A new project commences: The away room

There’s always something under development at the MHM home and garden. Sitting still is not part of my toolkit.

The weather has finally cooperated to the point that we can begin building our addition onto the back of the house. We’ve been close to starting the project for two months now.  I came back from the beach to find that the footings had been dug. Yesterday the materials for the foundation were delivered and today the foundation will be poured.

I love house projects second only to garden projects, but I’ll keep the focus on the garden (probably).

The renovation objectives

We (I) have been planning for this addition for a long time. Our architect developed the plans for this room when we remodeled our very inadequate kitchen three years ago. It’s not going to be an especially large room, but it will give us tremendous flexibility. Either it will serve as an occasional guest room and frequent “away room” (a concept developed, as far as I know, by architect Sarah Susanka, author of the “Not So Big House” series), or else it will be adopted by our oldest child for his room, and his current (very small) bedroom will instead become the guest/away room.  Last September saw the first flight of the Great Azalea Migration, when massive chunks of even more-massive shrubs, displaced from their home near the corner of the house, found refuge along the northern border fence of my garden. This May, the arborist team removed a post oak with an 18- to 20-inch diameter. And now, it is time for the real work to begin.

The renovation’s garden impact

I knew, having mapped out with fallen limbs and landscape timbers and garden hoses, that the footprint of the addition would change dramatically the way we move in and out of the garden, and the way we interact with all the connecting spaces within the garden. But it’s entirely different once big holes are dug and we are forced to begin finding our new pathways.

Finding our new pathways is also going to be slightly complicated for the foreseeable future, as our shed is presently sitting where I imagine the new garden entrance will logically be. (Another project.)

I’ve begun sketching ideas, making lists of plants to move or acquire, and trying to envision how to move through the new space. But most of this will not be able to get well resolved until the structure is finished (at least, externally). Only then will I be able to see whether the light will fall the way I think it will fall, or whether people will be determined to move from one area to another in a given path, regardless of whether that’s where I want the path.

So much to think about! I love a good project.


Hello, gorgeous.

Iris x louisiana ‘Black Gamecock’ has sat about in the garden for at least two years now, doing little but sending up the occasional leaf. But the absurd amounts of rain we’ve had lately have coaxed it to show off:

iris louisiana black gamecock 2

If it’s going to look like this, I am willing to forgive quite a lot of laziness.

That’s my laziness, to be honest. Although catalogues will tell you that Louisiana iris will grow in “ordinary garden soil” (we all know about that), they really want boglike conditions. Wet roadside ditches apparently offer the optimal environment. Typically, my garden’s moisture level is not comparable to a roadside ditch (its appearance is another matter entirely). This spring has provided more rain than sun–I have the mosquitoes to prove it–and now this bloom is giving me the motivation I need to give the plant the conditions it wants. Now that I have a better habitat for the plant, I will move it after it finishes blooming.

To my friends in the US, have a magnificent holiday weekend!