Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pergola Garden Revival

Since we bought this property two years ago, I have wanted to give it a name. This all started with a trip to the Cotswolds in 2013. So many properties we visited or walked past had lovely wooden signs announcing their identity, and they had nothing having to do with the owners' names. They were descriptors of the places, and I thought they gave them additional character. 

Here's an example

For a while, I was lobbying for Dixter Grange because Great Dixter is my favorite garden, and the word grange seemed to describe our property quite well (a country house with farm buildings attached). We have buildings and structures aplenty around here. While I have always loved the barn, the rest of the structures have been a little less pleasing. They have potential, but they look so tired, largely from their grey wash stain. The pergola is one such structure that has bothered me a bit.

Here's the sad pergola sitting in an overgrown mess

Once we had cleared the lower tier of the garden next to the pergola last year, I started planting the area and creating a relaxing shade garden. Its tidied appearance drew me out on a few days this spring. I stretched out on the small bench to grade portfolios and enjoy the beautiful weather. That made me wish I had an even better, more comfortable space, so I set about creating one. That, my friends, proved to be a very slippery slope. 

It began with changing the color of the pergola stain. That made the pergola look better but the slab beneath all the more tired. So I stained the slab. Then the abandoned lanterns bothered me, so I scrubbed them clean, painted them copper, and moved them to the inside of the posts, along with two of my own lanterns that I cleaned and painted to match. Then I deemed the bench too small. So I built an enormous bench, 6.5 feet long by 2.5 feet wide. I modified a design by Ana White so that I could have more of a daybed, and I used 2x6s for the main frame so that I could put a lid on the seat and make a storage area for the cushions. It cost $170, which is $20 over my budget, but after much building, staining, and sewing, I really am pleased with the transformation. It's now a comfortable, inviting place to find some shade during the day.

It barely resembles its former self

The fountain makes this a really relaxing space
And at night, it has a whole other atmosphere. I wrapped the sphere in the center with solar lights. Although I would prefer a warmer color to the lights, I do like what they add to the space. 

There's a little someone who clearly approves the changes,
probably because the cushions are so comfortable

Now all we have to do is clear the upper tier of the garden, which will take some doing since there's poison ivy running throughout, and we're both terribly allergic. It's a job that needs to be done this summer, though.

And we still need to come up with a good name for the property.


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