Of Patches and Porticos
In 2009, a Blade of Grass began work on a beautiful home in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The 1916 house had recently been renovated, and as part of that process, the front portico was rebuilt and extended. While beautifully done (though maybe a little bit imposing in scale) the portico now landed directly upon a worn asphalt driveway that had been cut and patched when new utilities were installed. Not a great look (see the before and after photos below).
Our Work Begins
Our first task for this home was to overhaul the landscaping to the front and side of the entryway. We designed and installed a granite cobblestone inlay pattern set flush in the the driveway to serve as a small but formal entry courtyard and anchor the new portico. Opposite the courtyard, in a peastone landing, we placed a formal teak Luttyens Bench and a pair of vase planters that are updated with colorful annuals seasonally. We kept two large existing sugar maples along the long front wall to create a screening from the street, and also provide a beautiful bright orange foliage in the Fall months.
Many of the front evergreens we saved with some pruning and a good pest management plan. We also added several boxwoods clusters, masses of variegated carex, and grouped blue hydrangea and sedum near the driveway. Upon completion of this first phase, the Blade maintenance team was brought in to prune the evergreens, tend to the gardens, update the planters, and decorate for the holidays, indoors and out.
An Evolving Landscape
Our installation crew has returned to the home since to update the property — adding additional screening trees and a rain garden. We also created a raised cedar bed near the homes garage, for growing veggies.
In 2017, the two sugar maple trees had declined beyond saving and needed to come out. The result was two big stumps that couldn’t be removed without undermining the stability of the existing wall, and a major lack of screening up front. The solution to both problems was solved via a tall evergreen hedge of Hicks yews, which filled the void and also covered the maple stumps. With the new light conditions, we took the opportunity to transplant a pair of redbuds to other locations on the property, and we added two Kwanzan Cherry trees along the new front hedge. They have a wonderful pink pompom-type flower in spring, and we underplanted them with meadow grasses and flowering perennials. We also injected Dwarf ‘Cityline’ Hydrangeas for long season bloom. Last, a pair of large round boxwoods was added to the courtyard area to flank the bench and planters, to help keep things formal despite all the new sun loving flowering plants.
Bumper Car Boxwoods
Sadly, one of the new boxwoods did not make it very long. We learned from the homeowners that it was the victim of one of their teenage daughter’s first driving lessons. However, we found a nice matching boxwood as a replacement, with a little bit of searching. Let’s hope it survives her younger brother!
All the new plantings seem to be filling in nicely and we will be sure to post more pictures and updates as this entryway garden continues to mature in the years come! If you like to see more “before and after” examples of our work, be sure to check our property transformations portfolio.