I moved into my place in the Summer of 1994 - and my one acre consisted of a few large clumps of pampas grass, six live oaks, a small (relatively speaking) southern magnolia, a fledgling water oak (which I should have cut down when I could) and a Camellia japonica 'Debutante'. There was also a lot of grass - grass that I've been slowly getting rid of ever since I moved in. During a recent visit to Virginia, I found this photograph that I had sent my parents - and I scanned it in. I think it's one of the few 'before' photographs that I have of my place.
One of the first gifts I received after moving in were three bald cypress saplings - one is shown in the image above after almost two years of growth (on the left, in front of the southern magnolia). You can also see a clump of pampas grass in the back left corner - and in front of it is a southern magnolia. Then there is me - mowing, as I always felt like I was doing back then.
Twelve years later the same corner looked like the image below. The southern magnolia is huge (it fills that corner, and has long since shaded out the pampas grass). In front of the magnolia, on the left side of the image - is what once was the bald cypress sapling. A river birch was added - it was probably only a few feet tall when it was planted. I love it in the fall, it provides a hint of fall color - and I'll take any fall color that I can get.
Then there's everything else (including, in the image below on the right, a pile of old butterfly bushes I was cutting down). Now - there's even less grass, something that I'm pretty happy about. Chaos is probably the ruling design principle - but that's okay. For the past week, there's been a screaming barn owl high up in the live oaks, and everytime I take a dog out late at night or early in the morning, it lets us know that he's out there. If you haven't heard the scream of a barn owl, well, you're missing something. After jumping off the ground and going through all of the viable alternate scenarios (e.g., a supernatural being has taken up residence in the live oaks and wants me to leave) - you feel pretty lucky to have such a noble visitor in the garden. This morning, after he screamed (and I jumped) - I saw him fly off. He's probably back tonight, sitting in a live oak, as I type this.
~Front Yard, Autumn 2008~