When we first purchased the house, Teresa Ramsey, Joe’s wife, wrote historical notes about the farmstead for us, using family records and conversations with family members. In it, she wrote about the landscaping:
“Driveway coming into the house – you will notice there are some steps out front leading right off the drive. It was said that in the early days, a horse and buggy would drop off passengers at the steps and they would walk from there up to the front door.
Big boxwoods were planted around the 1930s, according to Joe’s grandma Margaret H. When the Ramsey kids were little, the bushes were about 3-4 feet tall and separate plants. Every snowfall, the first thing the kids had to do was go outside and beat the snow off the boxwoods with a broom.”
You can see how all of the boxwoods and the Hemlock had begun overtaking the house:
Here, you can really see how the Hemlock in particular was encroaching on the house, leading to moisture issues and rotting wood that quickly makes any renovation not fun ($$$$ spent on boring things like a SAFE STRUCTURE. No thank you.)
One of the first things we did was ask our friend and tree removal expert, Josh Young, to give his opinion. Cutting down a healthy hemlock is tough decision because hemlocks are quickly becoming endangered due to an invasive insect. But just trimming the tree would essentially take the beauty from it and, as Josh told me, it was time to let the house breathe again.
So his guys came out and did some digging. It must be fun to play with big toys, because they work quickly and make an immediate impact.
(and yes, that is our furniture on the front porch. We had to move out of our other house before the floors were refinished in this one, so much of the furniture stayed put for a few days. #keepingitclassy)
We are currently working with a local landscape designer to make a long-term plan for around the house – there are some things we need to hide (hello, silage the farmer uses in the winter that is covered with white plastic and held down with old tires) and things we want to bring attention to – like the front steps and recreating the path people used to take when the buggy dropped them off – but for now, we’re just happy more light is filtering into the house. As with most things old, it’s bittersweet to pull up beloved plantings left from a previous generation. I keep reminding myself change is sometimes necessary, and the end result will hopefully make people who love history proud of the house they’ll drive past.