With the interior of the cottage basically finished, it became time to shift my efforts to the exterior, in particular the new landscaping and yard. If you remember, the front of the cottage was completely overgrown with Red Tip Photinias and the backyard, well, was just COMPLETELY overgrown with ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Years of neglect allowed for all kinds of bulbs, poison ivy and other shrubbery to absolutely take over. In a nutshell, EVERYTHING, except a beautiful tulip tree, one dogwood and a few other smaller trees in the back corner, was essentially wiped out and I was presented with a blank slate.
As with the rest of the restoration, I was adamant everything stay as close to “period” as possible. Meaning, I didn’t want any vegetation flanking the cottage that would not have been native to Louisiana in 1926 (the year the cottage was built).
After spending hours researching, and talking with several landscaping experts, I settled on a design rich in both texture and color. Both features were extremely important to me. The landscaping was the crowning glory for the cottage and it was definitely one aspect I did not want to get wrong.
Across the front porch of the cottage, I chose Dwarf Burford Hollies. One glance at them at a local nursery and I was sold! The deep green leaves and bright, red winter berries provide the perfect pop of color against the freshly painted, white siding. Flanking both sides of the walkway, I chose Yuletide Sasanqua Camellias. Both ends of the front porch are bordered with deep pink Crepe Myrtles, Dwarf Gardenias and Variegated Liriope.
Along the north side of the cottage and driveway area, I knew I again wanted pops of color but also lots of fragrance to greet me when I arrived home. Behind the Crepe Myrtle, the north side wall starts with bright yellow Ligustrum and Dwarf Gardenias separated by a small flagstone walkway that provides access to the front porch. Then, one of the most southern plants of all, Hydrangeas, flow beneath my dining room and kitchen windows. They are supposed to be pink, but who knew the color could change based on the soil?! (Apparently this is a well-known fact I wasn’t aware of.) We’ll see what happens in the spring! Nearing the backporch area, the bed comes to a point, so I chose to fill a small area with Society Garlic that will bloom bright purple in the spring. There is a tinge of a “garlic-y” odor, but it only compels me to cook!
Moving around to the backporch (that was newly added to the cottage), Dwarf Yaupon Hollies line the brick border. Near the new bedswing (created by Ali’s Creations in Calhoun, La), I knew, again, I wanted lots of fragrance. So there are two Sweet Olives, Dwarf Gardenias and more Society Garlic.
Along the south side of the cottage, you’ll see a line of pink Knockout Roses (yes, Knockouts are a relatively new hybrid, but roses were definitely a part of a 1926 landscape) that are sure to be showstoppers when traveling north up McDonald Street.
You may remember, I also had Bolin Construction erect a new garage in the backyard area. So of course, it needed its own “mini-bed” too! Keeping consistent with the rest of the landscaping, I included another Sweet Olive, Sasanqua Camellias, Variegated Liriope and Dianthus. In addition, there are a few pads of flagstone leading to the entrance of the craft room.
Then, to REALLY put on a show, approximately 36 flats of Pansies and Dianthus line all the beds and Variegated Liriope is sprinkled throughout. To top everything off, about 13 pallets of “magic” St. Augustine grass were installed to give me an instantly GREEN yard just as winter is beginning!
As I watched this process unfold (with gracious thanks to Robert Jones, of Four Seasons Landscaping of Minden), my heart beamed. With every square of grass placed, every hole dug and each bundle of pine straw carefully positioned, this little cottage became closer and closer to the beauty she once was. When the landscaping was completed and I stepped across to Academy Park for a panoramic view, I could hardly believe this was the same cottage I spotted on that Christmas drive 3 years ago. I was overwhelmed to say the least. I “saw” THIS cottage when I first drove by, underneath all the overgrowth and neglect. I saw the potential and KNEW what could be. And after all the prayer circles (mine and others), this little cottage is complete! But the journey is just beginning….
Spring will be here before we know it and it will be time to change out the annuals. I’ll go ahead and tell y’all, I’m a MASSIVE fan of petunias and I will MIRACLE-GRO the heck out of them to get them all bushy and big. So stay tuned for that! What are some of your favorite annuals and/or shrubs, etc. to landscape with? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
*This post first appeared in the January/February 2018 of The Minute Magazine and can be read here.