It has been almost two years since I moved from the city to Vastrap. Looking at photos of the house and garden back then I am amazed at the transformation that has taken place. When I first arrived I was frequently overwhelmed by the task of making Vastrap a home that both Quentin and I would feel comfortable in. This was the home he grew up in. Who was I to come in and demand changes? What did I know about farm life?
On good advice, we took our time and considered all the possible options, frequently changing our minds about what needed to be done. I’m glad we didn’t rush. It gave me time to understand what is important for a farm house as opposed to a slick city pad, especially through the changing seasons. In the end we opted for a pretty radical change, but it was the right decision. What we have now completely suits our lifestyle and will be adaptable to changing circumstances in years to come. There is still much work to be done and a lot of learning for this city girl, but happily I have come to a point where I can truly call Vastrap home.
There are many places I could start in the Vastrap retrospective, but one of my favourite changes has been the outside courtyard which runs between the main house and the outside guests bedrooms. A previously dull and dead area has been transformed into a tranquil and useful space, which creates a link between the main house and the outside guest rooms. I had a clear idea of what I wanted, but I called in our local landscape designer and horticulturalist, Jill Stephens, to help with the design and execution. She interpreted the brief perfectly: I wanted low maintenance paving instead of grass; I wanted raised beds with herbs and ornamental fruit and vegetables; all my old pots needed to be reused; there had to be a fountain and a pergola for outside entertaining; and it had to look pretty from all the rooms inside!
Below is a photo essay of how the process unfolded. An improvement, don’t you think?