Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back from a 'workcation' at Bredablick...

A well-needed break from my frenetic garden projects at Bredablick....
 
Everyone has probably heard about 'staycations', the type of holidays where you stay put instead of spending your well-earned holiday on a far-away beach or a trendy city destination. But what do you call it when you fly half around the world, in order to cut back loads of unruly saplings, furiously clean up weeds, and prune back shrubs (in addition to cleaning up & mending your house after some badly behaved rental guests...)? Maybe 'workcation' could be the right world, if it just didn't sound so ugly.
 
Anyway, we are back in Singapore, after four weeks of hard work, and hard play - and as you can guess, I'm still quite exhausted, even if I don't know from which of them the most. We started our tour with a couple of days in Paris (I had almost forgotten how much I love good old Europe), then the rest of the family flew over to Seattle, and I directly to Stockholm to take care of our house and garden (and later also to Turku, my old hometown for a couple of days, but that's another story).
 

The flowerbed by the entrance - with a surprising amount of survivors, from several peonies (they really can take a beating...) to hostas, boxwood balls (now hidden under the perennials) and other toughies...

A Japanese anemone and a bugbane (Actaea racemosa "Brunette") saying hello to me - sadly, I won't be there enjoying the amazing scent of the Brunette this year either...
 
I thought I would just take it over from the last people renting, little did I guess they had had some very eccentric ideas about how to hang curtains (drill tens of holes into the ceilings, and preferably try several times so that you really get it "right"...), try their skills with electrical installations (who cares if it short-circuits half the house), or knock off sinks (there's a drain in the floor for the overflowing water, you see - no problem...?). Getting professional handymen in place in the middle of July is a challenge in Scandinavia, but in the end, most things were repaired before we left. And all the anger I felt was probably good, as I made some serious progress in the garden, weeding, pruning and shoveling things back to shape.
 

Another flowerbed by the steps to the entrance; the hydrangeas had been damaged by the huge drifts of snow last winter, but were coming back with many new shoots from the base. Otherwise, the alchemillas and hostas desperately need dividing, but I didn't have time now for the huge project. At least I'll have a wheelbarrow load of plants in the future after doing so...

More of the front yard, with a huge old boxwood to the left, a couple of old oaks and a lot of lawn... Our house is on a dead-end street (on the left, not in picture) and we only have one neighbor; these two sides of the land are surrounded by a 4 meter high old lilac hedge, which will soon need cutting down for rejuvenation. In the spring, the lawn is full of porcelain scillas, crocuses, snowdrops, winter aconites, grape hyacinths and other tiny wonders that have been spreading there freely for decades. I don't think I'll ever have the energy to convert this part of the garden to much else than lawn - that would take way too much maintenance and watering, as the oaks drink up a lot. I mow what grows, and even if not perfect, the lawn rolls nicely together with the soft rounded cliffs (on the left). The only thing I've been thinking of is planting some old-fashioned peonies (my favorite...) in front of the huge rounded boxwood, towards the entrance door.

A picture taken from the 'seaside' of the house... the front meadow is also gone from all mowing, but will come back fast when I let it grow wild again. In the front left, there is an old pimpinellifolia rose that flowers only once, but spreads then its smell to the whole garden with the sea breeze. And the old oaks definitely need pruning back, the branches are hitting the roof and the façade of the house. We are probably the only people in Saltsjöbaden with an oak in the middle of the sea view...
 
 Hello Daddy Deer - a family with two kids had taken over the garden, constantly staring at us like we were some rude intruders... again, they were here first, so I need to adjust whatever I plant to them, not the other way around.
 
I was quite taken by the garden itself. I'd been thinking most of my darlings would be gone - as they say, it takes five years of neglect to erase a garden - but that wasn't the case. Even if some things had died, many of my favorite plants were still there, battling on, in some cases actually quite successfully. I felt that with some editing and some light-handed additions, we'll be back on track together as soon as I get back. And it feels like all these years - five already, and counting - my plans have simplified, and I really appreciate the site as the gorgeous patch of land it is, and don't see it as project for improvement, as I sadly did earlier. Now I  see the vanity in my plans with all those magnificent plant combinations; instead of showing off my 'creativity' and my 'gardening skills' (sad, but true...) everywhere in the garden, I now feel like I can just let it be, provide a comfortable bench and let the land and nature talk for themselves. Quite relaxing, actually, and definitely something to look forward to.

Another view from the seaside... Yes, the oak is growing directly into the house, but I can't bear the thought of taking it out as it gives such a lovely shade, no curtains needed. Under the oak there are several wild roses, and I've added some semi-wild rugosa hybrids that the deer won't eat, so the group blooms in white and shell pink tones in the early summer. The cliffs leading to the sea are full of wild lily-of-the-valleys, thousands of them growing in large drifts. And I was thinking of planting something here... how silly. On the other hand, the wooden deck (on the right side of the house in the picture) that functions as our outdoor dining area isn't a beauty exactly, so I might concentrate my efforts on "improving" it instead. Something in white would go well together with the house, but needs so much maintenance... and I would love to have a greenhouse, but the winds from the sea can be hard, and would probably be dangerous for the class panes.

View from the deck. This part of the garden dries almost completely every summer, so its usually kept as a dry meadow. The only problem is that tics love long grass; they don't thrive on anything mown, as they sit on the tops of the grass straws and prey for passing animals to attach themselves on. With two children and now a dog that is a real problem, but then, kids and dogs play everywhere and are likely to get some tics despite any preventive actions...Otherwise, lily-of-the-valleys and heathers thrive here together with wild roses and quite surprisingly given the dry soil, even wild raspberries.

Give me a power tool and I'll be happy for hours... Not really, but sometimes just basic things like blasting off five years worth of dirt from the outdoor furniture can be quite meditative.

 
This is what I mean with "providing a comfortable bench and letting the land and nature talk for themselves"... sometimes, that really is enough. I've placed a weathered bench (bought while we lived in Melbourne) on an old stone paving in the lower part of our garden, just before the high cliffs drop down to the sea (you can see the tall pines just disappearing, the tops barely showing on the right, but it is the cliffs that drop suddenly). This is a perfect spot for contemplating life in all its complexities... or for just lazy meditations. "Bredablick" is the name of our land, meaning "Wide View".
 
 

6 comments:

Jennifer said...

Lovely post. I always wanted a home with a name! Can't wait to visit yours someday!

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

And I can't wait to see you all there - it will be so much fun showing you around in Stockholm!

James Golden said...

I agree. You can "channel" Dan Pearson, who seems to take a very light hand to such landscapes. How long until you return home to stay?

danger garden said...

You're brave to rent out such a special place. I guess leaving it empty wouldn't be a great idea though. It always amazes me the things people will do to other people's property.

I love that last image!

Lisa S said...

Lovely post...and what a gorgeous home and garden! Hope to visit you there someday!

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

James, just one of maximum more years... we have loved Seattle and Singapore, all the experiences and friends we have made, but it will be time to get back. And I can't wait to get to the garden and really have time with it together. I would love to be able to catch the spirit of the place even more, just with slight brush strokes, with the surrounding nature and the thirties style house as starting points...

Danger Garden - yes, we need people there, houses don't do well when empty, especially in the freezing cold climate of Stockholm!

Lisa, we all would be so happy to get you to Bredablick! Greetings to the whole family.