Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Happy Fortieth Anniversary to the Lord and Lady of Oak Hill Lodge!

So we don't exactly fit the "cookie cutter" mold in many respects, one of which how we choose to celebrate our Fortieth Anniversary. Knowing this, our wonderful daughters and their families got together and planned the best ever celebration we could ever have hoped for! We are having a zero clearance fireplace installed the first part of December and have to get the framework for the piping and the hearth all done prior to that date, so planning a party or going away, seemed like it just did not make sense. The girls all got together and planned that they would all arrive early morning on Sat. the eighth, guys with tools, women with food and grandchildren ready for another Lodge adventure. Pete had arranged to have a manlift which we picked up early that morning to reach the 35+ feet in the air where the rest of the work needed to be done. Eric and I had managed the first 25' from ladders, but this final section required cutting into the roof, flashing and lifting the framing sections beyond where our ladders could reach. Not to mention, at those heights, a manlift makes you feel much more secure than a ladder. That afternoon a few of our nearest and dearest friends arrived on site, some to join in on the work and others to enjoy an Italian Extravaganza Feast that the girls had put together. They had made decorations including the fabulous "40 light" pictured above and a delicious cake topped with our wedding picture! The grandchildren provided much entertainment and lots of laughter!
By the time darkness fell, the top of the chase was near complete... just a bit of flashing left to do, but ALL ready for the install. Thank you, thank you, thank you! ... and still a few weekends to complete the hearth!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Seasons and The Screen House

All too quickly the seasons escape us, turning almost before we realize it from spring to summer, summer to fall and fall to winter... only to become spring again. I am thankful for the pictures I take throughout the seasons to remind me that each has its beauty and that tho' winter may seem long as we are about to enter another one... each season truly has its own special beauty.

First Snow of 2014

November 2, 2014 will go down in my memory as the first time ever I can remember a significant snowfall that early in the year. We received between 6 and 8 inches at Oak Hill Lodge. A wet, heavy snow, it took its toll on the trees and shrubs most of whom had not even had the chance to drop their leaves. As the day went on, oak leaves encased with snow hit the roof of the Lodge, making loud thuds and forming into snow balls as they rolled their way several feet down the roof. We went out shortly before dark to see if we could help any of the trees that had bent to the ground, but it was a case where you risked more damage in an effort to help. The Kousa dogwood, the birches, the fruit trees, the Japanese maple and all the forsythia were bent right to the ground, some having lost branches which snapped under the weight of the snow. We lost two fairly large pines in the storm. The weathermen said it was a nor'easter with winds gusting to 50 mph. Winter surely came fast this year. The morning I still had roses blooming, marigolds looking grand, tropicals such as canna lilies and elephant ear still in their glory, potted annuals like love lies bleeding and nasturiums still cranking out blossoms and by afternoon, all was frozen under a blanket of white. Now I start crossing my fingers that we warm up again so that tubers can be removed from pots, gardens can be cleaned up and leaves can be mulched.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Stairtower Progress

As of Sunday, August 31st, we officially connected "Upstairs/Downstairs"! I had predicted that we would be less likely to use the Pub until that connection was made despite Eric's predictions that the short trip around the building would be no big deal. Christmas vacation of last year when the Pub had only been recently completed proved my suspicions as we had lots of snow and ice by that time and meals transported by tray to the Pub were often times quite cooled down and peppered with snow flakes by the time we went to eat them. Not to mention the risk of carrying a tray full of food and drink across icy driveways was not ideal. Even when spring came there were the spring rains, and mud season to contend with. The other and perhaps the biggest problem is that we never stop working on whatever the project may be until dark which in summer means nine or later and by the time we get showered, make dinner and get ready to settle in and watch a bit of TV, the upstairs area seems more inviting as the bedroom is only feet away and we are feeling pretty tired by that point.  There was also the problem of water coming in under the door in the winter and onto the Pub floor. Even so there is a drain, it was not a good situation to have it come in whenever there was a big snow followed by a drastic thaw. The ground was so frozen there was no where for the water to go but into the Pub as the land sloped in that direction from both sides to allow for the daylight basement.
So, Eric insisted that I make the "maiden voyage" as I had done so on the stairs to the loft. Oh, what a feeling! It is AWESOME! Makes life so simple to be able to run upstairs for forgotten items. I just LOVE it!
This weekend Eric worked on closing in and venting the eaves while I built out the window jams to allow for the addition of 2" or polyiso on the outside along with the strapping and finally the board and batten siding. We will also insulate the inside walls with 6 inches of fiberglass insulation and run some polyiso on the ceiling after the vents and bats are in place. The Lodge is so well insulated we do not want to allow any heat loss from this new addition. Ultimately, it should actually help as it will become the new entryway so that the blast of cold does not come directly into the main room of the Lodge. 

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, and More Tomatoes!

Since Eric is known more to eat chocolate and chips... I am happy to grow as many of the cherry tomatoes as I can. He LOVES them and can eat 50 or so a day... it is just like having a candy dish sitting out with a four year old!

Gardens of Mid September

I love to play up the yellow in the gardens around Acorn Cottage. 

I can't get enough of this planter... with its love lies bleeding, morning glory, begonia and scented geranium. 

Gypsy enjoys an early morning stroll among the deck planters. 

I love the way the phlox punctuates the colors of the rudbekia and the fuchia phlox

The marigolds which were started at Raymond Court are magnificent!

The view from the field down toward Acorn Cottage.

Sum and substance beside a sedum offer a beautiful color combination. 

The sea holly adds a welcome touch of blue to the sea of greens, yellows and white of the hostas.

The hostas are showing some signs of stress from the heat and from a few munchy slugs, but overall still look great.

Houtuynia grows more pink as the season goes by.

The rose garden is still offering up blossoms. The morning glory vine I planted to help cover the arbor until the climbing rose gets up there is really beautiful. It must benefit from the heavy feedings I give the roses as I have never seen leaves so large on a morning glory. 

Remember this same shot when it was spring... note, I still have the forsythia wreath on the screen house door!

The white phlox just glows even at twilight.

One of the yellow roses in the rose garden.
I just can't get enough of my gardens. I love EVERY stage of their development from dreaming about their expansion, to the plant selection, the hardscape design, and yes, even the digging. It is so rewarding, it fills my soul.  The gardens are ever changing and it is fun to see what each spring, summer, and fall month bring to blossom. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gardens of Late Summer

Oh, the colors... the bright yellow Rudbekia...the blazing red begonias, one of my very favorite the fuchsia colored Love Lies Bleeding, and huge balls of white hydrangeas! The light this time of year is so pretty, although I wish we could keep the longer days of July. The gardens still look wonderful. We have been blessed this year with a fair amount of rain woven in with some sunshine and now the dewy mornings of early fall keep the grass so brilliantly green. The cutting I took from my huge Angel's Trumpet plant has many blossoms and looks just magical, especially at dusk when the white blossoms seem almost iridescent. My roses are still budding and blooming. The hostas are pretty much done with their blossoms and each visit to the Lodge means a trip out to deadhead them of their long flower stalks. I have had less trouble than some years with slugs although their handiwork can be seen here and there in the  hosta beds.  This year's troublesome pest award goes to the Japanese beetle of which there were thousands this year. Tent catepillars have also been troublesome, attacking the fruit trees and the willows and found just yesterday on the viburnum. I wonder if they are more widespread this year because we have been eliminating their favorite tree on the land which I affectionately call "ironwood" for lack of a better I.D. These trees would just be COVERED in tents in late summer. I would get out my pole pruner and cut and burn as many as I could reach. Perhaps erroneously, I had thought be eliminating that tree, which is particularly unattractive anyway, I would eliminate them from the land... instead they just seem to be choosing other trees in which to make their tents. 

We Make a "Breakthrough"

Saturday's projects included getting the overhang ladders, the drip edge and the weathershield, on the roof, all necessary before we could cut the hole in the upstairs wall and begin to build the long awaited stairs to the Pub. Eric also installed the digital lock system in the entry door along with a deadbolt so the stair tower is now secure. The first picture provides a great depiction of just how much dust went flying about the Lodge as we cut through the thick walls. First the sheetrock, then 2" of polyiso, then a layer of T&G pine, then another layer of 2" polyiso then strapping and lastly the outside 3/4 inch shiplap siding! It was a major job to get through it all even with the longest reciprocating saw blade we owned. At one point, I suggested that Eric go get the CHAINSAW!  We were conservative with the first hole we cut as we weren't 100% certain of just where the roof rafters of the stair tower would lie. We did get stuck with a bit of an angled corner which although not ideal, allowed us not to have to raise the roof even higher than it is, which would have meant marrying it into the roof of the Lodge instead of the framing all coming in under the eaves. I feel confident that we can make it look good when we trim it out. The hole being cut looks SO strange. When we did our nightly Garden Tour, we made sure to walk pass the two large windows on the back of the stairtower. It was incredibly weird to look in and see both levels of the building. This morning we were greeted with the morning sunrise streaming into the new space. We are going to keep the walls off-white so we will maximize that sunlight. Now we can begin to calculate the exact rise and run of the stairs instead of the rough calculations we had to make with the outer wall still there. What a wonderful thing it will be to have that access, not to mention not having the worry of the melting snow running under the Pub door and into the Pub. Last night we cheated a bit and propped a ladder up so we could get the feeling of the stairs. The next project will have to be closing in the eaves as those pesky mosquitos are clever enough to see they have an easy access. We also must build out the windows to allow for the 2" polyiso we will put on the outside before the siding. I can work on insulating the back wall in the meantime. We also figured out the wiring so we can get that in place so the inside insulation can be put in place as well. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

And Now We Have the First Layer of Sheathing!

While I went off to Della's Birthday/Frackelton Summer Party with Vanessa, Lawson and Avery (which by the way was awesome to have most of the family under one roof), Dad and Drew worked on sheathing the stair tower. I was so amazed when I got home! It is such a cool space inside and the way the pitch of the roof is so much shorter on the entry side, really makes it seem less formidable and more welcoming. Next, we will work on building the "ladder" for the roof overhang so we can get the Weathershield on and we will be waterproof! Then, we can put in the windows and door and then get the exterior insulation on. We are having a bit of a battle with ourselves as to when to punch the hole through the Lodge wall. In a way it is like a "carrot" hanging just out of reach which pushes us. On the other hand, I am just so darned excited to see how much we can open up that wall and start using it to get to the Pub, I almost can't bear to wait. Stay tuned for what we decide!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Glen Hosta Garden Is Carved Out of the Pines

Although it doesn't photograph particularly well yet with its unmulched beds and barren paths, the Glen Garden will provide a happy home for all my 2014 hosta purchases and allow me room to expand in the future either by dividing my own plants or purchasing new ones. We took down about a dozen pines with two more slated for winter felling once the perennials have died back. We limbed up a half dozen others to allow some dappled sunshine to penetrate through the high branches of the pines we left standing. The soil in this area may have once been cultivated as it seems very good, but I still added some Plant Tone when I set in the new plants. A vacation trip to Ossippee Trails Nursery provided a couple new astilbes which make great companion plants to the hostas. Eric left four stumps just high enough to make benches from the great slabs of wood that Barry had given us. It will be a fun garden room as it provides such a nice view of all the other gardens and the Lodge itself. We left sufficiently wide paths for the mower as we anticipate the paths greening up with a combination of weeds and grass as all the other areas in which we have allowed the sunshine to enter have done. It is quite surprising how fast it fills in without any seed being scattered by me. The paths connect up with the paths to the Witch Walk and the back of the Hydrangea garden. Note in the second picture how I have encouraged my new plants to look toward their more established plants to encourage them to grow big and strong!