Uncle Roger's Notebooks of Daily Life

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Thumbellina Gardens

In the spirit of utter laziness, I am recycling an e-mail into a journal post. This is your chance to get a peek into my e-mail in- and out-boxes. Enjoy!

I received an e-mail back in February that said: "i have recently interviewed michelle, from thumbellina gardens to hire for my yard. she gave me your names as references. would you mind e-mailing me back re: your satisfaction with michelle and her workers. how long has she been with you? is she dependable, responsible,etc. most important, is she creative in the garden? are you happy with the end result?" Here's what I wrote back:

We're very satisfied with her ongoing maintenance, but I suppose any decent gardening service could keep us happy.

Where she truly shines is in the design of the garden. We have a difficult yard -- it's a very steep hill. When I was growning up here, it was long grass and we had loads of fun falling, rolling, and sliding down it. My mother actually bought a lawnmower once and we had a few laughs trying to push it up the hill, then quickly forgot about it. Later, after all the kids had moved out, my mother decided to put in a rock garden. She collected rocks and spent hours sitting on the steps, carefully placing rocks as far out from the stairs as she could reach. Eventually, she passed away and I moved back in with my father.

Fast forward to two-and-a-half years ago or so, and the yard is seriously overgrown and, truthfully, an embarrassment. I don't regret, however, having spent time with my dad rather than worrying about how our yard looked. At that point, however, my father had passed away and I was married with one kid and plans for another. We decided to do something about the yard.

I got Michelle's number and a couple others. We sat down with each and discussed what I had in mind. I love japanese design -- that sort of calm, zen thing that inspired Frank Lloyd Wright and so many others. I also wanted to honor my mother and if not keep what she had done, at least continue her theme of a rock garden. I would have loved to put in a stream or other water feature, but unfortunately, we're not rich. Also, we wanted something that would survive in San Francisco and be very low maintenance. Michelle took all this in and went off to design something.

She came back with a wonderful design incorporating large boulders, small rocks, and gravel paths to represent a stream. All this at a price my wife could live with. So we had her do it. She went and picked out the large boulders, including one she wanted to use as a sort of bench, one with crevasse in which she planted a small bush, and one with a sort of bowl in the top that would collect water when it rained (I got my water feature!)

Basically, it turned out great. We pretty much have the best yard on the block, if not in the immediate neighborhood. The only problem with the whole thing is that it faces the house across the street instead of us. If you want to see some pictures, here are a few:

Stone Stream
Rock Garden
Stone Stream
Cliff Dweller

And a couple before and during construction:
Stone Stream
Filling In
Front Yard

Oh, and to actually answer your questions... 2.5 years, we love what she's done for us, she's very responsible and dependable and I would say she's very creative. To say we're happy would be an understatement; we love our garden.

Now, if you a great landscape artist, give Michelle at Thumbellina Gardens a call -- 1.415.564.8840

Journal Description

My life is, to me, ripe with frequent challenges, occasional successes, spontaneous laughter, adequate tears, and enough *life* to last me a lifetime. To you, however, it surely seems most pedestrian. And therefore, I recycle the name I used previously and call this my Notebooks of Daily Life. Daily, because it's everyday in nature, ordinary. These conglomeration of events that are my life are of interest to me because I live it, perhaps mildly so to those who are touched by it, and could only be of perverse, morbid curiosity to anyone else. Yet, I offer them here nonetheless. Make of them what you will, and perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.