Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I Am a Lawn Man
I confess it: I am a lawn man. Some people condemn big lawns, others feel guilty about them, I revel in mine. It's too big for chemical enhancement, which I suppose is the usual ecologist's gripe. As a result, it is rife with imperfections - brown spots, crab grass, weird unidentified plant life, etc., etc. - but it looks fine from a distance. Since Daheim is a place where many things are viewed from a distance, this works well.
Three large outdoor rooms adjoin Daheim on the west, south and southeast. The broad lawn in first image above lies to the west. The gate in the image below leads to a walled orchard on the southeast.
In this wet spring weather, my grass quickly loses the manicured look that Bill and I - on mower and policy desk respectively - labor to produce each year. The orchard, whose walled enclosure covers approximately two acres, was, until the 1920s, closely cultivated with vegetables and flowers. When I came 30 years ago, it was an impenetrable mass of interlocking honeysuckle bushes, impossible to even walk through. It all had to be cleared and burned, which took a couple of summers. Of the few ancient apple trees that had survived to that point, only one is with us still. The back wall of a small tennis pavilion is visible at midpoint on the west wall.
Three large greenhouses, their metal framing donated in the 'Forties to the war effort, bordered the orchard on the east. Dressed stone stairs lead to vanished Victorian doorways. This one has a date of construction tooled into the threshold.
The ogee ghost on the wall of the powerhouse (a huge steam-producing boiler once lurked in its basement) shows the shape of the original glazing. A charming finial, deliciously green with age, survives atop the roof.
Beyond this gate is a flight of stone steps that leads up to the tennis lawn.
There used to be a tennis court (lawned over long ago) on this side of the circular fountain. The stonework under the trees to the right of the fountain marks the top of the orchard stairs.
Here's the tennis lawn from the other direction - more precisely, from my bedroom window. The tennis house is just visible beneath the tress on the left.
Straight columns on perpendicular axes are the key to an elegant lawn. Mower tracks that roam around in unplanned squiggles don't cut it.