Sycamore Gardens - 10 Years in the Making

The hydrangea garden as it appears today

The other day my husband asked me the question if I had ever thought about selling our house and moving. My answer was a quick "No way"! I have an emotional attachment to my house and gardens because I have spent endless hours remodeling the house, cabin and creating the gardens. It has been a challenge considering what we started with and I could never see myself leaving it.

Several days latter, I was looking through some old pictures of my gardens. I had forgotten just how much work really went into the gardens over the last 10 years. I put together some of the pictures to share with you on how my garden found it's beginnings.

Lots of weeds

Our house was built in 1895 and it was the barn of a much larger farm property. Over the years the property and buildings were divided down and sold off. We purchased the house 10 years ago and then the caretakers cabin several years after that. Most people would have walked away shaking their heads if they had been in our shoes, but we loved the property and could see the possibilities. The yard was knee high in weeds, poison ivy and lots of vines covered every tree on the property. The gardens did not exist at that time.

And more weeds!

The yard looked like a jungle with trees growing within inches of the foundation of the house.

Clean up begins

The first big task was cleaning up the landscape and painting the outside of the house. My husband tackled the house painting and I took on the jungle. It took weeks to clean up leaves and weeds, cut down dead limbs and pull the vines off the trees. I had more cases of poison ivy on my arms and hands than I care to remember. I started a small garden close to the house that first year for the plants that I had moved from our previous home.

By year two, I had started enlarging the garden. I dug a pond and added a greenhouse. I did not add gardens down towards the river due to yearly flooding. I had seen several floods by this time and I just did not want to see my gardens destroyed. To give you some idea where the gardens are today if you see the line of white rocks in the above picture, that area is now the woodland garden. Behind the pine tree, you see a fire pit that is now the hydrangea garden that was in the first picture at the top of the page.

As time goes by the woodland garden was enlarged and more flower beds were added in the yard. We added a gravel path that takes you from the house to the woodland garden and down to the river. My husband and I moved lots of gravel that year! We have also purchased the cabin and I cleaned up that section of landscape.

I added two arbors to both ends of the woodland garden and added landscape beams to keep the gravel contained.

The woodland garden is now full of hostas, ferns, hydrangeas, wild flowers and other plants.

I recycled old bricks for steps that I found buried on the property or that had been dumped in the river.

My garden near the house and greenhouse had grown in so much that you can hardly see the pond anymore. Over the years, I decided to add gardens down by the river. Next to our property is a woods that stays flooded for six weeks after a flood. After watching flowers grow and bloom in those conditions, I got brave and started adding gardens near the river. Due to this area becoming more shaded every year, I dug up and moved this entire garden in the picture, down to new flowers beds near the river.

Gardening near the river

I recycled the old fence, bricks and planted an herb garden inside the fence. The outer circle area is the white garden that was planted with apple trees, roses, boxwoods and white climbing roses.

Two years ago, I decided that I was not using the herbs and since I had planted a few roses into this garden, I decided to turn the herb garden into a rose garden. This year I am adding more roses. I did notice that when the herbs left, that my population of butterflies went down. I plan to add some herbs this year back into other surrounding gardens for the butterflies.

This is the gardens as they are today. I have over forty hydrangeas, over 600 hostas, roses, tropicals and a little bit of anything and everything. I have been told that I have more plant selections than a nursery. I like diversity in my garden.

When I dug up the perennial bed near the house, this is where I moved all the plants. This is the smaller of the two gardens that I added two years ago. It is growing in very well.

I built the gazebo two years ago. I just added an arbor, fountain and another garden around the front side of the gazebo this past fall.

This is the garden with the pond and greenhouse as it is today. I replanted the garden with hostas, a weeping cherry, several Japanese maples and assorted shrubs. The garden is more of a shade garden now. This past year a major tree over this garden was hit by lighting and died. The garden may be changing again due to more sun. I will see what happens! I also enlarged the fish pond, added a stream bed and a bridge. We also fenced in this section of the gardens. The dogs enjoys being in the gardens!

Rose garden flooded

I mentioned flooding earlier in this post. Yes, it happens every year, late in the winter or early spring.

Gazebo and gardens standing in or under the flood waters

Flood waters heading into the woodland garden

Each year we flood and I have yet to have one plant die. I have learned that when you live in a flood area that anything that can float needs to be tied down in the garden. You also do not use hardwood mulch because it winds up in the river. I use homemade compost in the gardens. The gardens have never had pesticides used in them. I also do not use herbicides or sprays in the gardens for disease. I have a very diversified garden and one that is chemical free. I have lots of wildlife that live and visits the gardens because of these practices. My hostas are protected from slugs by the toad patrol that breed in the ponds every year. The garden is nearly 1 1/4 acres in size. I maintain my garden with the help of me, myself and I. Sometimes it is a lot to maintain, but I have made it a very low maintenance garden and I love working in it.

Could I ever leave this garden - NEVER! This is my little piece of heaven nestled amongst a grove of sycamore trees. By the way, if I didn't mention it, my gardens are named "Sycamore Gardens".

Hope you enjoyed the tour and happy gardening!

The Creative Gardener


Mario said…
What a transformation! This gives me hope that one day our place will eventually fill in and be beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Anonymous said…
Good grief! I am in awe over all the work you have put into your garden and boy has it paid off! What an amazing accomplishment. It looks fantastic!
What an amazing job you did transforming your property into a little bit of heaven! I am a fist time visitor to your blog and am looking forward to following you. We are only in year 5 in our garden but we are making lots of progress. Wonderful that you took before pictures. That is the part I always forget to do.