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April 1, 2011 / Linda Hartong

Havens Gate

” My home is my retreat and resting place from the wars.

I try to keep this corner as a haven

against the tempest outside, as I do
another corner of my soul.”

Michel De Montaigne


Located as we are on a rather bare corner lot, we sought a bit of privacy from the street in front of the house.


A huge Monterey Pine grew up through the street.  Although it gave us shade, it limited our ability to landscape. It roots were everywhere we dug.  Looking back, I am not sure why we did not just build a taller fence, but we chose instead to create a narrow planting bed along the front and planted shrubs and asparagus fern as a ground cover. Those of you from temperate climates are probably laughing all ready. But in Kansas , asparagus fern is a benign house plant. In Carmel, it can devour a home. The shrubs promptly died, the fern flourished and the neighbor’s ivy valiantly tried to cover the fence.


















In time, the pine beetle killed the huge pine and we planted other shrubs that have had more success


Our grass struggled.

But I am a suburban Kansas girl and know that grass is what one has in one’s front yard. No matter that my neighbors all shunned it. The grass wars continue to this day.


We sodded only to have the raccoons come in at night and neatly roll it up so that they could get the insects underneath the sod.  I am sure that someday we will give up, but not yet.



We fared better with the barren bed to the right of the walkway to the house. I discovered “Patty’s Purple” Hebe and it has grown to a perfect height and produced lovely blooms.


We fashioned an edge to the foundation bed , laid out stepping stones


and kept the yew that had been trimmed to the ground ,knowing that yew is one of the few evergreens that will bounce back from this kind of treatment. Today , it is over 6 feet tall again.

This was my chance to grow azaleas







Calla Lilly volunteered itself between the house and the garage!




As the housing economy slowed, we  hired one of Carmel’s many wonderful building contractors at a reasonable price and proceeded to  rebuild the deck on the front.



We started tearing out the back patio and redesigning it. There was a weeping Mayten tree in the front yard that looked like a good spot for my own little lookout over both the front and back yards. Gradually it is taking shape.


I love to sit here in the evening with a drink and unwind.



The house is now painted a pale green and has a new roof, copper gutters and a nifty new cedar porch.


We have, in fact, become so private that I can not get a good shot of my front yard. If I stand in the neighbor’s driveway and shoot over the hedge  — but I am so petite that this is all I can show you.

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are copyright (c) Linda Hartong. All rights reserved.

You may not use any image on this site without my written consent. If you are interested in using a photo from my website for any purpose, please send me a quick message and let me know which photo(s) you are interested in.












Leave a Comment
  1. Susan @ pinkportugueseroses / Apr 1 2011 2:57 am

    I hope you know how wonderfully blessed you are to have a home in Carmel!!!
    I only dream of living in a small and whimsical place.
    I have visited many, many times. (I live just a few hours away)
    My husband and I had a chance to move to Monterey awhile ago. But, He ended up not pursuing that job.

    I love your beautiful home. And when I’m there again…I’ll look for it. LOL!!!
    Please keep up this wonderful blog. Every time I feel a little sad..I just look at your wonderful pictures and I get cheered up.

    Blessings to you

  2. Nita@ModVintageLife / Apr 1 2011 3:45 am

    Loved hearing and seeing how your garden has evolved. You cracked me up about the raccoons rolling up the sod. Sometimes it does take perseverance to get the yard you want. I have a long way to go to get my dream yard….but I keep trying.

  3. Carolyn / Apr 1 2011 3:32 pm

    What wonderful progress you’ve made. I love a tiny yard that is hidden and private and full of interesting and beautiful plants. What a different gardening environment from Kansas for you to experiment with. And asparagus fern as a bedding plant? Or a volunteer calla lily (gorgeous!)? I never would have imagined here in zone 7. Love picturing raccoons rolling up the sod! Would like to see the pale green exterior color, or is it not coming through on these?

  4. jeanette sclar / Apr 5 2011 12:47 am

    I will comment when I have regained control over myself, lost while contemplating sod-rolling raccoons! I don’t know why I should find this funny as I am completely certain it was the raccoons who made off with my squirrel-proof birdfeeder!
    Your macro shots of flowers are pure poetry!

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