Monday, March 20, 2017

Frogview Cottage

I was looking at a blog the other day, and a garden photo gave me a deep sense of deja vu. I haven't seen the following  photos for twelve years.

When I became tired of spending hours on a riding lawnmower and too old to show horses, we decided to move into town and downsize. The rage at the time was buying craftsman style bungalows and restoring them to their once glory. I loved this house, but I disliked intensely living in a snooty historic district. 
The bungalow was dated on the inside and had rot on the outside. The realtor who was a good friend said, "Jim, you do NOT want this house.". The minute I walked inside I knew I did want that house. It was relaxed, there was a flow, it had a sleepy feeling, and had a sense of warmth. I was so excited that I called my husband and told him I had found "the one".

We moved to the bungalow in the middle of winter. Actually, it was the 30th of December. I had just a couple of months to research everything bungalow. The best book that I bought was called "Outside The Bungalow". It mentioned how the bungalows always had roses and informal plantings to compliment the craftsman style.

Well, if one rose was good, then a hundred or so would be even better! I think my last count was a little over one hundred fifty roses alone. Under plantings of perennials and self sowing annuals are just as important and needed. Oh, lets not forget the bulbs.

I had an oil painting done of the photo above. Anyway, back in the early days of the PC, long before Google, there was a industrious librarian who listed and cross referenced online mail order gardening and plant  suppliers. She also rated them. It was so helpful. I had no idea so many companies mail ordered plants through a computer. I could even look at photos of what I was ordering. What fun!

Our  house was built in 1922. So keeping that in mind, there were no plantings on the property that came after  1922. What fun again! That meant heritage roses. Anyone who has never smelled an antique rose is truly missing out on a free luxury. Heavenly, intoxicating  perfume that you have a hard time pulling your face out of the bloom.

One year, we had our arms twisted by the (very proper) historic people to be on the garden tour. My husband said no way, but then they asked him to be on a committee  and that was that. I think I spent about two thousand dollars getting everything ready for the two day event. We even had a party for the volunteers after the second day of the tour. I had to touch up the paint on the house where needed to make it crisp, then order certain old fashioned annuals (I never used annuals unless they were self sowers) to dress and fill in holes here and there, I had to have everything mulched and I had to have a menu or diagram printed of the 4 gardens to be able to identify certain plants or varieties.

Each garden had a name.  "The Out Front",  "The Gaudy Garden",  "The Joyce Brown Side", and "Jesse's Yard" aka "The Outback". The photos  above and below are of The Joyce Brown Side. She was a bitchy old lady. On the Gaudy Garden side of the house, the lady was nice. She sold her 1829 house to an old couple who was just moving in. That is another story.

When we bought the house, the Out Back consisted of poison ivy , wisteria and English Ivy. The husband spent the first year in long sleeves and rubber gloves hand digging the unwanted weeds out. Through old time neighbors, we learned that the house originally had an outhouse. So I had one built and put in the same spot. It wasn't  real, It was for storage of lawn and garden equipment. But it would really catch people off guard when they turned a corner and saw it for the first time.

In the end, it got away from me.  What started with me passionately  tending alone ended with two experienced gardeners who came weekly and me everyday of course. It is funny to me that of all the beautiful and rare roses we had in the collection, I miss the larkspur and poppies the most. The plants that resowed themselves  and fed the birds. They came up differently every year; hundreds of them. So many that I would have to cull. It was a new garden every year. Spring was truly glorious.
We called the little bungalow Frogview Cottage. But actually, my husband and I are Frogview Cottage. The town doctor's wife who were our neighbors across the street emailed me a couple of weeks ago and said we were missed. That's nice.


  1. What a beautiful, glorious home - I absolutely love it. It's very obvious how much care, thought, and creativity you put into it. And adding the outhouse was a clever idea. Thanks for sharing the photos.

    When I lived in San Angelo, TX my yard was filled with antique roses and they were wonderful. I don't know if they're the same kind you mentioned - - my knowledge of flowers is pathetically limited.

    1. I have ordered old roses from Texas. I'll bet you could grow a few cemetery roses in Tennessee.

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