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My Home and Garden

A huge part of my waking life is consumed by family, and by writing. But I am also an eager, yet unpredictable gardener. Why unpredictable? Well, as with anything, I start out firing all guns at once, planting, laying pathways, and generally making the world a greener and more colorful place. And then, life, or really hot weather, gets in the way and I retreat inside. This means that most of the garden you see in the pictures below is from a very select time - usually early to late spring. After that, well, the yard is nice, but I am not digging into it. 

I wanted to share some photos with you of our progress over the years. You may also enjoy the following blog posts:

July 2022 - Stay Cool Baby, It's Hot Out There

June 2022 - If You Give an Author a Book to Read

June 2022 - End of One Thing, Beginning of Another

May 2022 - Annual Spring Party Success

May 2022 - Mother Nature You Are a Finicky B...

May 2021 - Eight Years in the Northeast

March 2021 - Spring and All Those Spinning Plates

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This is how the house looks now, with thousands and thousands of plants surrounding it. At first, with little funds for such things, I used what I could find (or propagate) for free. And this has meant a massive amount of common daylilies, which grow here in Missouri quite easily. You can see them in bloom below.

The ad to the left? We found that when researching our house. The house was still being finished in late 1899, but by 1900 it was occupied by Louise Abney, her mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle. Louise spent most of her life in this house. She is listed as two years old on the 1900 census and she sold the house in 1979 and died four months later.

We have found many treasures since purchasing it in early 2013. And we have created lasting memories as well, as we continue to raise our children (born and adopted) here.

We have also purchased the houses on each side of us and created one short-term rental and renovations are underway to create a long-term rental on the other side. These rentals allow me to stay at home and write and be here for my kiddos.

Main floor, southeast corner. Currently, this room is the downstairs playroom for our two littles and looks a little different from this picture (kids and antiques don't mix well). Behind, through the window you can see Cottage East, our current renovation project we hope to have done by early 2025. Learn more about it by visiting The Cottages.

Upstairs, in a large double-room, are floor to ceiling bookshelves. Currently, this library also doubles as our master bedroom. What could be better than going to sleep and waking up, surrounded by books?

The bookshelves were put in by the 3rd owner of the house, Harold Dellinger, who bought the house in 1981 and lived here until around 2010 or so. He was also a writer.

Eventually, we have plans to finish out the third level attic into a master suite. Until then, I'll just have to "make do" with sleeping in the library. Oh, poor me!

The fireplaces, three in all, were all designed for coal. Frankly, the cost for retrofitting them for gas fireplaces was simply too much. So they are merely decorative at this time. Nevertheless, I love them.

Books written by the occupants of the Writer's House, current and past.

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The Hedy Lamarr Airstream, my current writing/she-shed is perfect for sitting out on the deck, listening to the water flow in the pond, and dream of what to write next. Near it is a large firepit with a circular brick surround that my family and I laid by hand. 

Pretty much every plant you see in the large picture to the left, we have planted. Fruit trees, at least five cherry, six apple, Asian pear, apricot, peach, the list goes on and on. This space was empty land in 2013, now it is a sanctuary of edible fruits, meandering paths (yes, we laid all of these), and an ever-expanding wealth of flowering plants that bloom all season long. Between the three houses we own, and the land, there is over an acre we are cultivating. It has taken a decade to get this far, and it will be likely a decade longer before I'm even close to calling it complete.

I lay the pathways of brick, then build out from the sides, planting iris and daylily around two feet out from the pathways and putting shorter plants (strawberries, columbine, herbs, phlox and more) closer to the walkway. This means that wherever you go through the yard, there are gems of interest awaiting you. Something to smell, something to eat, lamb's ear to touch. You name it. Blooming surprises at every turn!

It feels overwhelming at times, the long list of "to do's" that come with managing such a large space, but I see giant changes with each year, so I know we are making progress. Each year, the area looks better and better. It's hard work, but it is worth it!

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A view from our upper back porch at the large side yard. Until the 80s, three houses stood in this space. 

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A view from our upper back porch at the large side yard. Until the 80s, three houses stood in this space. 

A view from our upper back porch at the large side yard. Until the 80s, three houses stood in this space. 

A large firepit and circular brick surround that we laid in place, along with plenty of seating thanks to the cottonwood trees we removed from the property are a great gathering place during our annual spring garden party. It is also feet away from the Hedy Lamarr Airstream and deck.

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You see that short tree/bush to the right of the gazebo? Every year, for the past three years, it has given us over nine pounds of sour cherries! They are perfect for creating cherry mead or, my favorite, cherry cobbler!

This section of walkway is now in its third year and nice and thick. The daylilies and iris provide the outer/yard side border and we can mow right up to them, eliminating the need to weedwhack. On the inside, bronze fennel and other herbs mix with flowering plants. This includes a large number of wild violets, which grow naturally here in our yard. I collect them and move them to the edges of the walkways where they can flourish. They grow as big around as dinner plates! The bronze fennel I hope to cultivate in droves as the swallowtail butterfly lays its eggs on it. The caterpillars hatch, devour the plant down to its nubbins, and then spin their cocoons. My children collect the cocoons and care for them until they hatch.

Our yard is 100% organic at this point. Our guests are welcome to walk along the paths, pick strawberries and herbs, and eat them. We have plenty, after all!

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