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  • Writer's pictureWine & Whiskey

How I Spent the Summer

I created a secret garden from scratch. It's a secret garden because it can't be seen until you walk into it. Take a virtual tour of how I created it in the photos and the video (link down below).


When Whiskey and I start to feel discouraged by not getting as far as we we'd like on our grounds reclamation project, we look back at the photos taken over the years and are astounded at how far we've come.


A bit of back story...we were so busy with our lives, businesses, and other properties we owned that our home and property was on the back burner with barely a simmer. This shot is a good example. Our use of the back yard was to store the firewood for seasoning and to walk the dogs to do their business and to throw a frisbee to the bulldog.

Back side of the barn and the overgrown sumac circa 2014.

There was an abundance of sumac that had taken over a large chunk of the area. In addition, our "burn pile" kept getting bigger and bigger because we could never get it burned completely to the ground.

The back yard overgrown; the barn was not visible circa 2014.

Trees, sumac, and Japanese knotweed took over much of the side and back yards.

Side yard circa 2014.

Looking toward the way backyard.


In 2020 we sold properties and freed up our lives from the maintenance and management associated with them and we brought our property to the front burner. Before anything pretty could happen clearing needed to be done first.

November 2022 - Not the prettiest time of the year.

September - November 2021, we had all of the vegetation on the granite ledge sprayed with herbicide and then cut to the ground. What was left was a gnarly abundance of stumps and roots. Summer of 2022 was spent clearing out the mess and unearthing the ledge.


Now that most of the destruction is complete, we begin rebuilding to create an herb garden including decorative plants. Our back yard had so many trees that there was no area that could get eight hours of sunlight, now we do making it possible to grow herbs.


We could have hired a crew to do all of the work, but the pandemic created several issues that cause delays, and we didn't want to wait. And honestly, we wanted to put the energy into the property.


I, Wine, cut back on client work after the pandemic. I took it as an opportunity, because there wasn’t much work anyway in the months of the height of the pandemic. Once I got used to that, I really liked it. After experiencing the slower work pace and time to focus on our own home, I decided to practice semi-retirement and become a gardener.


Summer 2023 was spent creating a new landscape area. Watch the video (YouTube link down below) to see the transformation of the granite ledge overgrowth. I could write stuff about the process, but I say it all in the video. The work spanned from May through August. June and July were literal washouts (see it in the video below), so I didn't get much accomplished during that time. The lack of sunlight stunted the growth of the new plantings.


Physically creating the new landscape and garden was uplifting and rewarding. I felt like I accomplished something. It kept my body moving, I was in the sun for hours (when it was shining), and I learned about plants. There are a few things I don't like about gardening: dirt under my nails, dirty feet (because I wear sandals), and the sweat that drips in my eyes and on my glasses.


Since I was determined to do all of the work myself, I had to come up with ways to move heavy stuff. I used the plastic sled that was once used to drag my beloved Homer around. It is the best tool to move large rocks, a pile of small rocks, and bags of crushed stone.


I used only hand tools for all of the work. An old four tine rake and hoe were the best tools; I use the little black rake to spread the mulch. I love these tools.


Bell was a constant companion while I worked. She is a delight to be with even when she is covered in dirt; she loves dirt.


Here is a long (27 minute) video of the process. It is a bit repetitive at times, but it conveys my thought process and the physical process.



Gallery of the work in no particular order. Some shots of the overgrowth before reclaiming the area are at the end of the photo gallery.



Big shout out to Kate Heckle, garden designer and garden shop owner of Sias Farm, in Ossipee. I got so lucky that when I arrived with my list Kate was there and she helped me a lot. All of the staff at Sias Farm are so helpful, friendly, and enthusiastic. It is greatly appreciated by me a novice gardener.


Lowe's is my preferred place to buy mulch and stone, and some plants. They typically carry popular plants and not many options for different herbs, medicinal, or berry bushes.





I purchased the first round of herbs from Spider Web Gardens in Tuftonboro. They are a large garden center with multiple greenhouses, and one needs to be self-sufficient because there is little staff and a lot of property.



Other shots from around our grounds. It's starting to look like something. 😊

Next year we will create a vegetable garden (no tomatoes - I don't want to fight with the hornworm). I have a cousin in Pennsylvania that is a vegetable gardener extraordinaire, and she is an inspiration. She has already encouraged me to grow garlic, I'll give it another try; my first attempt failed. My thoughts are garlic, onions, cabbage, broccoli, and pumpkin. If anyone has advice on starting a veggie garden from scratch, please reach out.


Thanks for reading and watching the videos. The sun is shining, I should go out and water all of my plants. 😁

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Wine & Whiskey
Wine & Whiskey
Aug 25, 2023

Thank you so much! I appreciate you making the effort to comment. The video is long, watch it when you have nothing else to do. 😁

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navymom154
Aug 25, 2023

While I haven't been able to watch the video yet I so admire your hard work creating this beautiful space. Most of all I admire your vision!❤️

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