Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cottage Garden Makeover.....Before and After.

When we bought the cottage 2 1/2 years ago,  it had been used primarily as a rental.  Other than very weedy grass and some cedar trees, there was nothing in the garden at all. 
This is how it looked in the real estate listing.  Just some lawn, which was completely dead when we viewed it, and a lovely large porch with some very odd posts????.  The whole deck is composite, as are the railings and the siding is vinyl.  I wanted to make it less "plastic" and more in keeping with the area.
We overlook a marina which is on Georgian Bay.....there are amazing cliffs all around and the area is famous for it's flagstone.
It is a very rocky area.  I wanted something indigenous to the area and something that would keep the weeds under control.  It also had to create a sitting area where we could add some greenery to give us some privacy as we face the marina and there is also a public footpath between us and the lake.
The contractor really wanted me to do interlocking, but that seemed far too urban and far too likely to get full of weeds in the cracks.  He was very much for doing a uniform rectangular patio. I went to his stone yard and saw this gorgeous, massive flagstone and knew this was it. In the end I had to provide him with drawings that I did, as he couldn't visualise what I wanted. Aparently it is hard to get these large pieces of flagstone, but he managed to get enough from the local quarry.
We created a random patio from the flagstone, leaving gravel between the cracks to allow the septic bed to breath (the patio covers part of the field).   We also left a gap on the one side to add a small garden to break up the mass of stone. My Gracie Girl follows me everywhere and is also deaf, so she doesn't hear me calling her to get out of the picture.
We used large armour stone right in front of the porch to give it a looser, more haphazard appearance.  We removed the plastic white trellis covering the underside of the porch and used cedar boards instead.
I really wanted it to look like we had cleared the area and the stone was an existing element....
I planted some low lying shrubby plants such as ornamental grasses which remain wispy but give some privacy.
I made this little path for Mooch because he used to walk right through the garden to get to the grassy bit.  The plantings had to be rugged as this area gets really harsh winters....
We left a bit of grass for Gracie....it actually is more of a weed mix.  Much to our neighbors chagrin, we refused to use roundup in our yard.  They have a golf green lawn....as least they did, there is now a pesticide and herbicide ban in Ontario.........
With the exeption of a couple of Canadian Hemlock trees, all of the plantings came from my city garden.  I split all of my perennials and took them to the cottage.
Here is the after........(that unused satellite dish is going to go).  The ruls is, whenever you go to the lake you have to bring back a stone for the garden.....
And here was the before.............


  1. CHANIA....WOW!
    I am rendered speechless! Well not really.
    I hate all that plastic decking, although, I understand maintenance free....oh boy do I ever!!

    But the flagstone is fabulous...I just wanna go sleep at your cottage, wake up at your cottage, sit and drink drinks, and watch boats....get up and have a swim....You sure made it look like everybody's dream....inside and out!

    Plus I like the gravel! Your seating, everything, it is all so nicely thought out and put together!!!! SMASHING!

  2. Hi Chania! WOW!!! It is everything that a coastal cottage should be like! You really outdid yourselves...it looks downright dreamy there. Your vision of how the stones should look really is perfect - it's very natural looking but very well put together. I don't know that I would leave that front porch!
    Really, it's spectacular!
    Sarah :)

  3. It looks great Chania! I love it all - the porch, the flagstones, the plants and the lack of pesticides!

    ~ Tracy

  4. Chania I LOVE it....The porch looks so inviting & what a STUNNING view of the marina you have....I'd love to sit up there with a coffee early in the morning & watch the day begin....And end for that matter :o) !!

    The huge flagstones are awesome & have done a brilliant job of defining your space from the footpath running close by & the shrubs you've used, while low create privacy in an unobtrusive way.


    Tamarah :o)

  5. Hi Chania,
    Love your garden. I really like the natural look you have achieved with the flagstone.

    Second Hand Chicks

  6. Chania, your cottage looks PERFECT!!! You have done such a fabulous job with the garden, I love the way you have made it look so natural! Your views are amazing!! Fabulous job and I love that everyone who goes to the lack has to bring back a stone for the cottage:) ~ Tina xx

  7. Your cottage is just lovely Chania! I am really wishing I could be lazing back on your gorgeous flagstone patio sipping a glass of wine reading a great book or just kicking back enjoying the view! You have created a beautiful spot! xx

  8. Hello Chania, what a lucky girl you are to have such a beautiful place like this.
    Nice job with the garden and how beautiful is the view you have! I'm sure you enjoy a lot your Cottage!
    Have a sunny and warm week!
    Li :-)

  9. WOW - your home takes my breath away! The beachy location, the lovely new garden, the stripey awning.....pure perfection! Love it, you've done an amazing job, and I'm positively green with envy! K xx

  10. It's beautiful Chania - the paving and the garden look like they were always meant to be there. I have never heard of plastic decking before...this is a new phenomenon for me. And why is there a ban on herbicide and insecticides where you live?

  11. Wow, it's amazing!! What a stunnig spot and your have made it even more beautiful. I could sit there all day!!

  12. Great job Chania. The flagstones look like they have always been there.

  13. Oh I love it! What a gorgeous house you have, and in such a beautiful spot.

  14. Hi Chania,
    About the color for the cabinets, I'm still no sure. I think I'll go with white, since my kitchen is not big and I need more light in there. But on my next post I'll show it and ask for some opinions. I saw on a magazine a kitchen painted in white (the top cabinets) and cheznut on the bottom. It look pretty cool, you know?
    I know it's a tough decision, but I'll check it out yours. I saw that Home Depot now has Martha S. paints and it might be very good.
    I'll try to post in the beggining of the week about the kitchen.
    Hope you are enjoying summer down the Gerogian Bay. What a beautiful place...
    Cheers, Li

  15. Hi Chania! Wow, what a difference??? It doesn't even look like the same house!!! I just love the flagstone....just beautiful!
    Health and happiness to you and yours,

  16. Chania, your garden is fab - I also think your lovley Gracie Girl adds to the picture.

  17. Hi Chania, thanks for stopping by my blog today. I just wanted to come by and say "Hello". I've added you to my Reader and shall look forward to reading more of your adventures.

    This post is fabulous. What a beautiful home you have. It is almost like you have stepped into my mind and created my dream home. You have done a fabulous job with it and I've no doubt it will be a source of much fun, relaxation and adventure.

    MD xx

  18. Really, really beautiful, I think you achieved what you were after, didn't you. It looks like you cleared out a rock strewn place to sit and enjoy the sun. Very organic looking. I have a pot of ornamental grass that a neighbor gave me and I'm trying to decide what to do with it. I want it in my new patio area, I really like where yours is. Wonderful, love it!

  19. Chania - what a charmed life! You have put soul into your cottage by the sea - it is precious - I love it!

    I AM IN LOVE WITH your vintage poppy table cloth !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tell your friend she has quirky and cool taste. I love that.

    I really do love checking in to see what fabulous things you have been up to.

    Tracey at Velvetine Lily x o

  20. Sigh. Your cottage is so dreamy. Sure, I know it's a lot of work putting it together and getting it just the way you want it, but it's fun work. I really respect that you kept with what was more native landscape. It looks gorgeous. Definitely, no need for satellite TV in that home! Can't wait to read about the wonderful gatherings you're sure to have in this home.

  21. I LOVE your garden!!
    So beautiful!!
    I love those chairs too!!
    I love all of your photographs!!
    Thank you so much for sharing your link!
    I hope you are having a great day!!


I love to read each and every comment and are thrilled that you take the time to send one. Thank you so much. Chania