OUTSIDE 487. The yard, and the house I moved into, in 1998, had absolutely nothing but POTENTIAL, and as a decorator, i went to work on the inside; something we are still at today - Yes, houses may be money pits, but there is much to be said for home ownership, and being able to do whatever you can reasonably afford, when it becomes affordable. With a long-time, 3 season porch, being renovated into an all-season room, we wanted a leaner look for the interior, and, likewise, outside. From the 1st photo, to the 4th, you can see much was dug up, and then given away, where possible, or left in IKEA bags, through this crazy weather (01/17), off in a corner somewhere. (Note: it's April 4th, and some of those abandoned plants are showing new growth.) 35-40% of the garden's plantings, including several large shrubs, were removed. It just felt better, and that made ME feel better: it will be a lot less work, and there are plentiful negative spaces, the likes of which I have learned to appreciate immensely: Less IS more!!!
Years back, switching banks and mortgages, the assessor mentioned he'd never done a garden like ours. Left alone, he went on his way, but 15 minutes in, he returned, with the survey and asked, "is the garage still there?". Let's just say he learned quite a lesson that day, as I laughingly explained it was what was holding up the wall of green on the south, and west, side of the back garden. That was the 1st time I realized I had far, far too many plants, and I've been editing since, but not to this degree: This is a HUGE change.
I have loved every version of our garden, and almost all the plants that have come and gone, but the more I learn about plants, our changing climate, and the nuances of our own little, botanical world, I recognize not all plants, or the bazillion ideas, are feasible any longer. The neighboring Maples I tearfully pleaded for, which were then sawn in half, survived and 20 years later, are large trees. We have had full sun, then full shade, as they matured, and now, with bi-annual pruning, there is a pleasing mix of both sun and shade, and myriad micro-climates which are far too complicated for me to explain, even if I thought I could. The meteorologists are wrong more often than not, it's a coin toss as to what the next season, let alone coming year, will present: Things have changed and we need to do likewise.
Gardening is like growing up. As teens, convinced we know it all, we do, and dress as it suits us. As young adults, we find money doesn't grow on trees, and working is how you get, and keep stuff. Then, getting older, the stuff we have isn't "us", the we, we are now, and we continue working to afford other stuff. Now, as we enter the 55+ era, our furniture isn't comfortable anymore, the wall colors are all wrong, our rooms poorly proportioned, and the windows need replacing, again. All this happens in our gardens, particularly with respect to constant change. Whether we, or it, changes, we want something different, and perhaps, now, it's because our bodies are suggesting we need to take things easier. Regardless, what once worked, and was perfect, isn't anymore, and something has to be done. The love affair at 487 isn't over; it's pretty much an old friend that has grown older with us, and it's wonderful.
INSIDE THE HOUSE - always put function first (this goes for the outside, too). If the space doesn't work for you, doesn't actually do a JOB, then you need to figure out a way to make it do what you need. It's doable; it's just a process, and sometimes that involves a lot of change, which some of us aren't comfortable with. Think about negative space in a positive way - the concept may just grow on you, like a wonderfully comfortable pair of shoes you could barely walk in, when new, and now your feet love them.