Cleaning a Special Mountain Garden

December 10, 2021
Reflections, Day 60
“Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.”
― Barry Lopez
This time of year we clean, prune, and prepare the gardens for winter.
Every time I write about rebuilding or renovating an old, neglected garden, people ask me to be sure and show them what it looks like when it’s finished. But, what is finished? Do they mean the day I get through, or do they mean a year later, or five years, or 35 years? The garden is never finished. I don’t have any “before” pictures for this lovely garden, but I do have a story.
About 35 or 40 years ago, a lady and I were looking at what appeared to be an ivy-covered hillside. The ivy was deeply entrenched and deep. She asked, “John, could you trim that ivy a bit and make it look a bit less foreboding?”
I had an idea that there was a big boulder in there. I wanted to see it. I cut and cut, advancing into the wall of ivy a little bit at a time. I fell into a shallow drainage ditch and crawled out. I began cutting ivy on the other side of the drainage ditch and then, the third day…
Cutting some ivy about head high…
I found the top of a lamp post. I showed the lady. I said, “There’s something going on under this ivy.”
I kept cutting and found a brick walkway. More cutting revealed a retaining wall.
When I got through cutting about a week later, I had not found the boulder that I expected, but rather two retaining walls and a set of steps from a plateau through the upper retaining wall, and down to a brick walkway with a sitting circle on one end. There was a flat place which ran along the brick work. I could see some potential.
Over the following years we planted some of the area and kept it clean. A rather large addition was added to the original house and the entrance to the garden was tied into a veranda that commanded an amazing view.
Around the end of the 20th century, my friend Harce built and installed a long, curved bridge that was supported by curved, laminated beams. It is a masterpiece. Harce used the money to pay off his current DUI. I wrote the story of the bridge into the book, Requiem for a Redneck.
To go with a bridge, I built a pretty decent water feature, using an antique pump as the ostensible water source.
Three years ago, I designed a greenhouse that would cover the heated pool. This comes down for the summer but makes a delightful relaxing and exercise environment for the coldest of North Georgia winters
After we cleaned out all of the leaves and detritus, I just had to stand back and smile. These pictures, then, are the “after” photos until something else changes.
—john schulz
Power to the Peaceful

Published by John P.Schulz

I lost my vocal cords a while back due to throat cancer. The laryngectomy sent me on a quest to find and learn to use my new, altered voice. I am able to talk now with a really small and neat new prosthesis. My writing reflects what I have learned in my search for a voice. My site publishes a daily motivational quote and a personal comment. I write an article a week for my blog, which deals with a lot of the things that I do in the garden. I am also the author of Requiem for a Redneck and the new Redemption for a Redneck--novels portraying the lives and doings of folks around the north Georgia hills. I have an English Education degree from the University of Georgia and very happily married to the lovely Dekie Hicks. You may enjoy my daily Quotes and Notes at

2 thoughts on “Cleaning a Special Mountain Garden

  1. How absolutely lovely! These photos bring your post to life … love seeing the different angles of the garden … so unique.

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