Tag Archives: garden arbor

After: The Arbor as a Blank Canvas

I knew this would happen when spring came. After three months of conscientious blogging twice a week, the sun came out. The plants started pleading, “Come! Come trim back our winter coats so our new shoots and buds can breathe!” The compost bins buzzed with the sound of 2 wheelbarrows full of the finished stuff (my best winter yet – I’m so pleased). And, the long awaited fence and arbor arrived in multiple pieces. I had work to do. Outside. How could I possibly find the time to blog?

Thanks to a few of you who commented on last week’s post with phrases like, “great start, but where’s the finished product?” I’ve been shamed into sitting inside at my computer to share the fruits of last week’s labor.

The 9 post holes were a pain because whoever built my stone house tossed all the leftover pieces of rock into my back yard. (See last week’s post for my ingenious plan on recruiting workers. Sylvana commented that I was a regular Tom Sawyer. Highest praise, to be sure). Then came the leveling. Wow. Who knew that a grade of 4 inches over 10 feet would wreak such havoc on the amateur fence installer? It took longer than it should have, but by Saturday afternoon, we had all the big pieces in. It was all but finished.

Then came the two 15 inch sections that needed mitering on one side. While I impressed the fence supplier with my knowledge of mitering (meaning, I knew the definition of mitering), I must admit that I fell short on the execution. If I had just been willing to buy a power miter saw, I would have saved myself much agony and many many hours. But – I would have used up the $95 (and more) that I saved by hauling the supplies myself. That money is for roses, darn it, not power tools. So I made do with the old miter box and hand saw. It was not pretty. You can see how many tries it took me to get it right.

I am showing you the following picture only because I’m having a rare moment of openness and vulnerability. My mantra while attempting this advanced (?) carpentry technique was this: “No one will ever look closely. No one will ever look closely.” And now, here I am, inviting you to look closely. I guess I must be proud.

Now for the unveiling.

I really do feel as if I have just stretched and prepped a canvas.  The bed to the left of the arbor will be the 10-year-old’s herb garden. She’s already begging to dig up the spent crocuses that take up about 5 square inches. I’m thinking the arbor will carry a Sombreuil climbing rose per Edith’s suggestion. And maybe a bright purple clematis on the other side. Day lilies around the fence on the right? They’re kind of pretty and green this time of year, with the promise of great color in a few months. Shrub roses, yarrow, and other assorted lovelies in the beds between the fence and the patio.

Won’t you come for dinner?

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The Arbor has Arrived: Trading Gold for Hardscape

A few months ago, my mom asked me if I had any gold jewelry I didn’t want or never wore. With gold prices at an all time high, she suggested I cash in on these nuggets. Well, I did it, and today I spent my proceeds on a long-desired garden arbor. Hurrah! Thanks to all of you who encouraged me after my post on whether to spend this money on the arbor or a flat screen tv. You voted unanimously in favor of the arbor.

I’m not sure why I do things the way I do. I could have hired a nice young fencing contractor to order, pick-up and install my new garden arbor and the 60 feet of accompanying fence. I could at least have arranged for the fence manufacturer to deliver all the supplies to my curbside. But no. I insist on shopping all the fence suppliers in the Delaware Valley, visiting them to look at and feel the product, arranging to borrow a friend’s pickup truck, collecting the supplies myself, and then trying to install it all. This is how I do things. Why oh why?

The main reason is that I’m cheap. The quote for installed fence and arbor was double what I paid. The delivery charge of $95 felt too steep. Think of how many plants you can buy for $95! Second, I like to try new things. Installing a wooden fence doesn’t LOOK that hard – how will I know whether I’m able to do it or not unless I give it a shot? Finally, I  do like to brag. I imagine evenings sitting on my patio with friends, admiring the clematis or climbing rose smothering my arbor, being able to say – yeah, I installed that. And planted all the plants you’re admiring.

Fortunately for me, my dear friends Kevin and Iris own a pickup truck and are generous to share it with me. (This is not the first hair-brained scheme they’ve supported by lending me transportation). So – the garden arbor has arrived. Within an hour, it was assembled and in place. I was on a roll. I started digging post holes. I had nine to dig – I figured I could knock them all out in a couple of hours. How could I forget my stony soil or the pear tree that used to inhabit the very spot of the second post hole? How could I possibly think I’d be able to dig these holes easily?

Again, fortunately for me, my 10-year-old daughter and her friend arrived just as I was about to give in to exhaustion. Give two bored fourth grade girls shovels, rocks to excavate, and an excuse to get seriously dirty and you’ve got some good workers. They hacked at roots with pruners. They dug with spades. They dug with trowels. They dug with their bare hands.

In an hour, they had hit 24″ on three holes. And had one boulder to brag about.

It’s a work in progress. But I look out my kitchen window and see, in real life, the picture that has been in my head for the last three years. I pour over the Jackson Perkins catalog and actually get my climbing rose order ready. I will have jackmanii clematis, not just dream of it. The gold that had been sitting idly in my chest of drawers will now make me very happy. Every day.

p.s. I don’t really have a plan about what to plant on the arbor. What do you think? Full sun, facing south west. Zone 6b.

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