Monday, January 31, 2011

Springtime Dreams

One of the primary things you should know about me is that I like old things of all sorts. Antiques, vintage clothes, old music, period movies, old books, classic recipes, old growth, and, of course, old homes and buildings. My family and friends either kindly call me an old soul or jokingly say I was born an old lady. I take both as a compliment!

So I consider myself incredibly lucky to have acquired my dream home. It's 1900 farmhouse-style Victorian, and I adore it. Here's the front (taken when my husband and I purchased it):

It was love at first sight, I must admit. I had, and still have, lots of big dreams for this home, and that's a big part of what this blog is all about. As you can see, it's charming and ready for some great projects. And believe me, as anyone who has ever lived in an old house knows, there are ALWAYS projects that you need or want to do!

Now that we've lived in the house a while and have had a chance to feel each other out--I always think it's important to spend time getting to know your living space intimately, the same way you would with any significant other--it's finally time to move forward with some of these things. This time of year, I always start dreaming of gardening projects. I think it's the crispness of winter after the holidays are over. The decorations are gone, the house feels large and clear, and the chill air sharpens the senses (and keeps us indoors more than we would like!) while simultaneously making us yearn for for the charms of spring.

I am a lover of nature's wild and rambling qualities. I swoon at the sight of a bower of fragrant climbing roses and am awed watching the light filter through a forest canopy. Moss underfoot is my favorite carpeting, and the smell of herbs and dirt in sunlight is intoxicating. From swaths of colorful flowers to free-form hedges and stately trees, I love it all.

It's easy to get swept up in garden catalogues and trips to the greenhouse, and it's hard for me not to bite off more than I can chew! However, I'm trying to set some modest goals for this year, and here's my inspiration:

1. Climbing Roses - Really, I want loads of roses all over this house. They seem to be part of the fabric of the place. When we toured it, we kept catching whiffs of rose perfume, and it turned out that the original owner of the house (who had passed on decades before) had an obsession with roses and rose perfume. Her name was Alice, and it seems only right to honor her memory with them. There is a lovely wild rambler in the back, and I hope to train a fragrant climber up the front two columns of the house and across the front of the porch in between.

2. Blackberry Whips - There is nothing that says summer more than wild blackberries. When I was a kid growing up in the military, my parents would take us on blazing July days to the outskirts of the wooded training areas, where masses of chaotic blackberry brambles loaded with juicy, sugar-sweet berries grew. We would fill buckets, baskets and even stray ziplock bags with the fruit, staining our fingers and lips with the juice. I want to relive those magical trips that, in my memory, are the essence of childhood summers - and make some blackberry pies to boot!

3. Herbs - Herbs are essential to life, in many ways. Mine is a house that is full of cooking and baking - I come from a long line of excellent cooks and bakers on both sides of my family, and my husband, Q, is a chef. Beyond that, the healing and spiritual power of herbs is an ancient tradition, and growing one's own is a wonderful way to connect more closely to the earth. I hope one day to have a sprawling herb garden full of a wide variety of useful plants, but what I cannot live without is lavender, rosemary, thyme, basil and mint, so they will be the first to go in. I love the way this one has been put together:

We were very lucky to move onto a property with many beautiful plants already established. The backyard has the most beautiful irises I have ever seen, and a large magnolia--one of the most beautiful and fragrant flowering trees in the world!--shades the front porch. In late May, it's like a living representation of the moon on every branch. We also have a gorgeous mature maple on the side of the house that graces us with deep shade in summer as well as stunning fall foliage; a watermelon-colored and very elegant crepe myrtle; a vigorous pin oak; some huge black walnuts; and loads of periwinkle, lambs ear, and tiger lilies. The idea of adding to and enhancing all of these wondrous natural gifts is a thrilling prospect!

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