Sunday, November 6, 2011


All who come to visit our garden are impressed by the walls that surround our house. They really are the result of an architect who listened to his client.

Let me quote here something I read recently. In 1220 King Henry III gave these instructions to his bailiff.

'to make round about the garden of our queen two walls, good and high, so that no one may be able to enter, with a becoming and honorable herbary near our fish pond, in which the same queen may be able to amuse herself' 

Now, I am no queen and the idea here was not to keep people out but to keep out deer, and yes I do 'amuse' myself inside these walls, although many would not call it amusement. I don't have a fishpond, although I am so entranced by the tank ponds I see in my fellow blogging gardeners' gardens that I may just have to find a spot for a small one.  In fact I think I may have just the spot!

Maybe Henry was the first to ask for such walls. If he was, then he started something because ever since then people have been building walls around their gardens. They may have used brick, stone, wood fences, tall hedges, but most houses have their 'walled' gardens. Ours may be a little different because they do not delineate the property, as many do, but rather create an oasis within our property.

The land slopes across the property and so the house, which is a single story, was built on three levels. Just a foot between each level. Then a long wall was built out from the where one level drops, with an archway and several 'windows'. This created a garden areas on the higher level, which we call our English garden, and our 'sunken garden' on the lower.
Here is a glimpse of what we had undertaken in asking for walls.

 The walls were there but then it was up to us. You can see what we started with. We sit completely on solid ledge stone although they did bring in a load of 'red death'.

The first project was the short dry stone retaining wall which followed the curve of the wall. I saved every flat rock that was exposed during construction, making a huge pile, from which I built the wall.

This curved wall really set the stage for the rest of the garden. What do you do when you have several angles and a curved wall? The easiest thing is to make everything else circular. The brick came from the Habitat for Humanity re-store. A bargain for a palette of bricks donated by a builder. More flat stones from the property filled in the brick edging. This was a project we worked on together. No plans on paper, just a circle marked out on the ground using string and a stick. I always liked doing jigsaw puzzles.

Spring in the English Garden

David made the circular pavers to complement the other circles and used the left over brick to make bed edging and the bird bath circle.

We eat outside when at all possible and so created multiple places to eat at different times of the year.  Although this wasn't the first project we tackled I really think it was the most rewarding.


  1. You did an amazing job. It looks fantastic and all pulled together so well.

  2. I love the before and after on this! We have walls around our place as well and it feels we are protected from the outside world. The plants create this haven for people and your flower choices in your garden.

  3. The transformation is nothing short of amazing! You have such an eye for design.

  4. Wow, just seeing the before and after pictures is awe inspiring.

  5. Wonderful back story! I love that you've created multiple places to dine, that really is my favorite thing about our patio...meals outside!

  6. Amazing! I love to see how people "grow" their spaces. Yours is so lovely. I really enjoyed this bit of background. I am completely "lost" when it comes to tackling an empty space. I don't know where to start. You've done a terrific job.

  7. Oh my goodness, Jenny, this is fascinating. I have so many questions! Was the house designed by the same architect, and built, or remodelled, at the same time?
    And if so, how much input did you have into that? It sounds as if you had a very clear idea of what you wanted, and from what I can see, the house looks wonderful. Living in London, it seems like complete luxury to have walls built around your garden, exactly as you want them. I must move to Texas...

  8. Pięknie !!!
    Jestem zachwycona ogrodem... pozdrawiam Gabi.

  9. I love your garden and the way your house and garden are so integrated.

    Who was the architect?

  10. The design of the wall is great!
    I think they are a very important element in the garden.
    See the before and after is amazing!
    Sure, you find a place for a pond.
    I have one small and now, I want a bigger pond!

  11. If I wasn't already impressed I would be impressed after seeing the before and after. You have done a fantastic job there. Easy to see why this was the most rewarding project of all!
    We didn't get a frost- we got down to 34 but no frost and no damage luckily. Sorry to hear you lost a few plants.
    The lemons I will leave on the tree, eating only the ones that fall, that way when they go to their forever home they have fruit to give. I agree, the taste of the Meyer homegrown vs. grocery is no comparison.

  12. Thanks for the tour. I have a better sense of your garden layout now. What a beautiful home/garden and you've used your resources well.
    You'll enjoy having a pond--it's good you've found a spot for it.

  13. Thanks for the before shots and background on the walls. Invading marauders need control, whether armies or deer!

    All I can say, with 22 years under my belt on many projects, is that your project is the rare nexus of thoughtful clients and a thoughtful architect...too bad it is not more common. I am so glad to share in your delight at the *continuing* results of that intersection!

  14. Tina- Thanks. We love it, but work never ends.
    Rohrerbot-I suppose it's the English in me that has always required, walls fences. I like to have my private space.
    Sweetbay- Thank you. I could never put anything down on paper but I think I have a feel for spaces.
    Katina- It even amazes me. Just have to keep chipping away and it gets there in the end.
    Danger garden- Yes, and I have learnt I don't like to eat on the driveway. Our last house that was the best spot of all.
    Sue- Thanks. I do have a number of good books. That helps.
    Victoria- The house was designed for us. He asked for clippings on designs I liked and I had plenty of those. Also we just said 2 bedrooms, living room and kitchen together, laundry with our bedroom. No powder room. Places to garden. He did it well.
    Ann- We have the architect to thank for that.
    Yolanda-A small pond is next. Probably not for fish though.
    Kacky- I can't believe you didn't get a frost. We either need to move further out or in.
    Desert Dweller- You said it so well. Glad you didn't mention the builder though. I don't have a good word for him!


  15. I am always amazed at all the work you have done yourselves. You have an incredible amount of energy! And, great vision.
    You did a beautiful job.

    We were down to 24 on Friday morning. All tender things in the ground are mush...cannas and sweet potatoes, etc. Clean-up is in progress.

    Hope we get that rain they've promised.

  16. I can see why people are impressed...they are beautiful! I like walled gardens because I think they seem to add a 'natural' privacy.

  17. What a great post...I'm such a sucker for before/after posts...they are beautiful AND inspiring! I really wish we had as much would be wonderful to really stretch our legs...not to mention eating outside!

  18. Wow, that truly looks like an oasis! I love your stone retaining wall and brick that create such a nice circle around your beautiful English garden! Your little patio area is beautifully done too! It's all gorgeous!

  19. No wonder your garden always confused me: I thought the walls marked the edge of your property! Now that I know there are several different "rooms" it's starting to make more sense.

    I love seeing "before" photos of a dirt-pile garden. :-)

  20. Linda- Ask me if I could do it now-ten years on and I'm not sure what the answer would be. However, love thinking up new projects.
    Sage- It is nice to be able to enjoy our privacy. We are lucky.
    Indie- Thank you. I will never forget the day we mortared the stones. My husband kept saying. We must finish today. I was exhausted at the end of it.
    Alan- Yes, there is a whole lot of nothingness out there. I'm glad to only have what I have. Eve that is too much sometimes.

  21. I have loved seeing and reading about your garden. You and your gardens are such an inspiration to me. I refer to back posts all the time. I have always been confused as to the layout of the house and garden areas. This post helped to understand a lot. It would be fun to see a drawing of the aerial view of the house and gardens to get an even better idea. :)

  22. So very inspiring to see how your beautiful garden started out. Encouraging to know that you did this all yourselves.

    Thanks for sharing this part of the story with us.

  23. Jenny, Your garden is inspirational...It's amazing what people can create and you and Alan created an oasis. I envy being able to sit outside and have meals~The mosquitoes are so bad here we had to build a screened porch! gail

  24. It's wonderful to hear the back story of your garden and see before shots. You and David have done an incredible job.

    (No freeze here in NW Austin yet either.)

  25. These are some inspiring before and after shots. I have always wondered about those walls and now I know. I figured they were special.
    Wonderful idea saving those stones!
    David/ :-)