Notes From Swan's Nest


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Salvaging An Historic Home's Garden

It’s raining – softly, gently providing much-needed moisture for Summit County’s forests and gardens. The temperature has cooled as heavy clouds move in, and I’ve slipped on a sweater to ward off the chill. It’s summer in Colorado’s high country.
I’ve taken a break from my office and kitchen the past week to spend time in the garden. More specifically, to dig long-established grasses and weeds out of a large rock garden bordering the driveway in hopes of creating a perennial garden retreat that’s soothing to the senses and provides a lush view from dining room and kitchen windows. I’m only one-third of the way done and it’s been an arduous task – one that strong, young  summer helpers in past years always found ways of avoiding, no matter how many times I wrote it on their “to do” lists. So now the work has fallen to me. I either dig out the grass and weeds, reclaiming the garden for my own, or I allow Mother Nature to get the better of me and look at a royal mess for years to come.
I’ll admit the rock garden was already on my list for this summer, but an unexpected opportunity pushed me into action. My husband Randy noticed an ad in our local paper for 140 feet of black cast iron picket fencing – free to the first one who would disassemble the fence and haul it away. The fence surrounded a modest historic home on Breckenridge’s Main Street that had long ago been turned into a business, and new owners had recently started a major restoration of the building to reclaim its original appearance. The fence had to go before heavy equipment arrived, and I knew its graceful, Victorian lines would complement our historic home, Swan’s Nest.
The day Randy and I drove into Breckenridge to take down the fence, I realized it surrounded what had at one time been a stunning perennial garden. Unlike the smaller perennials in my newly-planted gardens, these were huge specimens of delphiniums, lupines, poppies, salvia, violas, and even a few rose bushes – probably planted years ago and lovingly tended. I learned these plants would soon fall victim to construction equipment, so with the new owner’s blessing, I brought a shovel and containers to salvage what I could.  It gave me great pleasure knowing I would be salvaging the flowers in front of one historic structure and moving them to another.  The only problem was, I didn’t have a garden to relocate the plants. And so, my rock garden rehab project began….and continues.