Thank you for finding That Old House amidst the chaos of the Internet. We are delighted that you are here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let's Take An Old-Fashioned Walk

It's another mostly cloudy day here in northern New Jersey.

We are tinkering with furniture placement in the Parlor,
and it's not going well.

When your husband says, "This looks stupid," you know you've got a problem.
So . . . let's get out of the house for a bit, shall we?, and beam ourselves back to
a lovely sunny day in May of 2009, and take a stroll around That Old House.


(May 2009)
It is a perfect gift of a day -- sunny, warm and breezy.   Let's walk clockwise as we leave the sunroom . . . and Mother Nature has come through handsomely for us, with the first iris blooms of the season:

Right next to the house, a gaggle of iris plants!

Iris blossoms are so over-the-top, no elegant restraint in their makeup.
They are flowers, and darned proud of it.

Around the front of the house... do we have window boxes on the porch already?

Nope, just flats of impatiens waiting to be planted!


a big sprawling angel wing begonia that I hope is big enough
to distract you from the peeling paint:

Dion de-coding secret messages left in the fading azalea next to the porch steps:

If you squint your eyes and don't look closely, the porch looks pretty good, with its Boston and asparagus fern hanging baskets, and when I plant window boxes and some foundation plantings other than dandelions . . . it will go a long way toward distracting from crooked shutters and faded paint!

Crab grass and other assorted greenies masquerading as a lawn in the side yard:

And there is a mystery.
Look closely at this side of the house.

There are no shutters on this side, although their  hardware remains.  But that's not the mystery.  Enlarge the photo below, and notice the clapboard siding in the section to the right.  It is original (ca. 1832) to the house:

Do you see?  At the top of the wall, the clapboards are narrowly lapped, and as you come down the wall, they widens, until they get to the level of the bottom windows, where the width is much wider -- widest of all.  On the rear part of the house, to the left, built 50+ years later, the clapboard is of uniform sizing.

I figured this couldn't be just sloppy carpentry, so I did some research and discovered that it was most likely done on purpose.

This side of the house takes the brunt of the weather, with the upper floors more exposed to wind and rain, so the savvy fellow who built this house gave his upper clapboards minimal exposure to the elements, while allowing maximum exposure for the lower ones which would not take such heavy weathering.  It was a common practice.

Clever, no?  And it worked; those cedar clapboards are still in good condition after all these years.

Well, let's keep walking, toward the back of the house.
A little patch of Lily of the Valley is fading fast:

Further along the back wall, a grindstone leans against the old stones:

And I present to you the world's ugliest conifer.  What the heck is it?

Across from the wall, a sprawling rose bush is ready to pop hundreds of dark red blossoms:

The bleeding heart is still going strong:

Along the wall, another iris has burst forth!

Nearby, a clump of chives cuddles up to rampant spearmint:

(You can just glimpse some gazania and cosmos Alida popped into the border yesterday.)

Annie tidied up the ivy . . .

and now we need to tidy up the tidying:

Back to beauty; in a nearby pot, a hibiscus begins its summer show:

And Oriental poppies are almost ready to pop!

Time to go back inside.  At the edge of the granite slab that serves as our doorstep, a basket of pansies has been valiantly blooming since March, and showing no signs of stopping:

(You can just make out the pink begonias Anne tucked in along the conservatory border yesterday.)

I hope you enjoyed our stroll around That Old House,
and the "mystery" on the side wall of the building!

Dion has decided he wants to stay outside for a little while.
This will last until he realizes that I am inside, where the refrigerator lives.

Changes since 2009 -- the shutters are off the house, and it's all being prepped for painting.
The hard 2010-2011 winter has delayed the flowering of so many plants, including our iris.
The world's ugliest conifer is gone from the perennial bed.
Our lawn is now more grass than weeds.  Pretty much, anyway!
And we are looking forward to our daughter Alida's wedding to Josh on June 25th.
Just less than 5 weeks now.  Eeeek!

Thanks to Chari at Happy To Design for hosting Sunday Favorites!  Click here to visit.

-- Cass


  1. I remember that tour - you can do a before and after once the house is painted.

  2. That clapboard bit is interesting. Usually they had a reason for such things, but it's nice when we can understand. And that goldish iris is gorgeous. Haven't seen quite that color down in these parts!

  3. Interesting about the siding. I hope we see after pictures. Love the bronze coloured iris. Hope you are having a great weekend.

  4. Cass your yard is as delightful as the porch that beckons me. :) I simply love the history of old homes and how brilliant the people who built them were.

  5. Oh my ... I LOVED my walk around the yard with you. It is so interesting about the siding. We have a "few" older homes in our community, next time I'm out and about I'm going to take a closer look to see if they've done the same thing.. your puppy is darling!!! hugs ~lynne~

  6. Hi Cass~
    love strolling your beautiful grounds..
    enjoying the loveliness of flowers..
    listening to the history of the house..
    while secretly sneaking pats to Dion..
    one question?
    Is Howard still on the "that looks stupid kick?"
    or did the walk convince him otherwise?
    warmest sandy hugs..

  7. Hi Cass!

    Any progress on those red curtains?

    I came late to the Favorites party today - - - mid afternoon - - - and you came one link later than me!!!

    Love the story of the different sizes of clapboard siding pieces.

    Have a great week.

  8. Thankyou for the lovely tour, Cass! I adore your garden. I have never seen such beautiful colour irises, love the pastel shades, so much prettier than my blue/yellow ones. Cant wait to see That Old House after her make-over! Have a fab week! xx


Thank you for visiting That Old House; it's always exciting to find new comments -- they are treasured! Because of increasing spam, I have reluctantly eliminated "Anonymous" commenting. Legitimate anonymous commenters, please forgive me! You might try using "Open ID" instead. Blogger's spam software worked for a good long time, but, sadly, no longer.