Welcome to My Garden at Innisfree

It seems right that every home with wonderful interior spaces should be surrounded by equally stunning gardens, doesn’t it? At my lake cottage, I’ve been hard at work on the inside stuff. But, unfortunately, I am an abject failure when it comes to gardening. Once, I made a feeble attempt to bring the courtyard at my Atchison home to life, only to be told by dear friends that the plants I’d been cultivating were poison ivy. Oops!

Apparently once you have picked the right shrubs, perennials and annuals for your garden, then put them in the spots that are not too sunny or too shady for them, you have to also water them regularly. Who knew? Needless to say, my plant kill rate was embarrassingly high until my friends Gloria and Lynda nudged me aside and made my courtyard a paradise, as you can tell from the photo above.

So when it came time to put in the garden at our lake cottage, I didn’t even pretend to know what I was doing. It was time to bring in the pros. I knew what I wanted: A garden that was lush and mature, full of the romantic, old fashioned flowers I loved in my dad’s garden as a kid.

While we didn’t raze the existing house, we did do extensive renovations, keeping only a few choice features, like the stone fireplaces in the living room and study. Even though everything else in the house was new, I wanted it to all look old, full of charm, like it had been a family cottage that had been passed down one generation to the next. That went for the garden, too.

I learned the hard way that to get more mature trees, shrubs and perennials, you have to open your wallet. That hurt. A lot. But I considered it a wise investment in my home’s exterior design. As the trucks pulled up and the landscape started filling in, I was dazzled.

Like most of the houses on our street, our home sits down below the street level, with a backwards sloping lot that leads down to the lake. We decided to turn the small front yard into a patio, covering it in flagstones that have an aged patina and edging the space with raised gardens filled with flowers.

Our quiet neighborhood doesn’t see a lot of car traffic, but in the evenings, the lane is crowded with people out walking their dogs or strolling. Dan and I will sit out front on lovely evenings and catch up with our neighbors.

The flagstone steps that meander down from the street to our patio are a bit steep and can be slick when wet, so instead of using a generic utilitarian hand rail, I decided to find one that was a piece of art. I love our quirky banister, which looks like it was fashioned out of sprouting saplings.

I’m a fan of garden states when they are used judiciously, one or two nestled in among the plants. This sweet birdbath sits next to the banister, adding a bit of whimsy to the scene.

I could not tell you the names of almost any of the plants in my garden. Honestly. I found a garden design team I trusted, told them my vision, then got out of their way. But I know this one! We planted tulips all around the house, in big showy masses. They are one of the most audaciously happy flowers I’ve ever seen, and I can’t get enough of them.

With a garden to nose around in, a lake to swim in and a wide sunny lawn to nap in, Lyric is pretty happy with the outdoor spaces at Innisfree, too!


Next Week … When my cousin Anne downsized, she bought a dated, lackluster home she could work renno magic on. I can’t wait to show you her newly remodeled kitchen and dining room.