To distract myself, I figured I'd might as well post about the second garden we visited on Saturday, the giant garden on Rockcliff Road. While sweating my butt off out here and feeling the dirt grit between my sweaty toes, my strongest recollection of Rockcliff Road is that I'm pretty sure it wasn't a do-it-yourself project, and right now I would kill to be able to present my grand vision and let someone else make it happen. But until I win the lottery and/or develop superpowers, I guess I'll just have to live vicariously. And speaking of vicariously, heck, half the time I was at Rockcliff Road I wasn't sure if I was in Austin or freakin' Rivendell. Seriously:
I give up. It's gorgeous, and I could never do this myself. Someone recently mentioned that I won't ever win the lottery unless I buy a lottery ticket. Maybe I should do that.
Last spring I tried to build a pond in my yard. I gave up trying to dig such a big hole through caliche and massive tree roots, and the liner's now sitting in my garage. I feel it mocking me from walls away.
Anyway, here's the view from the bottom pond looking up towards the house. It's steeper than it looks.
Here's the view from the bottom pond looking down, quite a drop. Clearly, man won the man versus nature battle here.
Here's my favorite thing about the entire place, the grotto. I've gotta confess that I'm a sucker for both grottos and follies. I have an entire folder full of pictures on my hard drive. Even better, I had no idea there was going to be a grotto here-- I'd just heard about the ponds.
I loved the "floating" stones and the bench that runs along the back of the grotto. I wish I'd taken a picture looking out and down the levels of waterfalls.
And here I pause to recommend everyone run over to Tom Spencer's blog, where he's posted some gorgeous pictures of the grotto here (scroll down to May 10).
There's a second source for the ponds, to the right of the grotto and echoing its shape. I like how the arches of the water sources echo Roman aqueducts:
Around the side of the house, a sunken area. I was a bit confused by this since there was no furniture or apparent purpose to the space until someone said it was a dog-washing area. Judging from the size of the dog door nearby, I'm guessing that some pretty big dogs live here.
A close-up of the stonework. I liked the precision fit:
The view from the sunken area. I'm guessing the vines will cover the wire grid roof in a few years, but I liked how it looked as it was. And the lawn. I hadn't seen the unmowed look in person till I went on this tour. The garden at Buckeye Trail also used unmowed grass to great effect.
A close-up of the inside of the fireplace. I loved the smoke patterns. The herringbone brick also reminded me of part of the driveway that looked old, and upon closer inspection it appeared that the builders had used a couple of different colors of bricks to imitate the wear and tear of age. I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture, because I loved the effect.
So, this garden too felt very secluded, but in a different way than the garden on Academy Drive. Here there was actually quite a bit of acreage surrounding the house, which was set a ways back from the road, and the surrounding woods blocked any view of neighbors.
So, being a person who grew up in the country and prefers to not have people looking into my yard, I was surprised that I didn't connect with the naturalistic, woodsy garden here the same way I did with some of the others on the tour, and I had a hard time putting my finger on why. It was obviously gorgeous.
I think part of it was that, with the exception of the grotto, I felt more exposed in that garden than I prefer. I didn't feel like there were really any private spaces to explore or hole up in, and I really like that sense of discovery and I like the intimacy of having smaller spaces in a larger whole. Heck, even when I would play in the woods as a kid, I'd compulsively build treehouses and places to hide and secretly survey my domain. You could see pretty much the whole back garden from inside the grotto and I assume from the house, and pretty much the whole front garden from the driveway, and the spaces weren't really broken up significantly into different areas, except between the front patio and front yard, exaggerated by the lack of greenery within the hardscaped areas of the patio. There also wasn't a whole lot of comfortable seating throughout the garden, and I tend to not really relax in seating areas unless my back is to some kind of wall, since I never hear people come up behind me.
So I guess that, as a whole, while I loved certain aspects of the Rockcliff Road garden, overall my impression was that it felt more like a place to wander around in than a place to relax. I'm curious to know if anyone else had a similar emotional reaction to this garden, or if it's just a personal quirk.