project front garden – part 2

Here’s Part 2 of the garden build out.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Cousin Lesley and I worked together on the design of the garden. I explained to her what I envisioned – an organic feel, lots of color, and blooms all season. I needed a path to access the water source on the side of the house. And of course, It was essential to have The Virgin Mother incorporated in a prominent location. Lesley and I both agreed on choosing plants that would thrive in a coastal landscape, which in turn would support the native ecosystems in Rockaway. We used this logic as our guide.

This is the first page of my notes! Please Click here for the 100% view and additional pages.


Lesley did a great job, we only had one round of revision. This is Lesley’s final architectural design based on my notes. Click for large version.

Look how off my scale is compared to Lesley’s, LOL!

garden design - rockaway queens

What I love most about the layout is the asymmetry. But somehow both the left and right sides feel balanced and cohesive. Lesley incorporated many of the plants I suggested (Catnip, Agastache, Russian Sage, Stella de Oro Day Lilies) but also introduced ones I’ve never heard of like Creeping Phlox, Switch Grass and my new obsession, Fox Tail Lily!

I was excited, the design was complete but I was also nervous. The clock was ticking and I needed to get this done before the summer heat set in.

Where do I find 13 different plant species, (full list here) 250 in total quantity??  After contacting almost every nursery on Long Island I finally realized I needed to go to a wholesaler. The volume and variety was too extensive for common nurseries. Of course wholesaler’s won’t work with individuals, they deal with landscaping companies only. I wanted to plant this myself for two reasons – one, I love to garden and two, DIY is a lot cheaper. So, I had to use an undisclosed business account to make the deal happen. Sounds shady, well it was and I’m sicilian so you do what you have to do!  I’ve learned throughout the house renovation process there’s a way to get any job done, you just have to get a little creative. In the end I found a great wholesaler and we got quality plants for a great price.


Before delivery day Matt converted the scale (hey, he has a degree in mathematics…).  Then we mapped it out with landscaping spray chalk.


Before planting day, I studied the design more carefully than ever. I had some questions for Lesley, “What do those little starburst markings mean!?” How do I arrange the plants within the sections?”

Lesley clarified everything, I was ready to plant,  I’ve been waiting 2 1/2 years for this day to come!


A blank canvas.


We arranged the plants first, It was still difficult even with the mapping.



But we managed.


It was so rewarding to see the layout come to life. Lesley’s design is beautiful, elegant and complex – I couldn’t have done this without her.


Above was  just the left side, the right side is much larger, and we had to get Mary perfectly centered!


Obama was hanging out the whole time we were working, lazy lazy cat!


garden-rockaway-beach-1 garden-rockaway-beach

It took about 3 days in total with both Matt and I digging. There are more details I want to share about the plants specifically and about the slate path, but I think this is enougha for now!