* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Christmas gift to myself

Garden Christmas 01I was unexpectedly able to both start and complete a little outside project that I've been wanting to do for months, just in time for Christmas.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out I thought I'd show you, too.

With a little help from my friend partner, I was able to transform a dead corner of our driveway into a bit of a showplace, despite its continuing rusticity.

Last fall, when I was working on the massive hillside, I was hoping to include this area below while I was at it.  But the hillside took so long, then we immediately got 20 inches of rain during November, which is equivalent to five months worth of average rainfall for this month, and then I thought we were too much into winter weather.  But we've had such wonderful temperatures, I decided I could tackle this after all.

Garden Christmas 02
Waiting for a facelift

This corner is at the bottom of our property, at the first turn necessary to come up our driveway.  When we first moved here, it was so boring, and the wind blew tons of oak leaves and anything else into it. 

So I took some of our famous bergenias and learned I could just chop them off their stems, plunk them into the ground, and they'd be happy.

Garden Christmas 03
So inelegantly ripped out

While the corner is so tall and the plants are so short, at least they've supplied a bit of color; but now they've really started outgrowing their space after all these years. 

So with a new plan in mind, the other day I dug up the whole area.  Not only were there long stems and roots from the plants, but much of the dirt that erodes down the driveway ends up here. 

Thus, all of it got moved out of the way.

Garden Christmas 04
New star of the show ...
Garden Christmas 05
... but getting some friends

I had a little baby plant I got several years ago, thinking it was just a miniature, but it was just simply a baby.  And it was definitely outgrowing its space.  So I dug it up and put it in a pot so it could make nice undisturbed roots.  I thought it would be just right in this corner. 

I needed to build up the corner, so I ended up using some large rubble pieces, knowing I wasn't planning on it being visible later.

Garden Christmas 06
Finally, a little height
Then I discovered a yucca that was in a temporary spot (story of my life here) waiting for the right place to be developed, had gotten too big for the intended area.  So the Doc cut off two unneeded arms for me (of the plant, not his own), and I planted them there, too, hoping they would help add some much needed height.  Making plant holes is a bit tricky, as this is all on a bed of rock, but I feel confident the yuccas will find enough room for their roots.

I ran out of daylight before I could finish the area; but even without replanting the bergenias, I was feeling quite pleased with how it was turning out.  (I'd had a hard time envisioning the end result because I didn't know just how everything would fit.)  I ended up carting a ton of buckets of all the leftover dirt back up the hill it had all washed down from, after raking all the rocks out of it, then I used the little rocks to help hold in the larger rocks I'd used for a border, not being able to particularly bury them.

And now, here is my gift to myself, in time for Christmas Day, of my new little corner!  Isn't this a lovely change from the original setting?  (Which already was better than the nothing we'd started with.)

Garden Christmas 07
What a lovely little Christmas present -- some beauty for the future

The bergenias usually flower in late winter, but they've already started, and they seem to bloom just fine in this dark mostly sunless corner.  By next summer, their big leaves will probably have grown back enough to really fill in the area.  And the root ball on the the little tree looks quite healthy, so I think it will also take off quickly and really fill in the corner before very long.  We got this statue years ago, around the time the Doc's dad passed away, so we call this a memorial to his parents.  It was located somewhere else but tended to be lost there, so we are quite happy to make it much more visible now.

Garden Christmas 08
Comin' down the road
Garden Christmas 09
Welcome to chez nous entry point

For perspective, here is the view coming down the driveway on the way to making a sharp corner to go straight back out the front gate. 

Here's the opposite view coming in from the gate before turning the sharp corner to drive up to the house.

Garden Christmas 10
Joyeux Noël
Garden Christmas 11
Bonne Année

Finally, I will leave you with the bow and holiday wishes balls that I got for our front door in Paris our first year in France.  I don't have a double door entrance down here, so they have been relocated to our front double gate, creating a warm welcome as soon as one enters our property. 

We hope you are having the festive holiday these greeting wish for you.


  1. It looks terrific. But what a lot of hard and physical work! I really like your various statues.

  2. Let me know if you ever run out of yard to dig up and make look nice. I have quite a bit of it here, just waiting for your professional touch...

  3. My gosh but you do a lot of hard physical labor! I don't see how you do it! This corner is just charming now. Good for you.. the Christmas things are so nice, too!


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