Spring Has Sprung…?

Hard to tell really.  We had some very warm days in early April but last weekend the temperatures were back in the 30’s!  The OWE festival is only two weeks away.  Our neighborhood will be filled with  visitors.  We had only been in the house for a week before last years festival.  Our yard was a neglected overgrown mess of mostly weeds.  We have made some progress but most of our attention has been inside the house.  Being on a high foot traffic corner and on the parade route, we now know that there will be a lot of people walking past and looking at our house.  I haven’t gotten used to people walking by and taking pictures.  It happens more often than you would think. During festival it will happen a lot more.  This weekend we need to do what we can to give the outside of the house some love and attention.


Ideally, we would put the original boxwood hedge back.  This picture must be pre-1910 as that is the time that the front portico was enclosed.  I do like the shrubs at the front of the house.  Now that area is mostly weeds and a few hosta, lily of the valley, ferns and peonies of some previous garden design. All of these are better suited for a shady location and this is the south facing side of the house.  We have removed most of the weeds.  The thistle has proved more of a challenge and I left the plantings that were there because I didn’t have time to really do anything different.

When we visit the garden store this weekend, I will have to decide if I want to have mostly flowers out here or shrubs.  I am slightly leaning towards shrubs as that was what was originally here but this is a great sunny bed and I would  love to have some color here.  Maybe hydrangeas, shrub roses and more peonies would satisfy both options.  Youngest daughter wants a new forsythia and I want to find a lilac that will bloom all summer.

I was also thinking the concrete spouts that come out would be a great place to put window boxes.  They were the drainage system for the porch before it was enclosed and now are merely “decorative.”

At the front door we need to replace our concrete lions.  I am not sure when they first took up residence but they fit the character of the home and ours have seen better days.  Any attempt to reposition them at this point will probably result in their complete collapse.


Maybe we need to find lions on a slightly larger scale!

Under the bay window/Juliet balcony there really isn’t much of anything to salvage.  There are some nice iris but this isn’t really the right place for them either.


Along the west side of the house that I guess is the technically the front (although the front door is on the south side) we removed the overgrown shrubs that completely shadowed the “sun room.”  We are left with stumps and a clean slate.


The lawn is mostly weeds and very little grass.  We thought about applying weed and feed but I worry that we won’t have anything left if we kill the weeds.  This weekend won’t be the time to worry out it but we will need to consider how to return the lawn to something that is grass and not weeds cut short to make the yard look green!


The large yard we call the side yard is in need of transformation in a big way.  Ideally, we would fence it in in order to have it join the small enclosed back yard and become a useable space for us.  Matt did plant all the hosta I brought from the last house in what was a rock garden there.  it was just the rocks and weeds when we arrived.  The hosta are very happy and have filled in nicely.  If we are keeping this feature I would like to add some more shade lovers-coral bells, foxglove, bluebells and Lenten rose.  All things I had in my shade garden before and really like.


This yard has all the sidewalk pieces we got when the road was redone.  We need to get them laid out before someone steals them again.  Even if they aren’t in their final location, we should lay it out and make it look nice before the festival.  People tend to walk through the yard to cut off the corner.  I found it incredibly rude last year but since it looked like it is just an empty lot I can understand.  I am hopeful we can clean it up and have some outdoor furniture out here this year and prevent some of that.


messy underbrush on the corner


Sidewalk pieces still waiting to be laid out


More sidewalk sections


Dead trees that need removed


The sidewalk edge. A little random and in need of a plan. Or at least a fence!

I know we won’t get started on the fence yet but we should be able to make some progress on the functionality and appearance of the yard.  It is a lot more pressure when this is the view across the street:


Time to rip off the band-aid.


The view out the window clearly confirms that spring has arrived!



Well, time to rip off the plastic really.  Some of our windows have fairly decent storm windows while others are missing or in such bad shape that you might as well leave the window open.  In the master, the pull down shades would blow into the room about 5-6 inches whenever it was windy outside.  The living room also had a couple of really bad drafts particularly behind the couch.  In early December I got tired of freezing and got some plastic window insulator kits.  It made a big difference.  In the master it was tricky to figure out how to get the plastic up and I ended up sealing the blinds behind the plastic.  It feels like winter is behind us so I went ahead and removed the plastic.  The tape did take some of the paint off on the master windows but they needed scraping and painting anyway so I wasn’t too surprised.

In the fall, youngest daughter and I were at the big box store (yes, I am sure that is not news.)  There was a woman looking at plastic window film that you can apply to give your windows the look of stained glass.  We commented that we were lucky to have actual stained glass windows at our house.  When we got home I started to think that the stained glass in the living room looked awfully similar to the stick on film at the store.  Surely my historic mansion has ACTUAL stained glass in the living room!  It was one of the things I really liked when we viewed the house.  I had always been intrigued as to why the front window and the bay were the only living room windows with stained glass transoms.  Mr. Tillinghast had a great eye for detail and symmetry.  It seemed odd to me that all the living room windows were not the same.  Perhaps the stained glass transoms were not original and added by another owner.  Turns out that was true.  The stained glass was just plastic from the big box store! Imagine my disappointment…

I kept them up all winter but when I took down the winter insulating I decided it was time to get rid of the “stained glass” as well.

Now all the living room transoms match.  I feel good because we have restored the windows back to their original appearance.  Really, that is my story.  It is disappointing to realize there isn’t stained glass in the living room but I have to admit they look better all matched.  I am sure it won’t be the last surprise or disappointment we deal with.  Just another adventure in owning this historic home.