The Treehouse: Mother’s Day Hideaway

May 7, 2014

Garden Hideaway   |   Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle (some of the photos were by Ben Blair too!). This project is brought to you by Lowe’s. Find everything you need to bring sunshine to your Mother’s Day in the Lowe’s garden department. #springiscalling

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I prefer a really low-key Mother’s Day, with my big request being that I get to sleep in. : ) But this year, I thought it would be fun to use Mother’s Day as an excuse to get a project done in the yard. I know I’ve been sharing lots of photos of the interior of our house over the last few weeks. But wrapping up the living room details marked a break in the interior work for awhile. Spring is here, and we’ve turned out attention to the yard. And the yard definitely needs attention!

Garden Hideaway   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

It is a wild, wild place. Last summer, just days after we moved in, we had a consultation from a tree expert and his landscaping crew. He told us that based on the layer of accumulation on the ground, he thought the yard hadn’t been touched for 20 years! I can totally understand that. The previous owners were in their 90′s, and it’s overwhelming to take care of. Plus, the wildness has its own beauty, and it can be appreciated simply by sitting on the decks that surround the house and taking in the view.

I confess, I am very intimidated by our yard. Tackling the interior is doable for me, but making a master plan for the yard requires a skill set I don’t have. So we intend to contact a landscape architect who will help us draw up a garden design — some thing that incorporates our ideas, plus the realities of the landscape and climate. We’d like the design to be something we can implement over a few years so we can budget accordingly.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

But in the meantime, we don’t want to ignore the yard, so we’ve been slowly, but surely cleaning up the thick layer of sticks and leaves and nature, and adding it to the community compost. And as we clean up, we get to know the property a little better, and get ideas of how we can make the most of it.

Off to one corner is a little shady grove that we thought had potential as a sort of hideaway — a place that’s off the main paths of the yard, where we could go to get a break from the sometimes-chaos that is life with a big family.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

So we started clearing it out. The whole family helped. We dragged fallen branches and lopped off dead ones. We raked and shoveled leaves. We climbed into the trees to shake down the fallen Eucalyptus bark that was caught in the branches overhead. The castoff pile grew and grew until it was about 6 feet high and 8 feet long and five feet wide. It was an impressive pile! And proof of the work we’d done. We we’re proud of it! But only for a couple of days — and then we hired a team to come clear that pile out. It was a bigger job than we could do ourselves.

Once it was cleared out, the little grove was really shaping up! With the old growth gone, the sunlight could filter through the leaves, and there were now pathways to access the clearing.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

Now it was time to make it pretty.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

We started by hanging a hammock — a big one with room for more than one person.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

We hung handsome lanterns overhead.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

We added pots and flowers — I kept everything in a certain palette — coral and yellow and peach and green.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

Next to the hammock, we put a little table. It’s actually a plant stand, but I think it’s just the right size for a glass of lemonade and a book.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

We gathered unused stones from other parts of the yard to make a little footpath. And we added moss. As you can see, the moss came in little roundish clumps. I hope it thrives and spreads and fills in the spaces!

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

We grabbed a blanket from the house and added a pretty outdoor pillow.

Garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

For the finale, we hung a curtain of ribbon in the same palette as the flowers.

Back in New York, we used to take the kids to the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx quite often. We had easy access from our house and we all loved it there. The entrance to the children’s garden was book-ended by ribbon walls — simple grosgrain ribbon in bright colors, hanging all the way to the ground. I loved those cheery ribbon walls! And I’ve wanted to copy them ever since. This seemed like the perfect excuse.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

The ribbons at the Botanical Gardens lived outdoors permanently and didn’t seem to sustain much damage. I’m hoping the same is true of ours! But if not, and we have to take them down in a few weeks or months, that’s okay.

The ribbons were easy to install — all we needed was a step stool and some scissors — and they make the whole thing feel magical. When June saw the little hideaway, her eyes lit up like she’d just discovered a new world.

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

In fact, with two of us working, the whole hideaway was installed in just a few hours. A day of clearing out with the whole family, then a few hours on another day to pot flowers, hang ribbons and a hammock. We took a completely unused space and made it the happiest spot in the yard. Not a bad payoff!

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

This is the view looking up, while laying in the hammock. Just looking at the photo makes me relax. : )

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

Yes, I worked on it too, but I consider this little hideaway my Mother’s Day gift this year. And I think it’s a great one. We love the space!

What about you? Are you thinking about any projects for your yard these days? Or if you don’t have a yard, maybe a little something on your patio, porch or balcony? I get really excited about yard projects! I’d love to hear what you’re working on.

P.S. — This is what it looked like when before we cleared it out:

Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom Transform a corner of your yard into a garden hideaway.   |   Design Mom

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{ 2 trackbacks }

Shorewest Round-up: Home-Centric Mother’s Day Ideas | Shorewest Latest News – Our Blog
May 9, 2014 at 12:29 pm
A Blog Roundup For Mother’s Day | Annie's Blog :: Annieglass
May 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Traci May 7, 2014 at 9:38 am

I’ve never seen anything like those cheery ribbons outside. I love how they contrast with the nature, and sort of match the flowers! What a great idea. Looks like you’ll really enjoy it.

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2 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I totally tried to match them to the flowers. Hah! I had a particular palette in mind. Glad you like it!

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3 Mrspresidio May 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Please report back later on how the ribbons hold up – I’m intrigued!

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4 mary m May 7, 2014 at 9:46 am

What a nice little space–that gives me hope that our side yard can be salvaged. Not as many trees, but lots of ivy and whatnot that needs to come out!

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5 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm

It’s one little spot, but it’s something! I was amazed at how much we did with one day of clearing out.

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6 Arika May 7, 2014 at 10:06 am

What a fantastic Mother’s Day gift! Beautiful!

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7 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Thank you, Arika.

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8 Pam May 7, 2014 at 10:15 am

Love those ribbons! What are they made of/where did you find them? Thanks so much!

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9 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

The ribbon is 1.5 inch grosgrain ribbon from Paper Mart. I chose, light coral, peach, daffodil, yellow and lime.

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10 Nina May 7, 2014 at 10:50 am

Wonderful idea! We have a yard that is very similar..large and messy and imposing. We’ll need to do something similar, just carve out a little space and make it our own. Thank you for the inspiration. And, I hope when you’re ready to design your yard, you’ll post it!

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11 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

You bet I will! I’m really looking forward to working on it.

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12 Tamara May 7, 2014 at 11:08 am

What a beautiful hide away. Thanks for including the before shots. The perspective is great.

We also live on a very wooded lot. We have spent our last few weekends clearing out fallen trees and thorn bushes. I would love to add a really great tree swing to our yard this year.

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13 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Swings are magical! We’re eyeing a specific spot in our yard for swings as well.

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14 Jennifer May 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

You have a gift to see potential in the dark twisty places! Seeing your before photos at the end I can’t imagine much hope and lightness for such a place, well done Blair family well done!

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15 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Thank you, Jennifer! What a kind compliment.

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16 DeAnn Olsen May 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I see you have “Gift From the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. One of my favorite books, given to me by my third grade teacher as a high school graduation gift. An appropriate read in a peaceful garden get-away.

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17 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I think it’s appropriate too. My copy from a friend named Abby — a gift when I was so sick with depression.

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18 kalanicut May 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

Love this little hideaway. Smiled seeing your copy of Gift From The Sea. I have that same edition I picked up in a thrift store many years ago. I love the simplicity of it.

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19 Jenn May 7, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Great transformation & I LOVE your maxi dress!! May I ask where you found it?

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20 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:18 pm

That dress! I love it. I bought it at this famous tag sale here in Oakland called the White Elephant Sale. It fit so well, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s vintage and I hadn’t bought anything vintage in awhile, but this purchase seemed to open the floodgates. I can’t wait to show you the vintage stuff I picked up in Atlanta!

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21 Jean Fahrenbach May 7, 2014 at 2:13 pm

You are very smart to have a big garden clean up. In 1969 we bought a wonderful neglected house in Oakland from a 90 year old woman. The garden, featured in Sunset Magazine in the 1940′s, was in sad shape. During the annual June fire department inspection, we received a scathing report.
We were ordered to remove all debris or the city would clean up the property and place a lien on it for all costs. If we cleaned up after the inspection and the fire department had to return to give a clearance there would be additional fees. Now we spring garden with a careful eye for what the fire inspection might say on their report! Well done. Jean Fahrenbach

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22 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Good to know! Thanks for the heads up, Jean.

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23 mom in mendon May 7, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Happy spot. Love the shots of you and Oscar.

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24 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Thanks, Mom.

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25 Allie May 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I love this so much! What a great little spot. Awesome post.

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26 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

It’s a happy place. Thanks for the comment, Allie.

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27 Melissa May 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm

What a great idea! I love a hammock. This post reminds me of Martha Stewart’s shade garden at her farm in Bedford. With such a large canopy of trees, a shade garden can be really beautiful around your house. Martha has some great plant suggestions on her blog about shade gardens. Maybe hat will spark some ideas for you.

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28 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm

For sure! I am starting to learn what I can about shade loving plants, because most of our yard is quite shady. I’m so glad you recommended the Martha article. I’ll be sure to check it out.

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29 Lauralou May 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm

One of my rituals of summer is setting up the hammock. Nothing compares to that view of the sky through the leaves and branches. I can feel my heart lift. An extra large hammock with room for my boys makes everything feel just right with my world…

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30 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Agreed.

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31 amy May 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm

what hammock do you have? (the link just goes to all of lowe’s hammocks.) it looks awesome! is it very sturdy? thank you!

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32 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 8:04 pm

We actually found it in store — it comes with a giant pillow as wide as the hammock and was on display hanging from the ceiling. It comes in brown or white. I couldn’t tell which one it was online (or if it was there at all), so I just used the general link. : )

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33 Liz May 7, 2014 at 6:53 pm

We just moved into our house in October, and the landscape had been neglected for years. I actually work as a garden designer, so I feel very capable of designing out our own landscape, but I’ve just been waiting and getting a feel for it. It is a bit harder to jump in to a design when it is for yourself! I like the idea of going ahead and just taking a small section and making it very nice and livable, even if it is before I get the whole landscape design done. I love the hammock space–in our yard we have two trees that are a bit too close to utility lines and the house, but they also make a beautiful place for a hammock and so I have no plans to get rid of them.

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34 Design Mom May 7, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Yay for hammocks!

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35 Duane May 7, 2014 at 9:40 pm

I really like your footpath made by stones. I will try it out later in my garden and I will select some more beautiful stones.

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36 Kathleen May 7, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Gabrielle, your blog is a bright spot every posting. Thank you!

Shade perennials that work well for me in Virginia: hostas (Martha Stewart recommends nestling various kinds together – I love the blue color of Cadet), ferns,
Lenten roses, astilbe . . . Creeping Jenny, a “steppable,” is the light green color of new Spring and spreads widely – wonderful contrast to darker green leaves . . .

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37 Design Mom May 8, 2014 at 10:17 am

Thanks for the shade-loving-plant advice. I need it!

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38 Anna May 8, 2014 at 3:17 am

You reminded me of a medieval fairy (you know that according to medieval romance fairies will come and take you if you fall asleep underneath a tree?). I was amazed at the last photo you posted: unrecognizable PILE of nature :-) I think it’s lovely how you’ve created a cosy corner in such a large, overgrown garden. So smart to concentrate on little areas; it can be really nice to know that you have such a place to go to in the wilderness…

The challenge in our garden is of a very different nature as we live in a council house. We have a relatively big garden but its surrounded by ugly conifers and tumbled-down sheds in the neighbours gardens. Also, we have NO budget, so we need to go really slow and beg all our friends for shoots and cuttings. It’s very rewarding though, to slowly mould your garden and to watch it develop and grow.

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39 Design Mom May 8, 2014 at 10:18 am

Anna, I have never heard about those medieval fairies, but I love the idea!

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40 Heidi May 8, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Your entire website is fantastic and so is this makeover! I’ve never commented before but I read your site almost daily and commend you on such a positive outlook, fantastic ideas, and a great family. I have the same large resin planters from Lowes and have been scratching my head over planting them. Did you drill a drain hole in the bottom (since they don’t have one) or use something else inside the pot to fill up some of the space? I’d love any insight on what you did since I normally plant pots that are a bit smaller and am worried about drainage and weight if I just fill these up entirely with dirt.

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41 Katie Harding May 9, 2014 at 8:22 am

You lucky duck! That looks amazing, totally my idea of a dream day, just me, a book and a serene back drop! Enjoy your special day!

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