things and places for homes and gardens

Would you move for the gardening possibilities?

Wednesday 3 March 2010 - Filed under General

Rereading this post, it seemed like a trick, so let me say upfront, I have not bought a new house. Carry on…

I tend to stay put. My family, going back to great-grandparents, have all lived within the space of a few miles in Northeast Portland. When I bought my first house 11 years ago, about a mile down the road from my grandparents place, I thought I was getting a fixer-upper investment, but quickly decided I would stick around, maybe forever. I don’t shop around. But I met a house that was sorely tempting. It’s in the neighborhood, a few blocks from home, and I’ve often walked by and thought it was a cute little place. It wasn’t until I saw a sale sign in the lawn that I stopped to appreciate the huge blank slate of a yard with tons of potential. And by “stopped to appreciate” I mean nose-to-the-windows, trying out the back gate (and it was open) and inspecting a stranger’s house as closely as you can without getting arrested. The house was vacant, which made the snooping seem less snoop-y.

What I remember from my house hunting days, is that there was always a central feature that stuck in my mind with the houses I really liked. In this case, I fell in love with the french doors in the private back yard , opening out onto the huge deck. Pretty from the outside, but I’m especially taken with the view from inside.

Sorry for the terrible-ness of the picture through the window, but see how you could look out those doors onto the back yard, from the living room, dining room, and kitchen? Bringing the outside in, and all that. An herb garden would go right outside the door for quick snips while cooking, obviously. It’s like this house/garden designs itself. I like the huge usable space right out the door, although I’d want to replace the wood deck with something more in keeping with a spanish courtyard feel. And then the patio would be surrounded by little white lights that would twinkle on winter nights when you couldn’t go outside. And imagine how fun it would be to fling open those doors as you walked out.

Small Garden by John Brooks
It reminds me of this picture from the book Small Garden by John Brooks. Surely life in a house like this would lead to lounging and reading, both of which I need much more of in my life.

Off the deck, there’s still a sizable back yard under the shade of a huge mature weeping willow (not in the picture, it was behind me). That structure in the back was once a detached garage, but is now a fully and nicely remodeled separate home office. Perfect for my fledgling gardening business (which I will probably talk your ear off about soon). And with an air conditioner! Not something you often get in Portland, but a definite luxury when we get those uncomfortable heat waves.

I hate having to commit to only one style of garden, so I like distinct areas that can each have their own personality. On the opposite side of the house, facing the street, is another patio, surrounded by a small rock garden. Oh the possibilities with such drainage!

Room on the front porch for a spectacular container garden – check!

How I have never noticed before, the huge sprawling front lawn, just begging to be lushly planted?

And what an honor and responsibility it would be to move in to a lot with 10 mature trees much older than most anyone still living in the neighborhood. I counted – 10 of them.

And so, for the first time in 11 years, I got the bug to move, and called the realtor and started making plans in my head, what to fix in the house I have, what plants to take with me. Sadly, I was promptly informed that it was too late. Someone else will be living out the fantasy in this place. I hope they appreciate all the wonderful things it could be, and maybe someday we chat on the street, and they ask for some gardening advice, and then they take it and then they invite me over for drinks so I can see it. Stranger things have happened.

2010-03-03  »  megan

Talkback x 9

  1. Karen
    3 March 2010 @ 5:23 pm

    Oh! Sorry it was not to be. Looks like an amazing place, although I think your house is much nicer looking. Wonder why nobody has put even any plants at all there? So strange. Maybe the blankness was too daunting? Or they were minimalists? Well, you could make the stranger thing happen by leaving a nice note and a starter plant, maybe they would hire you to design their fab new garden “rooms”! And I am so excited to hear that there may soon be more Plant Lust news. Hooray!

  2. Janet
    3 March 2010 @ 6:04 pm

    Oh Megan, what fun. I find it interesting that you live close to your roots. I have moved so many times in my life as well as my husband….Army brats/ Army career. Now we are moving one last time to a place of our choosing. Have been doing a lot of dreaming about our new gardens. Dreams are sure fun.

  3. Loree
    3 March 2010 @ 6:25 pm

    WOW…I would be seriously tempted too! How much was it? Come on…you can tell us…

    The house, the gardens, the extra space, the A/C…amazing. And of course the best feature of all those french doors. Reminds me of one of our fav houses when we were looking. There were 2 that got away and one of them had the most amazing french doors off the dining room. Of course the basement smelled like 23 cats had been living there for 40 years but I could have gotten over that.

  4. Grace
    3 March 2010 @ 9:41 pm

    Hi Megan~~ What a cool place. I bet it looks totally different when those ten trees are leafed out. Probably wouldn’t need the AC. Love the woodwork. When they invite you for drinks, take your camera, please!

  5. tina
    4 March 2010 @ 3:26 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this tour. I loved the wood floors and imagining the possibilities too. What a joy to dream of the possibilities. I do hope the new owners appreciate and do it justice. Let us know please. P.S. I think your house is pretty special too. r

  6. ricki - sprig to twig
    4 March 2010 @ 5:54 pm

    Now there is a house with PERSONALITY. I predict that the new owners will become your fast friends and gardening buddies. You will get to spend quality time enjoying the garden (which they will hire you to design, of course) and the house, plus you will not have to move.

  7. Victoria
    6 March 2010 @ 4:16 pm

    That is a great looking place.
    Yes, hubbie and I often fantasize about living somewhere else…..with a “better” house and “better” garden area. With a real view. It’s fun.

  8. Brittney
    8 March 2010 @ 11:12 am

    oh i love it. and what an unusual bungalow style for portland! Am consoling myself this very minute with the earthquake dangers of brick.

  9. Jane/MulchMaid
    8 March 2010 @ 3:03 pm

    What a great looking house and garden (potential), and what a fun trip down the lane of possibilities. I’m thinking now that you got started with the idea, you just might be more open to it in the future. Mortgage rates are super low now!