browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

How Gardens are REALLY made: the History of my Raised Terrace Garden

Posted by on November 5, 2021

August 30, 2021. Twilight, on my Raised Terrace Garden

It’s twilight, in late August. After a day of sporadic rain showers the skies are clearing, and a rosy mist fills the air. We’re sitting together on the
Raised Terrace Garden at my home in New Hampshire…not speaking…just quietly taking in the gentle beauties that surround us.

August 30, 2021. My pergola/bench on the Raised Terrace Garden

August 30, 2021. A border on the Raised Terrace Garden

You might think that this serene hideaway has been here for a long while.
But as the dreamer, designer, construction supervisor, and planter of this space
I know differently because what I see here this evening coexists with memories
of the arduous, four-year-long process by which this place came into being.

The world’s awash with images of gorgeous gardens, but little documentation
exists of the how the garden-sausage is made.

This extensive (and exhausting, for those of you who are terrified of the
realities of construction) DIARY will chronicle how things in my own
gardens went from this:

August 7, 2017

to this:

October 13, 2021

Or from this:

Nan, on April 6, 2019

to this:

August 21, 2021 (and YES…I’ll eventually get around to disguising the vents to my septic system)

Or from this:

August 7, 2017

to this:

October 13, 2021

And from this:

August 28, 2018

to this:

August 5, 2021

Join me now for a step-by-gnarly-step photographic journal of the 4 years it took to make my raised terrace garden. We’ll start in the summer of 2017, when I began clearing one and a half acres of the sloping, scrub-woods-covered land on the west side of my house (which was built in 2004) to make room for the construction of a new 1000 square foot addition to my home, along with an equivalently-sized raised terrace garden to link the two house-wings. From the outset of this project, the house-addition and its adjoining terrace were of equal importance to me, both aesthetically and functionally.

It’s either alarming or inspiring to recall that my idea for what turned into a gargantuan construction project began innocuously. In March of 2017 I took a day-trip down to Logee’s Greenhouses, in Danielson, CT. New Hampshire’s long Winter had begun to discourage me and I needed to surround myself with plants and warm, humid air. I found myself lingering in Logee’s water-plant greenhouse, where statuesque papyrus grew in shallow pools and fountains trickled. That night, back in New Hampshire, I especially missed those water-sounds and then realized, “I need a water garden room!” I began prowling around my house, considering how I might attach such a room to the existing structure, and immediately realized that my upright, rectangular home, which had never properly embraced the gardens I’d planted around it, needed another arm…an arm that originated with a water garden room, but then stretched itself into a long, low wing that would embrace the greater landscape, while it also provided the backbone for a private, southwest-facing Raised Terrace Garden.

I began sketching floor plans, and the layout of a new wing, which I envisioned both as a graceful expansion of my current living spaces, as well as a future, single-floor, ancillary dwelling unit (for myself, when Old-Lady-Hood finally clobbers me), immediately became obvious. But because this DIARY is about Making Gardens, and not about building Houses, I’ll mostly illustrate how the Landscapes that now surround the new wing of my home developed.

However, because my dream had always been to seamlessly integrate the architecture of a house with the hardscapes of a garden (such hardscapes being vital to provide year-round visual interest), and to weave together lines of sight, so that the outward views from every room were linked to specific garden features, the creation of my Raised Terrace Garden could only follow the construction of my new house wing. And once the Terrace Garden had become a reality, I also knew that I’d need to create features in the farther-flung portions of my yard so that, from my raised vantage point on the Terrace, I’d have attractive, intermediate-distance vistas to distract my eyes from the wonderful but ungovernable wildness of the thousands of acres of nature preserves which surround my property.

In this photo journal we’ll also see the importance of plumbing, both indoors and outside. These house and garden expansion plans would necessitate replacing my original septic system, installing a larger system in a new location, as well as building a civil-engineering-sized network of underground storm drains to reroute the always-flowing groundwater of Mount Monadnock’s watershed AROUND my construction site, and then down into the little pond in my lower meadow. As a gardener, I’ve always been grateful for Mother Nature’s copious supply of moisture, but there were periods of flooding (prior to completion of those subterranean drainage systems) when I came close to despair, particularly on the day when a local sage, regarding my soupy site, observed, “Nan, what you’ve got here is an upland swamp.”

As I’ve sifted through my photo archives and once again view the mud, boulders, flooding, towering dirt piles, and giant holes in the ground—utterly normal results of the controlled and prolonged mayhem of construction–I marvel that I kept my cool throughout. For a moment I’d considered titling this DIARY “Mud, Sweat and Tears,” but although there was a fair bit of worry, I shed no tears. Instead, being able to concoct, conduct and conclude this project MUST qualify as one of my life’s high privileges. But, then again, I’ve always had odd ways of entertaining myself.

Many people have labored to transform my Vision about what my home and garden should be into a Reality. From the day that logging crews first rolled up in their huge trucks until the present, nearly 100 highly-skilled workers have spent time onsite; some making fleeting half-day calls, and others slogging along here beside me, from beginning to the not-bitter-end.

For the purposes of this DIARY about making my Raised Terrace Garden, I’ll list the Core Characters whose work was essential:

*General Contractor: David Cutter. Cutter Construction Co., Peterborough, NH
with Dave’s Main Crew: Trevor Cutter, John Pierce, Michael Belliveau
*Finish Carpenters: Jake Cutter & Kevin Cutter
JM Cutter Carpentry. Antrim, NH
*Excavation, Septic System Installation, Road Building, Ground Water Management,
& Steel Fabrication: Benjamin Reynolds
BCR Construction, Walpole, NH
*Terrace Laying, Stonewall Crafting, & Landscaping: Andrew Hautanen
Hautanen’s Property Maintenance, Jaffrey, NH

Garden & Landscape Designer, and On-Site Supervisor: Nan Quick

SUMMER OF 2017: CLEARING THE LAND

Long before I bought these 5 acres, loggers had swept through and harvested all of the old-growth trees. But the scruffy woodlands they left in their wake are the habitats of bats, birds, insects, bear, bobcats, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, moose, porcupine, raccoon, squirrels, weasels & woodchucks. I delight in sharing my life and land with these creatures, although some of my gardener-friends consider the presence of wildlife to be an ongoing nightmare. I, however, have learned to plant things that the deer, especially, tend NOT to munch. But because my property is surrounded by vast tracts of protected land, I had no problem
deciding to knock down a bit more of the forest to make room for my house and garden expansions.

July 31, 2017 The land-clearing begins. This entire process took a week.
As the loggers were departing, the air in my yard had become so full of tiny particulates (sawdust
from the felled/chipped trees), that all of the smoke detector alarms inside of my house
began sounding…a dramatic send-off, after those 5 days of relentless noise.

July 31, 2017 Once the trees had been cut, bulldozers arrived to pry giant
tree stumps out from the soil, which consists of clay, pebbles, and boulders. The native
soil here makes agricultural endeavors difficult, which is why home-gardeners
truck in good soil for their garden beds, and also why in the mid 1800s, all of the smart farmers
left New Hampshire and moved to the Midwest.

August 7, 2017 Eventually, hundreds of tons of boulders were unearthed…I was not amused by the emergence of this unexpected pile of glacial debris. But I eventually realized I’d been gifted with a mountain of useful building material.

SUMMER OF 2018: EXCAVATION OF THE BUILDING SITE BEGINS

I’ve worked with the unflappable Dave Cutter, of Cutter Construction, since 1999. He built my parents’ home, as well as the house I was about to enlarge (the structure I call my “white house,” completed in 2004). When Dave saw the scope of my expansion project he recommended only one excavation man who’d be equal to the Job:
thus Ben Reynolds entered the scene. As we began working together, I had NO idea how challenging my newly-cleared site would turn out to be, or how multi-talented Ben is, or how critically important he would become as we problem-solved our way through the next three years. And never once, despite mud, and boulders, and flooding, and revised Plans, was Ben anything but calm and smiling…which matches the way I work, no matter WHAT.

May 31, 2018.
Ben Reynolds

I wanted the location of my new Raised Terrace Garden to be smack-dab where the septic tank and septic field of the white house were located…talk about making things difficult, from the get-go. But before Ben could even think about septic system problems, he had to unearth the 500 gallon liquid propane tank that was buried where the foundation for the new house wing (which I knew I’d paint black, thus calling it the “black wing”) would go.

May 31, 2018.
Ben & one of his rigs

June 5, 2018.
Digging begins

June 5, 2018 Although it hadn’t rained, we discovered that the subsurface soil
was permanently moist….and were thus introduced to the Mount Monadnock watershed.

June 6, 2018 Ben prepares a roadbed for the driveway extension. Heavy trucks
would soon be arriving, and needed a stable surface upon which to park.

June 10, 2018 Excavation begins on hillside behind the site for the new wing

June 10, 2018 So THIS is what can be done with some of those boulders we unearthed! Terracing begins, for the retaining walls behind where the new wing will go.

June 12, 2018.
Nan, standing in Ben’s bucket. Having men with large machines onsite, doing my bidding, makes me very happy. I’m a Simple Soul.

June 15, 2018. The hole for the foundation to support the new wing begins to be dug.

July 16, 2018. This dirt, removed to make the foundation hole, will eventually be used as fill for the Raised Terrace Garden.

July 16, 2018. To the west of the new house wing, Ben is building a septic field
to replace the smaller, original septic field that’ll have to removed, to clear space for
my Raised Terrace Garden. This new septic field is sloped, to conform to the grade
of the hill.

July 18, 2018. Rainstorms the previous night turned the new foundation hole
into a swimming pool. Dave then brought 2 pumps, which ran continuously.
The funky white pipe on stilts is the white house’s sewage drain,
which leads to the still-in-place original septic tank (to the left of the photo). Somehow, this
wonky arrangement that Ben improvised actually worked, and allowed me to flush with abandon, as construction outside continued.

July 20, 2018. The hole for the new wing’s foundation walls and basement.

July 24, 2018 The forms for the foundation’s footings are built. Once footings
appear, house-construction really gets underway. VERY exciting.

July 25, 2018 The Mighty Men from Battaglia Foundations, of Antrim, NH
are removing the forms from around the poured concrete.

And now Pat Battaglia (the imposing gentleman in orange who is operating the crane), is unloading the forms his crew will use to make the walls of the foundation. In the upper right-hand corner of this photo you can see the pipes of Ben’s sloping septic field.

July 26, 2018. Battaglia’s crew installs rebar, which will strengthen the foundation walls. These men work with precision and at breakneck (but, hopefully not literally) speed.

July 25, 2018 Building the foundation’s walls on this steep, very muddy slope is extremely challenging. After all was said and done, Pat Battaglia informed me that my site had been one of his year’s most difficult.

These step-by-step photos illustrating all of the work that would eventually be hidden, once my project had been completed, are critical to understanding just what it takes to prepare the underpinnings for ANY major construction project…be it for a house, or a hardscape-based
garden. When I was a novice gardener, one of the first lessons I learned was that, in order to flourish, a $20.00 rose bush would need to be planted in a $40.00 hole. One must apply that same reasoning when building ANYTHING.

July 25, 2018 All of the forms for the foundation walls are in place, ready to be filled with concrete.

July 26, 2018 The concrete pumping truck arrives

July 26, 2018 The giant arm of the pumping truck, operated by remote-control, is positioned over the foundation wall’s forms.

July 26, 2018 Pat Battaglia, owner of the Company and hardest-working man on
his team, directs the first batch of concrete into the foundation forms.

July 26, 2018 The Baryshnikov of Concrete-Workers

July 26, 2018 Foundation wall forms now completely filled with concrete

July 27, 2018 At first light the next morning, the wall-forms are removed.

August 3, 2018 In the foreground: the future site of my Raised Terrace Garden.

August 4, 2018 AARGH. Another heavy rain overnight. More flooding.

August 15, 2018 Ben installs more perimeter drains around the new foundation. The future Raised Terrace Garden will replace the dirt you see here.

August 16, 2018 Ben’s winning the war against flooding, and is adding layers of coarse stone, fine stone, and sand over the perimeter drains.

August 17, 2018 Ben is using more and more of those unearthed boulders to make retaining walls, uphill (to the north) of the new house wing’s foundation.


September 13, 2018 At dawn, Dave (in orange shirt) and Ben watch as concrete is poured to make the basement’s floor. Radiant, in-floor-heating coils are looped over layers of blue insulation board.

September 13, 2018 Just a few hours after the concrete pour, the new floor is smoothed.

September 18, 2018 The site’s porta-potty…necessary nastiness!

September 18, 2018 Speaking of potties: My enormous new septic tank arrives.

September 18, 2018 Behold the marvels of remote-controlled hoists! Ben watches as the truck driver expertly flies the bottom half of the septic tank.

September 18, 2018 Ben, nearly swallowed up by the ground, eases the top of new septic tank into position. As I watched these men work, I was enthralled by their skills, and horrified by the danger.

September 21, 2018. Dave has set up a proper office in the new basement.

September 24, 2018 The first truckload of lumber is delivered.

September 24, 2018 Wood stacked, and ready for Dave’s carpenters.

September 24, 2018 View, from the northwest corner of the site. The large trench running alongside the foundation wall will contain an underground network of various pipes: the new whole-house sewer pipes, a pipe for the electric wires that’ll power the new septic system’s pump, & several levels of perimeter drains which will direct groundwater away from the foundation.

September 24, 2018 Ben’s now buried the new septic tank.

October 1, 2018 Dave’s Dog

October 5, 2018 Dave’s crew has already laid down the floor joists.

October 9, 2018 The Floor Deck begins.

October 9, 2018 Completed Floor Deck

October 16, 2018 Trevor & Mike begin to build the stud walls.

October 16, 2018 Dave Cutter’s crew (l-r: Mike Shubelka, Trevor Cutter, & Michael Belliveau) raise the first stud wall.

October 16, 2018 More stud walls in place.

October 16, 2018 Hard to imagine that someday this mess will become the tranquil Raised Terrace Garden of my imagination.

October 24, 2018 At dawn, Dave delivers the beautiful roof trusses that his team has built.

October 24, 2018
The Truss Trailer

October 24, 2018
While Trevor drives the CAT, Mike S. & Mike B. swing the first truss towards the framed-walls.

October 24, 2018 Trusses eased into position

October 24, 2018 Rain begins to fall steadily, but all trusses are now secured.

October 26, 2018 The Roof has Rafters

October 26, 2018 The structure begins to be sealed up against the Elements.

October 30, 2018
Raw framing is SO beautiful.

October 31, 2018
Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2018
View, from my pond-meadow

November 6, 2018
Now that the new septic system is connected to my white house, we’ve pumped and then destroyed the original septic tank, which was buried dead-center in the area where my Raised Terrace Garden will be built. This crater is where the original septic tank once was. NOTHING’s simple about this Project.

November 6, 2018 Another view of the area where the new Raised Terrace Garden
will be. But MORE concrete retaining walls still need to be built in
this area, to contain and lift up that Garden. This is a huge task that’ll have to wait until next year.

November 8, 2018
The Water Garden Room (the kernel of this Whole Enterprise)
begins to be framed. The Water Garden Room will be the primary link between
both wings of my house, and the Raised Terrace Garden.

November 8, 2018 Nearing Sunset.

November 14, 2018 The south side of the new house-wing, which will be the backbone of the future Raised Terrace Garden.

November 20, 2018 Winter’s First Snow.

December 29, 2018
All windows are now installed. We’re finally Winter-Ready.

YEAR 2019: CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES

January 15, 2019 Another milestone: Standing Seam Metal Roof has been
completed.

February 14, 2019
Black-stained cedar clapboards now on.

March 4, 2019
More Snow.

April 11, 2019
NO Snow!

April 6, 2019
Ever-optimistic, Nan explains her PLAN to some Dubious Visitors.

July 4, 2019
Ben’s about to begin excavating this area, as we prepare to build the walls for the Raised Terrace Garden.

July 4, 2019
On my drafting board—my Plans for the Raised Terrace Garden.
*Layout of Garden Beds, Paths, & Terrace.
*Foundation Plan, with underground drainage pipes indicated.
*Garden Gate, and Section to show heights of foundation walls.

July 4, 2019
My plan for the Raised Terrace Garden’s Pergola/Bench, which will be built by Jake and Kevin Cutter (who, together with their
assistant Justin have throughout the Spring been continuing their fine carpentry on the interiors of the new house-wing).

July 4, 2019
Ginger, helping as usual.

July 10, 2019
Ben has finished digging the hole for the footings and retaining walls of the future Raised Terrace Garden.

July 10, 2019
A wider view of the site…hey, at least it’s not raining.

July 10, 2019
A closer look at the foundation hole for the Terrace Garden.

July 24, 2019
The Mighty Men of Battaglia Foundations have returned,
and are building the footings for the Raised Terrace’s retaining walls.

July 24, 2019
The concrete pour begins, for the footings

July 25, 2019
The Footings are IN!

July 29, 2019
Jake and Kevin Cutter and their assistant Justin build the form to hold the concrete foundation that’ll support the steps which lead from the Raised Terrace Garden up to the Water Garden Room.

July 29, 2019
Jake and Kevin Cutter and their assistant Justin
now build the form for the step outside the white house that’ll lead down to the
Raised Terrace Garden.

July 29, 2019
Pat Battaglia’s back, loaded with foundation wall forms.

July 29, 2019
Pat and his Crew erect the forms for the Raised Terrace Garden’s
foundation walls.

July 29, 2019
By mid-afternoon, the foundation wall concrete has been poured.

July 30, 2019
At long-last: Foundation walls for the Raised Terrace Garden!

July 30, 2019
And the foundations for the steps are also poured.

July 30, 2019 Exterior of the Raised Terrace Garden’s foundation wall. Ben will
now be able to fill this VOID with the giant dirt piles that have been lined up at the edge of
my construction site for the past year. But first, he’ll put drainage pipes on the bottom
and along the perimeter of these newly-made retaining walls. Those drainage pipes will
be connected to his huge, property-wide French Drain System that’s been keeping the rest of my
yard from flooding.

August 30, 2019 Now that Ben’s raised the level of the ground in the
Terrace Garden by about 8 feet, footings can be made to support my Pergola/Bench.

October 8, 2019
Slabs of granite, for Step-tops

October 8 2019
Granite is now placed atop the concrete foundation for the
steps that lead up to the Water Garden Room.

October 8, 2019
Steps to the Water Garden Room are done. All that remains to do here
is for Jake Cutter to design and fabricate a metal and steel-wire railing for the steps.

October 25, 2019 Exterior view of the Terrace Garden’s new retaining walls,
which have now been capped with granite.

November 16, 2019 With YET ANOTHER Winter looming, Ben covers
the raw soil of the Raised Terrace Garden with a thick blanket of hay.

November 17, 2019 We’ve made quite a bit of progress. The new house wing
is now inhabitable. Next Year will be ALL ABOUT THE TERRACE GARDEN!

November 27, 2019
Jake and Kevin Cutter deliver the Pergola/Bench

November 17, 2019
And now it has its copper-topped HAT.

November 17, 2019
I designed the seat-backs of the Bench to be of steel mesh. Jake will affix the mesh soon.

YEAR 2020: THE TERRACE GARDEN COMES TO LIFE

January 15, 2020 Ginger, on the window seat of the new house wing, is sensibly turning her back to the outside, since there’s nothing much to admire on the Raised Terrace Garden.

January 19, 2020 at 8:38AM.
Even in its infant-state, my Terrace Garden does have its MOMENTS.

May 5, 2020
Ben is BACK. He’s preparing the top-layers of fill, on the
Raised Terrace Garden.

May 5, 2020 A long ramp (which I eventually planted with New Zealand White Clover, and Grass) will lead from the driveway extension up to the Terrace Garden.

May 5, 2020 Ben and his father Sean must make the ramp wide and strong
enough to support their mid-size excavation machine, which they’ll use to transport gravel,
soil, and finally the 13 huge corten steel garden-bed-frames that Ben’s fabricated for me, up onto
the Terrace Garden.

May 2, 2020
Daffodils, below the future ramp that’ll lead to the Raised Terrace Garden

May 3, 2020
The South elevation of my expanded home and gardens

May 16, 2020
My Pergola/Bench

May 16, 2020 The ornamental Pear Tree, which I planted in 2007 as a tiny
sapling, is now 40 feet high, and is just beginning its annual SHOW of blossoms.

May 21, 2020
Yes…Ben is also a steel-fabricator. Over the past year he’s built me 13 corten steel garden bed frames. The largest frame measures
4 feet wide by 16 feet long by 18 inches deep. This is his first delivery
of those frames, which will define the interior geometry of the Terrace Garden.

May 24, 2020
The West Side of my expanded home and gardens.

June 2, 2020
Ben begins to place the new garden bed frames, which he then fills with GOOD soil.

June 14, 2020
Below the Ramp, my peonies and white fringe tree are doing
their Usual June Thing.

June 19, 2020
More garden beds are settled.

June 19, 2020
Garden beds along the western retaining wall

June 19, 2020
Garden beds outside of the new wing’s window seat

 

June 19, 2020
I’m making my daily photographic record (after all, how could
I POSSIBLY remember this in detail?)

June 19, 2020
Detail of Corten steel
(painted black) garden bed frame

June 19, 2020
Ben has spread a layer of fine sand beneath the area where
Andy Hautanen will eventually lay down granite paving stones, to form the main
Terrace of the Raised Garden. I’ve already begun planting perennials in the
perimeter beds. Here you see a line of 8 Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Avalanche,’
feather reed grass.
A total of 40 of these ornamental grasses are planted in the perimeter beds.

June 23, 2020
More progress, on the Raised Terrace Garden, as seen from the 2nd floor of the white house.

June 23, 2020
I’ve made my decision about the two kinds of granite that
I’ll use for the Terrace. Swenson Granite in Amherst, NH has sent me these
samples, which I’ve set on the granite step which leads from the Terrace Garden
into my home. Woodbury Gray, and Calendonia…both with Thermal Top
finish (to keep them from being slippery in the rain),will do nicely. All of the slabs of granite will be 2 inches thick, and I’ll use various sizes of both colors of the granite, but will design a paving pattern
with only standard-dimensions of granite.

June 24, 2020
Now that I’ve chosen my granite, it’s time to design the Paving
Pattern Plan that Andy Hautanen will follow when he lays down my Terrace.

June 24, 2020
Here’s my sketch of the repeating-pattern that I’ll use.

June 24, 2020
Ginger lets me know what she thinks about this…

June 30, 2020
I’ve completed my Plan for the Terrace Paving

July 5, 2020
The areas beyond the driveway extension begin to be tamed.

July 27, 2020
Andy Hautanen has compacted the layer of sand under the
paths, and is beginning to add a thick top-layer of fine gray gravel. He’s also secured the pedestal that’ll support an armillary sphere.

July 29, 2020
Andy’s completed work on the paths, and has mounted
a sculpture by Kevin Box (a pair of folded steel Origami Birds,
perched on a column of New Mexico sandstone) on the steps outside of the Water Garden Room.

As all of the hubbub for the Raised Terrace Garden had been going on, there’d also been serious construction on the farther reaches of my yard, at the western edge of the pond-meadow. After Ben had used all of the boulders he needed to build retaining walls around the new house wing and driveway extension, a massive quantity of those boulders (unearthed back in 2017 when I had more of my woodlands cut down) still remained. I realized that this rubble could be used to make a sinuous, 100 foot long raised pathway leading to a large stone circle. I worked with the landform artist Duncan Mackenzie to design this enormous piece of functional sculpture, which Duncan then spent the summer of 2019 building.

August 7, 2020
In my pond-meadow: Stone Circle, with a 100-foot long Raised Path behind it. This giant assemblage was created to use up
my abundant supply of boulders, to create a visual transition between my gardens
and the untamed woodlands., and–not incidentally–to provide me with places to walk and sit that are raised above my tick-infested
pond-meadow.

August 7,2020
The primary surface of the stone circle’s terrace and the raised path is
compacted stone dust.
I added (one heavy wheelbarrow at a time) fine gray gravel around the edges
of the stone dust, to give stormwaters a drainage path. There’s also a fireplace on the far side of the circle. When I’m in this space, I either feel like I’m 5 years
old…or Wilma Flintstone.

August 7, 2020
I asked Duncan to balance smaller rocks atop the boulders, thus creating seat-backs for these weirdly-comfortable Thrones. From this spot, I can
sit and look uphill, towards the new Terrace Garden.

August 7, 2020
A view from one of the four entrances to the Stone Circle,
back up towards the driveway extension.

August 7, 2020
Along the west edge of the raised pathway I planted
5 Willow shrubs (Salix discolor), which tolerate deer and wet soil (both of which I have plenty of).

August 9, 2020 Up on the Terrace: Nicotiana
( flowering Tobacco) that I started from seed (indoors, in
April) is interplanted with the Calamagrostis grasses.

August 9, 2020
My favorite Nicotiana: CHARTREUSE blossoms

August 9, 2020
There’s no such thing as too much Nicotiana (and they re-seed themselves, so next summer they’ll reappear ).

 

August 9, 2020
Andy’s ready to begin laying granite down to form the Terrace.

August 11, 2020 Swenson Granite delivers!

August 11, 2020
Once again, I marvel at the magic and might of heavy equipment.

August 12, 2020
All of my granite, arrayed on pallets.

August 13, 2020
Andy has already laid the first granite down over compacted stone dust and heavy-duty landscape fabric. I’ve specified that NO mortar be used in the construction of this Terrace.A 2-inch-deep channel of stone dust also separates each piece of granite, which will allow rainwater to percolate down into the
layers of fine stone, dirt, and rock that support the Terrace, and eventually into the drainage pipes that are buried many feet below.

August 13, 2020
Another view of the first-laid pieces of granite.

August 13 2020
Looking south.

August 13, 2020
Looking west.

August 13, 2020
Detail of Andy’s impeccable workmanship.

August 13, 2020
View from the door of the Water Garden Room

August 16. 2020
A step up, to the pergola’s platform.

August 17, 2020
Excellent progress being made.

August 18, 2020
The Terrace granite has just been through its first Serious Rainstorm, and I’m delighted that the surface drained perfectly…no pooling, no deterioration of the stone dust or under-layers.

August 21, 2020
But sunset today reminds me that, with all of the attention I’ve been giving to what’s underfoot on the Terrace, I also ought to look UP.

August 23, 2020
The main expanse of the Terrace is complete.

August 29, 2020
Andy has now laid ALL of the Terrace’s granite.

September 3, 2020
I’ve begun to arrange garden furniture (all designed
by me, hand-crafted by Morrell Metalsmiths, of Colrain, MA, and powder-coated by
Westside Finishing, in Holyoke, MA).

September 3, 2020
My Lorenzo Arm Chair: this is my favorite sitting-spot on the Terrace. When I exhibited my garden furniture at London’s Chelsea Flower Show, in 2009, a gentleman stepped into my tent, spied a Lorenzo Arm Chair, and proceeded to sit in it for next two hours. When he arose to leave, he proclaimed, “you should call this the King of Tonga Chair.”

September 6, 2020
The Indispensible Andy Hautanen. He’d just mounted my
Armillary Sphere.

Late in the day on September 6th, Andy asked a friend to make these drone-photos:

September 6, 2020

September 6, 2020
Late Afternoon

September 6, 2020
Dusk

September 6, 2020

From now on, the Terrace will be entirely my domain: let the Gardening Begin!

September 11, 2020

Sept 15, 2020.
Over the summer, while Ben and then Andy had been completing the
hardscapes
of my Terrace, I’d been growing veggies there. Here’s my first harvest of potatoes.

September 17, 2020. Before Winter arrives, there ought to be enough time for me to plant lots of little perennials in the Terrace’s garden beds. Here’s my first
shipment of plants from Bluestone Perennials www.bluestoneperennials.com
This family-owned business of growers in Ohio has been one of my gardening mainstays, for the past 30 years.

September 17, 2020 Bluestone’s carefully-packed perennials, each in 3 inch square
peat pots that can be planted directly into the ground.

September 17, 2020
I’ve now watered all of the little plants.

September 20, 2020
The core-plantings on the Terrace are all in.

I’ve now planted all of the Bluestone perennials, along with 650 spring-blooming flower bulbs from VanEngelen, Inc www.vanengelen.com , as well as
some shrubs from Wilson Brothers Gardens www.wilsonbrosgardens.com ,
to anchor the garden beds. I’ve also planted a gingko tree, to replace a dwarf river birch
that I’d rashly planted in one of the raised garden beds next to Andy’s newly-laid Terrace stones.
The birch has now been replanted below the Terrace’s retaining walls, in a position where its fast-growing and invasive root system will do no harm.

These are my Plant Lists for Perennials & Shrubs:

Bluestone Perennials: Veronica Perfectly Picasso,Veronica First Lady, Iberis Autumn Beauty,
Iberis Snowsation, Geranium Purple Ghost, Dianthus Istaul White, Dianthus Arctic Fire,
Anemone Honorine Jobert, Sporobolus Heterolepsis Tara, Calamagrostis Avalanche,
Sedum Touchdown Teak, Sedum Autumn Fire, Phlox Flame White Eye, Phlox David,
Helleborus Ivory Prince, Helleborus Picotee Pearl

Van Engelen bulbs: Allium Christophii, Tulip Linifolia, Tulip Turkestanica, Tulip Whittallii,
Narcissus February Silver, Narcissus Iwona, Narcissus Thalia

Wilson Brothers Gardens: Hydrangea Little Lime, Clematis Sweet Autumn, Boxwood Wintergreen

White Flower Farm: Rose ‘The Fairy’ (the best, long-flowering, dwarf rose bush)

September 20, 2020 I’ve also hand-built a fieldstone retaining wall and small garden bed below the edge of the grass/clover ramp. Yes…much of my life
during the warm months is spent pushing wheelbarrows full of rocks, and always UPHILL.

September 20, 2020
The relocated river birch, to the left of the ramp.

September 20, 2020
My Pergola always reminds me to admire the SKY.

September 26, 2020 And from my perch up on the Terrace, I can enjoy my view of wild turkeys pecking their way around my Stone Circle.

September 26, 2020 Suddenly, my Terrace seems at one with its surroundings.

October 3, 2020
And my house-extension is similarly settled upon the land.

October 3, 2020
But there are still a few decorations to add: 8 large zinc planters from Restoration Hardware, which I’ll fill next summer with scarlet geraniums.

October 3, 2020
And at the corners of these two garden beds I’ve placed hand- wrought iron hose guides, from Campo de’ Fiori, in Sheffield, MA.

NOTE: If you live and garden in the vicinity of squirrels, please be sure to
choose garden ornaments and containers that are made of ZINC. Lead ornaments
look great, but will almost immediately fall victim to the teething habits of
squirrels, who, undaunted by the fact that gnawing on lead will eventually kill them,
are compelled to do so to wear down their continually growing teeth.

October 7, 2020
My view, from the Terrace

October 7, 2020
Twilight

October 7, 2020
Since my Terrace has been completed, I find myself going outside every evening, to watch the sun set.

October 30, 2020 SNOW? It’s not even Halloween!

December 6, 2020
This scene, although lovely, already has me dreaming
about what everything I planted on the Terrace Garden will look like, next Spring.

YEAR 2021: A FULL GROWING SEASON OF FLOWERS ON THE TERRACE GARDEN

February 2, 2021
A thick blanket of snow insulates the newly planted perennials

March 17, 2021
The herd of white-tailed deer who also live here stay in my
Pond-Meadow; never once have they investigated the Raised Terrace Garden (which was my PLAN and my HOPE).

March 25, 2021
Although there’s no flower-action yet on the Terrace, I know that
in another month my species tulips will begin to appear.

April 3, 2021
Solar lights illuminate the armillary sphere

April 13, 2021
All 100 of my Tulip Turkestanica bulbs have burst into bloom!

April 26, 2021
Although it’s cold and rainy, I’m hoping for sunny days and have
optimistically mounted an Umbrella on the Terrace.

May 1, 2021
This is what May Day in New Hampshire often feels like….CHILLY!
Per usual, I’m explaining to Visitors what I planted in my garden beds.

May 1, 2021 Calamagrostis and Narcissus February Silver (this daffodil clearly
has a fanciful name, having only just now bloomed in May)

May 1, 2021
I’ve mounted a dozen solar lights along the Raised Path that leads to my Stone Circle

This is what those lights look like, from dusk till dawn

May 4, 2021
The Terrace beds are beginning to look like SOMETHING.

May 4,2021
And the Ornamental Pear Tree provides a very nice backdrop for the Terrace’s Pergola and flowers.

May 6, 2021
Looking south

May 10, 2021
Narcissus February Silver & Tulip Whittallii

May 10, 2021
Tulip Linifolia & Iberis

May 10, 2021
Narcissus Iwona

May 10, 2021 Calamagrostis, Narcissus February Silver, Narcissus Thalia

May 10, 2021
Tulip Linifolia, Sedum

May 10, 2021
Hellebores, Calamagrostis,
Narcissus in bud

May 11, 2021
The Terrace’s
Central Beds

May 15, 2021
Pergola, Daffodils, Geraniums

May 18, 2021
Tulip Whittallii,
Narcissus Iwona

May 18, 2021
I like my borders to be lushly planted

May 18, 2021
All the Terrace’s daffodils are now in full bloom

May 22, 2021
View of the Terrace, from the Water Garden Room

May 23, 2021
Stormy skies

June 5,2021
The White Fringe Tree by the ramp is now in bloom

June 8, 2021
Allium Christophii, Dianthus

June 8, 2021
June flowers have now come into their own

June 8, 2021
Raised beds and Armillary Sphere

June 8, 2021
In the garden below the ramp: peonies, lupin, poppies and fringe tree

June 9, 2021 On the Terrace: my first morning glories (which I began indoors from seed and then transplanted) have bloomed.

June 9, 2021 Heirloom peonies…from the Michigan garden of my sister-in-law’s
great-grandmother. These plants are workhorses and TREASURES.

June 13, 2021 Somehow, the presence now of my Pergola makes me more aware
of New Hampshire’s exquisite skies.

June 13, 2021
White Camassia Lily, Calamagrostis feather grass

June 13, 2021
Boxwood, Allium (note: in several years each of the little boxwoods I planted will have grown large enough for me to then clip into tidy shapes)

June 13, 2021
Sedum, Allium, Calamagrostis

June 13, 2021
The Red Geraniums have finally gotten spectacular. These were
grown for me by a local nursery: Amazing Flower Farm, New Ipswich, NH.

June 19, 2021 8:45PM

June 26, 2021
Andy has spread many truckloads of better soil over the
sloping septic field and the western portion of my meadow. For ease of maintenance, this area will remain a lawn.

June 26, 2021
Along the western-most edge of my property I formed an
80 foot long, crescent-shaped raised garden bed. I’ve planted Winterberry shrubs, and Foxgloves (from seed) in this area.

June 26, 2021
Back on the Terrace: Knautia (variegated Scabiosa)

June 26, 2021
Gingko Tree (which will eventually grow to 15 feet tall), and Allium

June 28, 2021
Old Fashioned Single Hollyhocks (which I began from seed) begin to bloom!

June 28, 2021
Scabiosa,
Rose ‘The Fairy’

June 30, 2021
Morning Glories

Hollyhocks

June 30, 2021
Spires of tall white Veronica

July 5, 2021
And now the deep-rose colored Hollyhocks bloom

July 6, 2021
Raised beds by the new wing’s window seat

July 11, 2021
Getting ready for a Terrace Tea Party

August 5, 2021
Morning Glories, Tall white Cleome (aka Spider Flower), all begun indoors by me from seed, and then transplanted

August 5, 2021
I’ve put more pieces of my garden furniture on the Terrace

August 5, 2021
Central raised beds

August 5, 2021
Misty morning

August 5, 2021
Misty morning

August 12, 2021
I’ve added a swathe of recycled blue glass to the Raised Path

August 24, 2021 View from the Raised Path

August 24, 2021
View of the Pond-Meadow, from the back side of the
Stone Circle

August 26. 2021 The Pond-Meadow

August 26, 2021 Coneflowers and Butterflies, in the Pond-Meadow

August 30, 2021
The Terrace at twilight. Pink Cleome & Chartreuse Nicotiana are
now both in bloom. Both are self-seeding annuals, so next summer these should reappear.

August 30, 2021
Pink Cleome and Calamagrostis (in tassel) are lovely together.

September 3, 2021 Nicotiana, Sedum, Hydrangea

September 3, 2021
Two kinds of Sedum, Nicotiana

September 3, 2021
Phlox

September 3, 2021 Morning Glories on Armillary Sphere

September 3, 2021 Central raised beds

September 3, 2021 Morning Glory, White Cleome–with seed pods

September 3, 2021
Pink Cleome

September 4, 2021
View of Terrace from Ramp

September 15, 2021 Blowsy Blooms on the Terrace, in early Autumn

September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021

September 22, 2021 View of Terrace, from 2nd floor of white house

September 23, 2021 Hydrangea, Sedum, Nicotiana

September 23, 2021
Fall-blooming Clematis, on the Armillary’s Column

September 23, 2021 Anenome Buds, Purple Morning Glories

October 12, 2021 Nightfall

October 13, 2021

October 13, 2021 Anemone Hororine Jobert: the FINAL perennial to bloom on the Terrace Garden

October 14, 2021
Blue Morning Glory, on the Armillary Sphere

October 14, 2021 Morning Glories, at Sunrise. My last bounty of Terrace flowers,
before Autumn’s first frost.

October 14, 2021
My Water Garden Room at night, seen from the Terrace.

As cold weather causes my Gardens on the Terrace to wilt, and I prepare to cut back perennials and remove annual flowers,
I know that when Winter arrives, I’ll be able to retreat to the comforting warmth of my little Water Garden Room, where dappled sunlight gleams upon
white granite floors, and potted palms and lush ferns flourish, while the sounds of trickling wall fountains echo. When I think back about how a fleeting thought
of adding a Water Garden Room to my home began this enormous, 4-year-long project…about how my modest
notion germinated an alluring possibility, which sprouted into a sketch for an expanded house, which burgeoned into a vision for a transformed landscape, and finally ripened into an inevitable battle plan…I’m convinced of the Power of Ideas, and reminded that, inherently, we humans are Builders.
But I’m glad that in my many years of gardening, as I’ve made every mistake possible and humbled myself before Gaia, I’ve thus learned that what we construct
must also harmonize with our natural surroundings. I’ve also been taught one of life’s most valuable lessons: that growing ANYTHING from a seed requires much time, adaptability, skill, and optimism.

Copyright 2021. Nan Quick—Nan Quick’s Diaries for Armchair Travelers. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express & written permission from Nan Quick is strictly prohibited.

3 Responses to How Gardens are REALLY made: the History of my Raised Terrace Garden

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *