Day 211: Complete the Pathway on the South Side

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I’m very thrilled with the completion of the garden pathway, on the south side of the backyard. This was a two day project, with the majority of the work taking place yesterday. It was an ideal day to work in the yard….cool, overcast, breezy. I’m very grateful to have accomplished so much yesterday since today my area has been blessed with a steady downpour. In spite of the rain, I added the finishing touches and called it for my first!

The southern flower border was completed last week, and I love the look of it! The pathway, and plantings, ended at the edge of the border and there was an unfinished gap between the Peace Gate and the border. It was time to bridge the gap. With Greg’s help, the remainder of that section was cleared of grass, the pathway dug to a depth of three inches, and the ground on either side prepared.

My first job was to plant ground cover in that narrow space between the pathway and the fence. That task didn’t take long. Next, I gathered an assortment of containers. I had envisioned the area between the pathway and the house as a space for potted plants and flowers. There is a length of concrete there that could not be removed, which left a narrow strip of ground to plant in. I chose to cover the whole area with cedar mulch and place the containers there, to brighten that area.

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I purchased a variety of succulents and flowering plants, all half price as we are nearing the end of the season. It was fun to pot these plants, using so many different types of containers. I had originally thought I would buy more buckets and metal containers, but I had so many other types of flower pots that I decided to make use of those. These flower pots have found their way to me via yard sales, store sales, and my favorite means….my mom, who picked up several for me at the Recycling Center. I focused on warm colors for the flowering plants, in shades of yellow, red, and pink, and added white begonias for contrast.

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The focal point of the container section is a vintage pot that has been in my family for as long as I can remember. My mom always kept a mother-in-law’s tongue plant in the green and white patterned pot. I have fond memories of that flower pot. Each time we moved, it moved with us. At some point, when I reached adulthood, my mom passed the container on to me. I’ve used it over the years, planting a variety of flowers in it each summer. As I planned the container garden, I knew this old favorite, full of portulaca, or moss roses, would become the centerpiece. I get my resourcefulness, and much of my creativity, from my mom. It seems a fitting tribute, in my garden.

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Lastly, dark brown mulch was brought in, thanks to my friend Tim. He and Greg helped me to fill the new pathway and top off the existing paths with the rich brown mulch. I like the contrast between the two colors of mulch. Outside the sliding door, which I’ve christened the Peace Gate, we set two large rocks. When the rain has moved on, tomorrow or Friday, I will place a few more rocks there and perhaps hang baskets of flowers on either side of the door.

I love the way the pathway leads the visitor past the entry and into the yard. The gentle curve of the path defines the flower border and leads the wanderer to the meditation area. As the flowers mature and fill in, the path will not be visible in its entirety. I hope it beckons and invites exploration.

I stood in the rain, before the closed Peace Gate. I rang the bird bell beside the gate, even though no one was on the other side to let me in. I rang it because I like the sound of the bell and how it announces a visitor. As I slid the door open, an image from The Wizard of Oz flashed into my mind, the scene where Dorothy opens the door of the fallen house and suddenly, the world is radiant in brilliant colors. On this gray day, I too slid open a door, and was greeted with an explosion of happy colors. There wasn’t a yellow brick road to lead me into the garden, but there was a path of dark brown mulch that invited me to enter. Enter I did, and walked slowly down the path, to the meditation area. Turning, I could look down the length of the flower border, to the container garden, to the Peace Gate. I know my smile reached my heart. Bliss.

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Day 183: Peace Garden Gate

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I have been very excited about this project. Before the backyard began being transformed into a garden sanctuary, a cedar privacy fence was built across the back and along one side of the yard. Greg did an excellent job of building this fence. It is a wonderful backdrop to the garden and offers, well, privacy. There is a functional gate at the back for access to the alley. At the front, I wanted something different as an entrance into the garden. My first for today was to see the completion of the garden gate.

Greg designed the entrance, using a great deal of consideration, care and creativity. Using 6×6 posts and cedar, he framed in the supporting structure and used the same tinted toner that he used on the fence. It goes beautifully with the fence. And this is a solid, heavy piece, held securely in place by 720 pounds of cement, below ground. Instead of building a matching gate, the entrance into the backyard is an old wooden door, salvaged from a house that was heavily damaged in the tornado. Greg saw the door being hauled out of the house and asked for it. Ask and you will receive! I love that instead of being thrown away the door now has a special place of importance in my garden.

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I helped a little with the support structure, mostly by holding a piece of wood or handing Greg tools. And on the day he was ready to raise the structure and secure it, I did call my nephew Scott to come help! My main contribution to the project was to work on the old door. It survived the storm well, with no damage to the door itself or to the nine panes of thick opaque glass. There was, however, old varnish on the door and a coat of chipped paint. I considered leaving it as it was, since I like chippy paint! Since the door will be outside and exposed to weather, it made sense to strip it and protect it with primer and a couple of coats of exterior paint. And that became my job, to help strip the door and paint it. I chose a teal color that leaned more toward jade green. It’s called La Fonda Artisan Green.

My favorite part about this gate is that the door doesn’t swing open on hinges. Greg designed it to slide open. He installed two small castors on the base and built the enclosure in such a way that the door opens by sliding, or rolling, behind a panel that is part lattice and part solid cedar. It is such a beautiful piece and very welcoming as an entrance. Friends and family who have seen the project in process have said they have not seen another gate like it. A friend gave me the bird bell that hangs near the door. I like the idea of guests ringing the bell for entrance into the garden!

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As Greg turns his attention to the final section that will enclose the yard on the north side, I have one more piece to add to the new garden gate. I will affix a sign, or lettering, that states:

Peace to all who enter here

And I truly desire that, for all who pass through the gate. I think of this entrance as the Peace Gate. May it be so.

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