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Two of our backyard retreats close to each other

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Project by jroot posted 07-23-2008 08:31 AM 6793 views 0 times favorited 34 comments Add to Favorites Watch

RETREAT #1 We had a fairly mundane patio, which has since been drastically improved by the addition of an outdoor fireplace. With the rug down, it is just like a little room, our PERSONAL RETREAT. The best time to enjoy our little retreat is when the sun is setting. Here we can watch the clouds form, and observe the pair of bats as they seek out their evening meal.

Emotionally, it is a place where we can both enjoy unwinding from life’s pressures, and catch up and communicate with our spouse about the daily encounters which have come into our personal lives. It also serves as a great place to share stories with our wonderful neighbours.

One person has described it as an ancient ruin of a castle’s room. Since we live near a cedar bush, we cannot be burning wood, as the sparks are a real concern for safety reasons. Hence I have chosen to use a propane firepit, readily available at most building centres or larger hardware stores. I got mine when it was on sale for almost half price.

I poured a pad beside the existing patio, and then using patio bricks, built up the walls of the fireplace, leaving some open spaces in the back for ventilation and decorative appeal as well. For the top, I poured another rectangular concrete slab. With the help of neighbours, this was lifted onto the walls of the fireplace. More bricks were placed on top of that, and a concrete flower urn was placed on top to resemble a chimney. The propane tank hides nicely behind the fireplace. I placed some little rabbits on the mantle piece, as well as some solar lamps placed into an iron candelabra. The rabbits and the candelabra have been sprayed with chocolate coloured Tremclad rustproof paint.

I planted some flowers into the top of the “chimney” flower pot. Since this photo was taken, I have also added more wave petunias which really look great. There is a dahlia hedge on both sides of the fireplace which gives us more privacy, and brightens up the area with their many colours. I chose the 3 to 4 foot varieties for there. The colour changes from day to day.

We can cook on this outdoor fireplace / BBQ, so it works within the local firecode. We always have a package of weiners or some similar thing handy, just in case. LOL

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown



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jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

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34 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14694 posts in 3880 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-23-2008 08:34 AM

I’m just sitting here shaking my head at the beauty and ingenuity.. this is so beautiful, in such a gorgeous setting. Yes, the rug in front of it really turns it all into a different “space”.

Your work is inspiring!! Thank you

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3811 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-23-2008 08:59 AM

This is just lovely. You haven’t missed a detail for comfort and beauty. I’m wondering——do you have time to sit down to enjoy it?LOL
Seriously, John, as I’m looking at your pictures, it looks like there is no motar bewteen the blocks? Does the stability come from the thickness of the fireplace walls? Perhaps this is something I could try in my yard——in a much smaller version, of course.
I agree with Debbie, your work is inspiring!

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View Eklectic's profile

Eklectic

1824 posts in 3680 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-23-2008 09:06 AM

I just love it!
Wanted to do one with rocks! Maybe one day, I will!
You are quite the inspiration!

-- Eklectic, Follow my Bliss, South East Ontario 5a

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-23-2008 09:13 AM

No mortar, so hence no cracking walls. The stability does indeed come from the thickness of the walls which are two bricks thick, as you can see. Of course, there is an 8 inch pad on which it is built which also adds for the stabiltiy. Because there is no mortar, if it does shift, it is easy to straighten up again with a few taps of the wooden mallet.

I am a retired teacher who specialized in math, drama, and teaching the gifted. The drama flair always comes out in gardening, or any creative work.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View XploreOrganics's profile

XploreOrganics

1393 posts in 3759 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-23-2008 09:19 AM

A master of the garden describes you for sure…Just beautiful!

-- Xploreorganics, 5b Canada, LFD 06-20 http://colorfulcanary.blogspot.com/

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14694 posts in 3880 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-23-2008 09:28 AM

the gifted teaching/inspiring the gifted.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 3660 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-23-2008 09:33 AM

What a beautiful sitting area you have created Jroot.So peaceful.I just love the fireplace.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View Bob's profile

Bob

1429 posts in 3628 days
hardiness zone 3b

posted 07-23-2008 10:43 AM

Just like another room on your house.
Great idea and one that is in my head and never gets done as I have 200 projects ahead of it.
Good to know you have emergency weiners just in case I come visiting.

Bob

-- I want to believe in a lot of things but, in the meantime I have to deal with the truth

View Scott Hildenbrand's profile

Scott Hildenbrand

1690 posts in 3652 days
hardiness zone 6b

posted 07-23-2008 12:06 PM

I like the fact that it’s dry stack. Makes for easy removal in the event that you want to do something else there, or to move it to a new location.

-- Planting Daylilies in Kentucky, zone 6b

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Scott Hildenbrand

1690 posts in 3652 days
hardiness zone 6b

posted 07-23-2008 12:19 PM

Can you snap a picture of the back? I’d like to see how you laid out the vent holes, however pretty sure I’ve got a picture in my head of the stacking layout.

-- Planting Daylilies in Kentucky, zone 6b

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-23-2008 01:00 PM

There is a photo of the back where you can see the pattern and also the propane tank in the blog: http://gardentenders.com/members/jroot/blog/489#comments

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Greenthumb's profile

Greenthumb

2290 posts in 3700 days

posted 07-24-2008 06:52 AM

Nice.

Its on my list…sorry “wish list” for this year. I have collected concrete block, re-bar, fire brick to make an outdoor fireplace/smoker/BBQ/outdoor wood fired oven. Now I just need to find the time

The photos make me wanna get busy

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View Dadoo's profile

Dadoo

12 posts in 3502 days
hardiness zone 4

posted 07-25-2008 05:23 PM

If I can ever get my hands on a backhoe…

Nice fireplace Jroot! I want one as well but lack the backhoe for the rest of that project…at this time anyhow! We can burn wood here…I’m thinking of a fireplace that can burn like 3’ logs, ya know? Stone pavers, elevated Koi pond, Whole hog BBQ grill!. Now you know why I need the backhoe!

-- Mama plants, Dadoo kills, and Chippy buries it.

View Louise's profile

Louise

74 posts in 3650 days

posted 07-27-2008 11:16 AM

I love the setting, what a beautiful place just to set and think.LOVE IT!

-- Louise Edgwood,Md.

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-27-2008 11:30 AM

Thanks, Louise.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Bunting's profile

Bunting

822 posts in 3604 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 07-29-2008 08:22 PM

Welcome to the forum jroot

I love your fireplace

Looks so cozy and inviting

Looks like a great snuggle nook, lol,lol

-- NS Zone 5B 200 KM East of Halifax cheers Bunting------Having a place to go – is a home. Having someone to love – is a family.

View lulugardengirl's profile

lulugardengirl

60 posts in 3507 days
hardiness zone 9

posted 08-02-2008 10:16 AM

This is a great little room I could live there. just pull up my chair and a book. Wow it’s beautiful!

View zeddicus's profile

zeddicus

18 posts in 3306 days
hardiness zone 8b

posted 02-10-2009 02:34 AM

I really like your fireplace. We are looking at putting a fire pit in our back yard, but this makes me think that with a little more effort we could really have something impressive. Nice work!

-- If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 02-11-2009 08:39 AM

Thanks, Zeddicus. If I were to do it again ( and I might ), I would make sure the chimney was done properly. We usually have propane burning there, but when I decide to get rid of some lumber “ends”, it certainly does smoke.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Desktopgem's profile

Desktopgem

310 posts in 3236 days

posted 04-25-2009 01:51 PM

This is amazing, jroot. What can I say to add to the compliments? Not alot. Thanks for inviting us to see it. I think I’ll go and get a cup of tea and sit in it for while from here!

-- Desktopgem

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-18-2009 11:15 AM

The outdoor fireplace and lower patio – our own personal retreat area #1. See above.

A wonderful place to observe nature, especially in the evening with the setting sun pouring light through the stained glass in the bird house below, and also watching the pair of bats as they search for their evening meal. I can’t forget to mention the silly chipmunks that tickle our feet as they run over them. There is nothing so rewarding as to watch a flickering fire in the fireplace, and have endless wall space before, beside and behind us. We feel at peace with all when we sit down here.

Of course, if it gets damp or too cool, or the bugs get bad, we can always retreat into the screened in area just beside the fireplace. – our personal retreat area # 2

Shot from inside the screened in area under the deck facing the fireplace.

Some night shots looking out from the screened in area under the deck. We have added some LED lights for atmosphere, and use candles also.

As a former theatre guy, just to add a little drama, you will note that there are spot lights facing up on the stone faces. These are solar spot lamps charged during the day from the deck above.


-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View mtkate's profile

mtkate

139 posts in 3219 days
hardiness zone 4

posted 07-20-2009 07:55 PM

Those glowing heads might be eery… but I love them! Did you make them?

-- Zone 4a or 4b... depending on where you are standing!

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-20-2009 08:04 PM

No, those heads came from Britain. I used to make them with my students at school, making a plaster mask of themselves, and then making a positive mask. It was a lot of fun. However, I will admit that these did come from Britain. I had them at my former house on the entrance to the gazebo, but I thought that I would put them in this screened in area under the deck. Until this year, I had candles there, but I got the idea of the solar lights, and it works well.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-22-2009 10:30 PM

Updated tonight. Check out the night shots from under the deck.

We love a good competition, as we get to see some truly neat ideas from all contestants.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View GrandmaT's profile

GrandmaT

5389 posts in 3758 days
hardiness zone 9

posted 07-23-2009 09:49 AM

I do love your TWO retreat areas jroot!!!! Such peacefulness … you have done a marvelous job with these two areas … beautiful plantings, awesome fireplace and that enclosed porch looks so snug … :-)

-- "A beautiful garden is a work of heart" --

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-25-2009 04:10 PM

Thanks, GrandmaT.

We just got home from a quick trip to Ottawa, and went out to enjoy the peace & quiet – a lot different from a 7 hour trip on Highway 401 in a rainstorm !

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 3660 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 07-30-2009 12:43 PM

Love both areas Jroot.GramT said it all and I agree.Love those stone heads that light up too.Nice accents.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View sharad's profile

sharad

1671 posts in 3097 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 02-16-2010 12:31 AM

jroot I saw this posting today and was aghast to see the beautiful additions you have made. You really know how to nejoy life. The solar lamps is a good addition. Everything is so good, it will take pages to describe it. I long to see your place but alas we are too far off. Sure you will maintain good health in such surroundings.
Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Alice's profile

Alice

49 posts in 2927 days
hardiness zone 6a

posted 03-17-2010 03:06 PM

You have the most beautiful back yard!

-- Alice, Mountain Home, ID Zone 6a

View Greenthumb's profile

Greenthumb

2290 posts in 3700 days

posted 03-17-2010 05:53 PM

do you have chairs?

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 03-17-2010 09:15 PM

Thank you Sharad & Alice. Much appreciated.

Greenthumb, Yes indeed we have chairs in front of the fireplace. Many lingering nights are spent there with friends sipping on “whatever”. You should come and visit sometime. You aren’t that far away. A good opportunity to get away from the FIL. :)

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Greenthumb's profile

Greenthumb

2290 posts in 3700 days

posted 03-18-2010 06:57 AM

Thanks and the day will come.

You have a beautiful place JRoot.

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View Mark's profile

Mark

28 posts in 2481 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 09-11-2011 08:46 PM

Jroot -

I realize this was posted, initially, quite a while ago – but I just stumbled upon it, and I have to say quite simply…

This is absolutely gorgeous.

I’m definitely partial to the fireplace area; I agree that “castle-like” is a spot-on description as you mention above. But the entire dual indoor/outdoor set-up is incredibly striking!!

-- Mark, Jersey Shore, http://www.all-about-the-house.com

View jroot's profile

jroot

5121 posts in 3510 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 09-11-2011 09:36 PM

Thanks, Mark. The indoor one is even better now that it has a working propane firepit inside. We really love it now.

I’m working on a third retreat in the bush below us, but photos will come when finished.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

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