Before and After in the Garden

Many people have asked if I have any before and after shots of the gardens at Faery Hof and Haus Am See. The answer is yes; however, the truth is that I was so overwhelmed and embarrassed by the “before” when we first rented the place that became Faery Hof that we did not photograph things to look as bad, challenging or unhealthy as they really looked. With a factory and railroad across the street, tree stumps and aggressive weeds all over the yard, and a general sense of poverty and neglect, we knew this place would provide the opportunity for the extreme urban gardening, land healing and wild foraging I felt called to do … but on a soul level, the contrast between what I intended and what my eyes and ears saw and heard felt like a daily kick in the gut.

All that feels difficult to believe now, whenever we gaze upon the beauty, health and abundance of our yards and now two homes — one we live in, the other a magical writing office, classroom, community potluck space, student guesthouse, and outdoor entertaining area. While the trains still whistle, a 2017 noise ordinance will make that illegal in town, and the most common sounds in both yards are wind in the trees and bird song. This spot’s magic has increased hundreds-fold, and the dimensional shift upon setting foot on this land or in either home feels palpable to anyone able to sense such things.

The other night I happened upon some old photos from 2012, 2013 and 2014, which shocked me in contrast to today’s abundance and beauty. You can still see and sense the potential in these early photos, but viewing them gave me much greater appreciation for the massive labor of love I’ve engaged in these past few years. For those who’ve wondered, here you go with some dated contrast:

The yard behind our house:

September 2012

September 2012 from our backdoor area: no back fence, no privacy, tons of weeds and unhealthy trees due to black walnut juglone all over the soil. Little waif me excited and with pre-30K-pounds-of-wood-mulch arms!

May 2016 contrast of back yard stump

Same view in late May 2016: elderberries, irises, hazelnut, a healthy mulberry tree, privet hedge growing along the original side fencing, back fence, raspberries, edible dogwood, currants, and gardens galore.

The back yard between our house and the blue house next door:

September 2012 yard

September 2012 on the day we agreed to rent this property and heal the yard. That front tree was unhealthy and got cut down before we moved in. The lone silver maple in the backyard split and fell down in 2013, due to juglone damage, leaving us with one forlorn yard!

May 2013

May 2013, the beginnings of the backyard beds.

May 2016 backyard

May 2016

June 1, 2016 backyard with Generation 2 Garden Tower Project

June 1, 2016 with many raised beds, the Generation 2 Garden Tower Project, a scabrosa rose, compost bins, and in the distance, you can see the herb spiral, what will become an asparagus semi-circle hedge, and paw paw, apricot, dwarf plum, hazelnut trees and a goumi shrub, plus edible hollyhocks growing along the fence line.

The front yard between the houses:

May 2014

The front yard between our house and the blue house in May 2014 after the huge project of hauling concrete from the next door apartments to delineate raised beds in the front yard.

May 2016 panoramic

Same view two years later in May 2016. The yard has been successively blooming for months.

May 2014 with Ann K

David took this photo of me in the front side yard with fellow permaculture enthusiast, blogger and InDiana resident, Ann Kreilkamp when she visited here in May 2014.


May 2016 front yard

Two years later, the view is so lush, I can’t photograph the front of the blue house yard from this spot, but that yard, too is planted with witch hazel, a gooseberry bush, holly bushes, another privet hedge, dozens upon dozens of flowering spring bulbs, perennial flowers, and alpine strawberries. Here you see 2014’s newly created beds filling in with perennials, fruit and nut trees, herbs, and annual veggies.

I don’t have time to photograph all the nooks and crannies of the yards to show before and after shots, but the changes are equally dramatic all around. Hopefully, this gives some sense of the original project and the ongoing transformation. I’d say I’m only about halfway finished in terms of results, although I’ve front-loaded many tons (literally) of labor that will begin to follow that adage of first year sleep, second year creep, third year leap, fourth year reap. Since this has been a multi-year process across two yards and several distinct microclimates, some areas have matured faster than others. Overall, though, I’m excited about the dimensional shift this yard and the two houses afford. And the food and flowers aren’t bad either!

One of three climbing roses in 2016

Potted primrose, lily of the valley, rhododendron, and zephirine climbing rose by our front door.

Faery ring of sedum

A spontaneous faery ring of sedum formed as if by magic, right by our driveway. That reminds me that we also have a rare pileated woodpecker who visits the stumps in our yard. Normally they only appear in mature woodlands. The Faery Realm of Goshen is alive and well!


23 responses to this post.

  1. it’s not just fun to see the changes in the yard, but the reflections in you and how your appearance, health, and glow reflects the abundance and lushness of the glow of your garden. inner and outer always reflecting each other and this theme once again syncs with my post today in terms of that way of looking at it. 🙂 ❤ ya!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Love you, too! Will check out your post later today. It’s session time again…. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Posted by Demitra M. N. on June 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    The flora has a way of inviting in the fauna, and together they transform a pallet of simple green grasses into a dreamy kingdom, resplendent with bright colors and high energies. This is what healing feels like, even for Mother Earth, and every gardener is the facilitating doctor easing the metamorphosis. All gardeners are a blessing, and in return, they are blessed.

    Thanks for sharing, Laura — everything looks amazing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Posted by Mitch on June 1, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Yay! Before and After pics! You can really feel the difference in the land, so happy for you Laura!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Illuminations Now!!.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Posted by PeaceNowFlower on June 1, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    I wish you were in charge of the lawn at my apartment. So much green space so chemically cared for, and we are the pet friendly apartments. I am sure you could find a better balance where residents and nature could be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks so much, Demitra! Yes, my motto is, “If you plant it, they will come.”


  8. Thanks, Mitch! Also, thanks for the before and after nudge. 🙂


  9. Haha, I have my eye on the apartments next door. I keep joking (but not) that that will be the next yard I take over — at least the part we can see from our kitchen window. I would much rather see flowers or some cool raised beds than cars and a weedy lot!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hi Lovely Laura, Namaste,

    Such beauty you share, and the crowning glory in your last photo is breathtaking.
    What an honour to witness such a transformation.
    The woodpeckers deem it so!
    Bravo dear one!

    Was thinking of you today, in fact, and I wonder if you could feel our cat Michi’s presence lately? We’ve been giving her reiki to help a sore leg heal.

    Blessings and best wishes always, all ways,
    Sri Devi

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Posted by sky on June 2, 2016 at 3:19 am

    What a wonderful collage of plants, trees, and garden bliss. The difference is huge between your before and after photos. The life force is so strong in both yards now that it is palpable and almost self-sustaining. It’s no wonder bird song now fills the air there. Your garden is chirping along vigorously and happily these days. Mother Nature and the fae thank you ever so much!


    Liked by 1 person

  12. Posted by chancewriter on June 2, 2016 at 10:31 am

    The difference is breathtaking ❤ I remember driving past that spot when we first moved to 8th St in 2011, and thinking it looked so sad. Now, you really can feel the magic, the health, and the peace that just radiates from the very ground in that space! I am so thrilled for the land and for you, as I can see the changes in you, too (like someone else said). You are obviously exactly where you are meant to be. I am so grateful to be able to be a little part of it all. Love and hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Posted by James G on June 2, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Beautiful Laura, just beautiful! The ancients knew that we used nature as our mirror. You have a beautiful soul my friend. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, thank you, James! You, too, I might add. Wonderful gardens and stories and a magical family all around. ❤️


  15. Thanks so much, chancewriter! And thanks for covering the tender ones during the frost scare while I was in PA. So happy you are here and enjoying your own gardening now! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks, Sky! Yes, it really is palpable. Almost everyone feels the difference, to the point where it’s a bizarre curiosity when someone doesn’t. Then again, we saw that at Turkey Run State Park in the sacred canyon there. For those with eyes and ears to see and hear –and with hearts to feel–it’s obvious and almost overwhelmingly loud in its quiet way. Thanks for your encouragement early on and now!


  17. Oh, Namaste, Sri Devi and little Michi! I’m sending some Reiki to all of you, too. Many thanks, love and blessings for your thoughts and comment. Wishing you a beautiful day and healing for Michi!


  18. Posted by Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature on June 3, 2016 at 1:23 am

    Beautiful!! The garden and YOU!!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh, what a wonderful transformation! And so inspiring as I take on the challenge of transforming the 1/4 acre that is now mine to care for. This week I was feeling a little overwhelmed at what is to be done but seeing these pictures reminds me that I don’t have to achieve everything overnight. In fact, that is a huge part of the challenge – to remember that Nature works to her own cycles and it is for me to slow down and relearn how to work at that much more natural and intuitive pace 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you, Mary! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks so much, Susie, and yes, Nature’s cycles and pace really do trump all in the end. It has been a learning curve that you never get it all done when you think you “should,” but then, delightful surprises happen along the way, or you get new ideas that make you realize, “Oh, thank goodness, I did not get that done only to need to undo it!” Enjoy the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Posted by CindyW on June 3, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    also had forgotten what a transformation you’ve made in that area! love the idea of you also being an influence on the apartments – I’m working with the concept of attracting people who don’t diss the energy but treasure or work with it, because of the empty house next to me …

    Liked by 1 person

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