Lakeside Shady Living!
After buying the ¾ acre lakefront property, Arleigh was discussing with the former owner possible additional plantings and couldn’t wait to start landscaping. The previous owner’s response? “Oh…Nothin’ll grow here.” They were nearly right. Underneath the very thin layer of top soil was nearly all sand and a few deposits of clay. The grade of the property led to the lake assisting in erosion by draining precipitation off very quickly. Thus, 30 years ago the gardens began with a clean slate. After moving in and waiting out the winter, Spring 1990 revealed a number of mature trees and a total of eight shrubs. Each planted in the wrong lighting conditions.
Arleigh now had the question of where to begin? This became more problematic because unlike other residential lots, lake lots have 2 or more “front” yards. Being on a pie shaped lot almost all of the property is publicly seen, either from the lake or the street. It all needed to be pretty!
Years later after many, many yards of organic matter added to the property, the thousands of lovelies Arleigh has planted flourish. Following the rule of “Right Plant, Right Place”, she is able to move a plant (she loves to move plants as opposed to her furniture) until it enjoys a proper location. Arleigh is blessed with sun, shade, wet, dry, and everything in-between for landscape environments. The perfect growing conditions can be found on the property.
While the house contains many angles with its triangular pop-outs and trapezoidal windows, by contrast the yard and gardens are full of softly inviting curves and stone walls to complement the gently, and at times steeply, rolling terrain. A person can relax walking in the yard and garden; wandering through its many winding walkways—cobblestone stamped concrete, some wood chips or rubble walks and more. With all of the many paths it is hard to tell where to begin when touring the gardens. Wandering is the best way to get through this non-linear property.
Arleigh’s favorite areas are the shade beds with over 1100 hostas and over 750 varieties. The east side shade gardens are hidden, both to the lake’s boaters passing by, and the walkers strolling down the street. Yet it is her favorite area on the property. There is a plethora of shade companion plants growing among the hundreds of varieties of hosta—Coral bells, Tiarellas, Doll’s Eye Actea, Dogwood, Magnolia, Carolina Spice Bush, and conifers to name a few.
The west side of the house has several large beds including a tear-shaped bed with a wonderful weeping Camperdown Elm that glows lime-green each May. There are raised beds in this area for growing fresh vegetables and herbs. As a child, Arleigh was raised with eating, canning, and freezing fresh veggies and brought that with her to this home. Elevating the beds is new and allows her to control how much she wants to share with the rabbits.
The west side also contains shade gardens just beyond the raised beds. There is a large concrete patio from which a panorama of the lake and wilderness across the water can be seen, complete with waterfowl, lily pads, and even deer frolicking in the early morning light. The deer seem to love it on the far side of the lake, rather than wandering over to visit her gardens for a buffet.
Neighbors throughout the years have watched Arleigh expand the garden beds, while drastically shrinking lawn areas. They have been known to ask if there will be any grass left. Arleigh’s response is, “The lawn is just a means to get to the gardens to discover what’s new to see at any given time”. She has made a decision that no more new beds will be created and to just add to the existing ones. She only has so much time in the day.
Since 2017, there has been a lot of flooding and water level changes causing the gardens on the lakeshore to change drastically. There is still a large rain garden along a rebuilt rock wall which collects the house roof water and helps prevent more eroding of the lower area. She plans on rebuilding many of the rock walls and returning garden plants to the shoreline as time permits. So make sure to visit again.