, bees, birds and needed chores while sitting there that I would have never noticed. It's one of my favorite things to do. It's a chance to enjoy the fruits of your labor in the garden. I'd do it!

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    1. So true, Donna, sitting still gives us valuable time to actually soak in the garden and appreciate it's good qualities as well and giving us a better grasp on it's shortcomings!

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  11. The main question is "you you use a sitting area at the front?" some people do others never. But if it looks attractive then it doesn't matter if you use it or not.

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    1. So true, Christina! I think we will use it, since we often just stand around outside on the sidewalk right now...anything is better than that!

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  12. The idea is neither stupid, insane, nor ridiculous, it sounds perfect! You can never have enough seating areas in the garden. And it seems that the laurel was just waiting for you to think about a seating area as a suitable replacement to its existence :)

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    1. I totally agree, guys...I've never been to a garden and thought they had too much seating!

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  13. I think it's a wonderful idea and can't wait to see it completed!

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  14. Hi Scott,

    Sounds great, like you I need more places to just sit. Most times I end up sitting on grass/steps/walls to appreciate things. Or just staring out of the window.

    Would it be going too far to perhaps add a pergola or some sort of structure to provide a little more seclusion without casting too much shade?

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    1. Same here, Gwirrel...I just sit wherever I can (when I get a chance). It'll be nice to have a real seating area! I'm definitely thinking a pergola or trellis are needed for verticality and, hopefully, a bit of shade!

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  15. That sounds like a great idea. Especially with a trellis or pergola with vines growing up it so you won't miss the height and greenness in the area.

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    1. Totally...we definitely need something for some height and greenery once the Laurel is gone!

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  16. Love the idea! I think it will give you a place to enjoy your garden even more!

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    1. Thanks, Karin...I totally agree, of course ;-)

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  17. Take out the Laurel, you obviously hate it, and play around with the space, chuck in a few chairs, have a sit and see if you feel comfortable sitting out the front. I have a seating area on my front porch and I sit there when my neighbours aren't around.

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    1. Agreed, Karen...I think we'll get a few chairs and play around with the space before we get TOO carried away...before anything is set in stone!

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  18. Shall I send Philip over ? he's not digging anything out for me at the moment? If you have hated it all these years, it should go. The sitting idea sounds great. can you extend your porch or is that too big a job?

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    1. Hahahahaha...be careful, I might just take you up on that offer ;-) I think extending the porch would be AMAZING, but I don't think we have the resources for something of that magnitude at this point...but we've definitely talked about it!

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  19. If the budget allowed, it would be great to extend the 'front stoop' to be a full on porch.This would put you slightly above the grade, surveying your kingdom below !

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    1. Definitely...if only money were a little more abundant...I always lament that our porch is too small to sit on!

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  20. Scott: I'm glad to hear that your garden isn't perfect--I seriously though it was! Actually, I like the trellis/pergola suggestion by Kraken. It's interesting how all of us have areas of our gardens that bug us. Good luck!

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    1. Hahahaha...you should feel happy, because it's far from perfect! I agree, I do want some sort of trellis/pergola/arbor for the area...we need to measure it and make sure we don't go too big...or too small!

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  21. Seating areas from which to view your garden are never a bad idea. You'll have plenty of opportunity to trial different arrangements. And, if you later decide you want to reuse the area for plants, you're still ahead of the game as your detested laurel will be out of the way.

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    1. So true, Kris...even if we decide we aren't using the seating area, we can always plant something there in the end :-)

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  22. I love this idea! I briefly flirted with the idea of extending our tiny front porch (barely enough room to stand and knock on the door) over under the living room window when we removed the Rhody, but decided against it because we would have felt on a stage, performing for the passers-by. Your idea has you sort of hidden by the garden and thus not so exposed. Perfect! Plus now you get to shop for chairs, containers and plants...instead of just one shrub!

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    1. That's very true, Loree...and we DO sort of feel that way when we're up on our porch right now...it's SO HIGH up!

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  23. Jasmine? Oh yes! It sounds like a perfect idea!

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  24. I would do it. Sounds wonderful and the space looks great for a seating area. You'll get it in and find you are adding to it also as you do your garden. :)
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. I really hope so, Cher...I'm giddy with the idea of lazy evenings spent lounging among the flowers!

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  25. It sounds like you are on to a good idea. Would a seating area work better on the other side of the porch? It looks like you would have easier access from the house. I would still remove the laurel if you are not happy with it. You will be able to visualize better with it gone. Besides, voids do not last long in your garden.

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    1. It would definitely be easier to get to, Michael...but that's the front entryway...and we can't block it (it's pretty tight already)! Our house is so oddly positioned on our property...it's very odd...and not always convenient!

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  26. Sounds like a great idea! It would give you a perfect place to enjoy your beautiful front garden as well. Sometimes it takes time to come up with the right solution. I've hated some overgrown yews in front of our house ever since we moved here. Last fall I finally was able to get my son to give them an extreme pruning. I'm not sure they're going to survive, but I won't be too sad if we have to yank them all out next spring:)

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    1. Isn't it funny how sometimes the simplest solutions just totally evade us for such a long time! I totally understand how you feel about the Yews...sometimes one plant's death is just an opportunity for something even better ;-)

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  27. I like the idea especially if it gives you space away from the frat house which is your least favorite thing about the back yard. You can try different options for a touch of privacy and it's got to be more relaxing there even if the neighbors can see you.

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    1. Exactly! Of course, we're still too close for comfort...but at least they are just over our shoulders doing body shots ;-)

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  28. I think this idea is brilliant, really inspired. I love when your brain goes on hiatus from a problem, and then after a while it just comes up with a smart solution like this. I also like the idea others have come up with, of putting a trellis there, with jasmine or something else with a wonderful scent. I think if the front of my house wasn't so exposed to the street, I would sit out there more, instead of filling it up with potted plants.

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    1. I totally agree, Alison...I'll probably be asking for input in the future about a trellis/arbor...there are so many options...and I'm very overwhelmed suddenly with all the possibilities!

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  29. Chop it down!! If it's been bugging you that long, it has to go. I love the idea of adding a seating area but have you thought about removing the railing on the side of your porch, adding a set of stairs leading to the new area, putting the railing back up next to the stairs, and then putting in your chairs, gravel, etc? That way the two areas won't feel so separate and it will be easier to access the new spot. It will be like having an upstairs/downstairs porch. Adding the stairs and moving the railing will make your front porch look larger because it won't be boxed it. But definitely get rid of the green blob. :o)

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    1. We've totally thought about removing the porch railing and putting in a set of steps so we can get up to the front door from either direction...if we can figure it out...we're totally going to do it!

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  30. We always loved sitting out on the porch of our friends in NW. It was secluded enough to feel private but still possible to engage with passers-by. Heck, if you find you don't like it you can always plant something there later on.

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    1. Hahaha...so true, Ricki! We figured we'll be hidden enough so as not to seem annoying to passers-by, but we can always pop up and chat if we're so inclined ;-)

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  31. I love the idea and say get rid of what you do not love...put that seating area in and enjoy your garden.

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