My Old House Garden

My Old House Garden with Gazebo
My Old House Garden with Gazebo early this spring

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not a gardener. I don’t remember the names of half the plants I put into the ground nor do I really have any knowledge of how to take care of them – so, if plants grow, they grow in spite of me, not because of me. I belong to the local gardening club for inspiration and information but my eyes glaze over when people come out with latin names!

What I do plan for, however, are rooms. As an interior decorator I am used to putting things into spaces. The concept of garden rooms and all that is really popular right now. Glossy magazines have tons of pictures showing elaborate rooms that look better than my living room set up on concrete or stone patios.

What I want to know is:

How do you stay outside long enough to enjoy the warm weather when there is no covering or screening? Aren’t there bugs like mosquitos, wasps etc where you live?

My Old House Garden with Gazebo in the back
My Old House Garden looking east

What do you do when it rains? Do you run out and pull out an entire room’s worth of cusions and store them someplace? Water repellant fabrics are only as good as the stuffing under them. It is possible to buy cushions with water proof or repellent properties but with a stuffing that just sucks the water like a sponge. You can get this special stuffing in cusions but it is very expensive.

We have to remember that magazines use “stagers” just like real sestate agents do. In many cases, as soon as the camera is gone there goes all this gorgeous stuff, and out comes the coverings, umbrellas etc. Of course some of you live charmed lives in geographic areas where there are very few bugs – and occasionally there are periods during the year when this is true for us as well.

But most of the time we have to contend with this issue.

So for the first time ever we bought a screened room. I have to tell you that I have never enjoyed summer so much as this year. I get to go out at any time, any weather wet or dry, morning or night. We bought the screened version then purchased separate panels of lined curtains to keep out any chill or protection from the hot sun.

We started by having a long deck built between our garage and a large tree that had lost a significant limb in a windstorm last year. It was 12 feet wide by 22 feet long. This looks a bit naked when there is nothing on it but it’s perfect for our intended use. The 10 x 10 screened room sits on the far side, snuggled under some trees. These trees provide shelter and shade. The deck of course provides stability and something for the room to attach to.


A screened room sits atop a deck
A screened room was our best purchase this year

The front of the deck is for sun lovers like my husband. We have two Adirondack style chairs painted a vivid red. This picture was taken early in the season. Right now there are masses of bright red petunias spilling from pots I placed on the deck. A washable rug in brick red and cream keeps feet cool from the hot sun beating down on the deck.

Inside the room I have a set of Victorian styled wicker furniture – a love seat and two comfortable chairs, and a matching coffee table. There’s room for an old white wicker side table and chair and another antique table I had no room in the house for. I got cushions custom made in a water repellent fabric in red, green, and cream against a dark brown background.

I have toss cushions in green and brown, and hand quilted cusions for the wicker set and the Adirondack chairs. The curtains, which are tied by a sash are in a small red check and are made of cotton rather than the heavy canvas curtains that can be ordered with the screened room. There is a green outdoor rug on the floor and I made a tablecloth out of one of the curtains.

Four people can eat around our small table but when we have more guests we pull the table out and replace it with a long folding 2 x 6 table. This way we don’t have to use up all our space with a set up that works only when we have company. We have electric lamps on each side table so we can stay there late into the night if we want to.

Ahhh…. summertime and the living is easy….

One thought on “My Old House Garden

  1. Hi Joanne
    Yup, summer is definately over. I really like your idea of a screened seating area- well done!
    We had a problem with our basic 1980’s bungalow overheating in summer. It faces due east and west.

    We needed a new roof, so hired a contractor. We opted for metal cladding, as both my husband and I are 53- the metal roof will outlive us.

    The contractor open the roofline in the west facing back, and extended it, building a covered ground level veranda the full length of the house- in a few weeks we will enclose it with bead board (bottom half) and lattice (top half) and install curtains for shade during the hottest part of the day- as well, these keep the snow off the enclosed patio in winter.

    In the front of the house, he built a gabled porch (my design) , 25ft x 10 ft, with tapered box columns, and simple square spindles and railings -Craftsman style. (next, new doors and windows, sometime this winter…yeah, why do this kind of project in the summer when you can wait until its -40?)

    The overall impression of the design gives the house a retro look and a dramatic facelift. But more importantly- even on our hottest days, the house was a balmy 20-22C, eliminating the need for air conditioning, venetian blinds and heavy curtains.

    Like you, Im not much of a gardener either- if I plant it and it grows, great, -if not- oh well.

    Regarding mosquitoes- planting marigolds and lemon balm around your seating areas, either in the ground or in containers helps keep mosquitoes away. Mosquitoes do not like marigolds and generally will not cross a perimeter planted in them. Lemon balm is supposed to work the same way, although I havent had much success getting it to grow- but marigolds will grow like weeds, are frost hardy AND they will re-seed themselves if you let them winter over in the beds or containers. They come in several heights from dwarf to 2 ft high, and in a variety of colours, including creamy white, yellow, orange, and vibrant orange striped with red. YOu might want to try some in containers next year, that way you can move them around your seating area as need be.

    For those pesky wasps…the Waspinator works exceptionally well. It costs about $10 for the fabric one, which I stuff with newprint to help hold its shape. This is probably the best $10 we have spent in a long time. Each waspinator is effective for a radius of about 25 ft. We have one on the veranda in back, and one on the front porch.

    Nice shady spots to sit in, with no mosquitoes or wasps…it doesnt get better than that.


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