I get a lot of unexpected questions when I’m at the counter here at the barn, but certainly the most intriguing question I ever got was from Jared Herman, owner and principle architect at Oldetowne Landscape Architects: “I have a vision for your entry; could I create a garden patio there for you?”
So what would you say if a pleasant young guy, with brilliant blue eyes and a rich, deep voice asked you if he could create an entryway for you? Uh, YES!
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Jared really did mean, create it for us. He had his vision, and we trusted him completely to create something just-right. And, wow, did he!
We closed the doors on Sunday evening of our February 2013 Tag Sale, and amidst ferocious wind, rain, sleet, and snow, Jared and his Oldetowne team created a spectacular patio in one short month.
All of the stone and brick in the walls was salvaged from Frederick County. It’s all from fallen buildings – a fate we have saved our precious barns from. I’m so happy to have some part of those farm buildings which haven’t made it.
In addition to salvaging the bricks and stone for the walls of the ‘ruin’, Jared, every bit the scavenger that we all are, searched about our property, and noticed some pieces of wood that he wanted to incorporate into his design. The fireplace mantel and the ‘window’ transoms are all from wood found here on the farm. Jared torched the pieces, giving them the look of having survived the catastrophic fire which clearly felled the rest of the building.
The story of the creation of our patio is not complete without a bit of personal context. Since Christmas of the previous year, Chip had not been feeling well. He finally got into the doctor in February. After a battery of tests, we learned that he had Stage IV Colo-rectal cancer.
Any of you who have ever received news like that about a loved one understand how devastating that diagnosis was. The evening after we got that terrible news, the fireplace, which is a story all it’s own, was completed and ready for use. The crew had actually made an impressive fire in it earlier that day. Feeling extraordinarily melancholy and quiet, we took a couple of chairs down to the fireplace, lit a fire, and warmed ourselves on the cold day, and just appreciated every gift we had received throughout our lives. And drew hope and strength from each other, and the warm and beautiful gift Jared had just given us.
That’s Chip, who’s now cancer-free, walking with our daughter, Katherine, through the then-newly created patio space.
“Yes, it’s designed that way.”
This impressive engineering feat was fascinating to watch being created. Jared’s team, working in a typically frigid Maryland February, built a tent around the space where this prominent feature was to go, heating it as best they could, as the mortar needed to be above freezing. This construction went on for about a week. When the perfect fireplace and chimney had been completed, built upon 3 hydraulic lifts, the lifts were used to lower one side ever-so-slightly, giving the fireplace the crooked, ruin appearance it now has.
Naturally the whole Chartreuse team had been watching the developments, looking forward to its completion. But the day the fireplace was lowered I received countless texts and worried calls – “Have you seen the fireplace?? It’s falling!”
“Yes, it’s designed that way.”
Another favorite of this patio area is the dog-themed fire set. The andirons and the labrador-headed fireplace tools are favorites of mine, too – no, they are not for sale. Those of you who have been coming here since the beginning will remember our cherished black lab, Tar. She died in 2012, and we’ve not had a dog since. These fireplace tools make me think of her every time I see them.
As they finished up the patio walk ways, the entrance was fitted with large, beautiful sections of bluestone. Shortly before we were to open for our March event, I noticed that all the pavers were neatly in place, but there was a large section missing, right at the front door. I thought, “Oh, how sad that such a big piece broke.” Not realizing that they had intentionally left the space blank as they waited for the piece de resistence to arrive: a custom-cut stone with “Chartreuse” carved into it. Jared hadn’t told me anything about it, and when I saw it, I nearly cried. It was just perfect. And I couldn’t believe what a thoughtful, perfect touch it was.
The man himself. Jared Herman, in his element. Jared was hands-on throughout the process. Here he’s bravely (did I mention it was bitterly cold the whole time?) planting the wisteria that grows up between the ‘broken wall’ and the fireplace. The illusion is that the vine created the break, pushing the fireplace to the angle you see today. In truth, it was conceived that way. Jared’s vision was of a ruin – a farm building that had not made it, juxtaposed against those which had.
Photography of the completed patio is by Magnolia Street Photography.
Our completed patio enhances not just the area in front of the main barn, but the entire property. It focuses the visitor’s attention on the farm buildings, integrating them, and harkens to the fate of so many other farm buildings in Frederick County. Jared created a tribute to our precious, and increasingly rare, farm structures.
Come visit us and experience the wonders of a well-conceived outdoor space. We’re open March 17-19. And if you want to see even more Frederick area gardens, mark you calendar for Beyond the Garden Gates tour of some of downtown Frederick’s most exceptional private gardens . The list of gardens and tickets will be available beginning April 1. We’ll be selling them here at Chartreuse & co during our April and May openings.
Thanks for reading,