Garden Photo of the Day

Jeff’s building a patio!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

Today’s photos are from our friend Jeff Calton (tntreeman). He’s been keeping me updated on his patio project over the last week or so, and wanted to share what’s going on around his garden these days. He says, “Hello, my name is Jeff and I am a Horticultural Exhibitionist. The yard changes every week and I’m in the end stages of a patio project so I was taking pictures…again.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“This year has been super rainy, and I mean A LOT of rain, so everything has grown especially lushly, at least those that didn’t turn to mush or get beaten to the surface by driving rains. Weeds grew especially fast and it has been difficult to even mow the grass and you can see that trimming was an impossible task. Finally, we are getting at least every other day of sunshine so things are starting to come together for the high summer show. My yard is always last on the list for maintenance so yes there are some weeds and most areas have not been freshly edged or trimmed…maybe next week.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“This patio project started thinking I could finish it in one weekend but I soon discovered that I have wayyyyy too much gravity here at my house those stones are HEAVY and I really only have Sundays to work on it. It isn’t finished yet as I have two more stones that I will need several people to help me with and I’m borrowing a gravestone cart to move them. I along with one helper have been working on it and hopefully can build the quasi pergola this weekend which will go in the dead grass zone along the outer perimeter.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“I will plant ‘Star Showers’ Virginia creeper on the four upright posts and let it climb those and across the stringers. I will be installing finials on top of the uprights that are copper and have solar lights built in and iron brackets on the uprights for hanging lanterns. I got a little anxious and moved some furniture and plants to gauge the size of the finished area.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“The chandelier came about because a client was throwing it away and I bring everything home that nobody else wants and I keep every oddball thing we dig up on the job. Horseshoes, four cannonballs, those iron cultivator discs hanging in the tree (yes they do inflict wounds when you are weeding and stand up forgetting about them being there.) We once dug up a prosthetic leg and I still don’t know how someone could misplace that.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“Anyway it has been a real job and we will have used approximately seven tons of flagstone, I don’t know how much sand, and LOTS of brown river gravel. My shoestring patio has become an entire shoe! I have to be ever so formal and proper on jobsites that it’s fun to do crazy stuff in my own garden. I’m morphing into Felder Rushing and I like it!”

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

Looking good, Jeff! I love the patio. It looks like you just couldn’t wait to use it… I am the same way. Before Rob can get a newly renovated room painted all the way I’m already arranging furniture. BTW, that solar lantern is GENIUS! I am so copying that.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

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View Comments


  1. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    more rain all weekend so no pergola and the stones have not been finished,,, maybenext weekend. michelle, i read so much and visit so many gardens and surf online that i can not take credit for the solar changelier completely because i honestly do not know if i saw that somewhere else or not. i think i must have because i'm not that clever

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/08/2013

    Everything is really coming together great. The first picture makes it look like a secluded patio on a tropical gives off a very personal vibe. I love the close up of the chandelier. It really is a neat idea and today when I'm out in the yard working here and there, I'll probably be giving things a fresh look... wondering if I could pull off a fun creation like that!

  3. pattyspencer 07/08/2013

    Gardens are always a work in progress and a never ending battle against the weeds. I was just reading about what Virginia Creeper is and it looks like you'll be having your hand full with keeping it in check (speaking from someone who has a pension for getting plants that get out of control - lol) But it will provide you with some quick coverage and will look totally cool. And I totally love your solor chandelier!

  4. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    pattyspencer, the star showers is variegated and much less vigorous than standard virginia creeper. i don't expect problems with it,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,yet. 2 margaritas and pruning shears and it will be surgically removed :)

  5. deeinde 07/08/2013

    Love it! The flagstone is beautiful! Will the pergola go over the entire patio? Make sure you post pictures of the pergola when it is done.

  6. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    yard mom, it's not really a pergola so much as a climbing support, it's going only along the outside perimeter of the stones to give an open "wall" along one side to make the patio feel more snug and sort of a separate room from the rest of the yard. with this rain and backlog of work i don't know when that structure will be finished

  7. flowerladydi 07/08/2013

    I love it Jeff! The flagstone is gorgeous!,,, I KNOW how heavy it is,, you have done a great job!,the feel of flagstone is just kind of war and comfortable, not too formal.,and being in the business too,,, understand how our yards are the last to get attended to,,

    LOVE the chandelier,,, and the fact that you bring home all those goodies !,,,,, I can totally relate!,,,,, so,, what are you going to do with the prosthetic leg? Maybe it would be cute painted with a shoe on it, and some bedangles or something?!, it is all fun!

    I also love your Harry,,,, he is great! I had Harry for about 8 years till we got anhilated by cicada's a few years back,,, and due to their activity on the branches,,, ( they LOVED Harry ! ), weakened it all too much,,,, so,,, the good thing is,, when something dies, it gives us the opportunity to try something new!

    Have fun,,,, and enjoy!!! Diane

  8. flowerladydi 07/08/2013

    sorry about the misspelling,,,,, annihilated,,,,!!

  9. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    no clue what to do with the leg but i never throw anything away. i think i might be featured on Hoarders soon.
    Harry Lauder,,,,,,,i had a green leafed one that the japanese beetles loved and finally removed it for that reason. this red one they don't seem to like but it suckers from below the graft too so that's a regular job.

  10. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/08/2013

    Ok, so of course this looks great. No surprise. But those cultivator disks? Absolutely amazing. Need some. Now. The only other blog that I look at regularly is "Danger Garden: Careful, you could poke an eye out." She needs those in her garden for sure! Thanks for sharing.

  11. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    i LOVE danger garden and she is the reason my credit cards melt ordering from those oregon nurseries!

  12. annek 07/08/2013

    woo hoo!! a view of Jeff's patio...(now we just need more photos of the rest of your garden). The cultivator discs are PERFECT! Whimsy takes a backseat to this idea. We have an old farm tractor rake (gads, what is the real name?) that I'm dying to do something with. Maybe I should take a photo and see what the GPOD-ers think.

    The flagstone is beautiful, and I love your huge caladium. The charming pig (is it a statuette?) looks right at home next to the cultivator discs. Well done!

    Anyway, what a lovely respite for an after-gardening glass of wine (or beer). If I'm ever in Tennessee, I'll stop by with a bottle/six-pack.

  13. GrannyMay 07/08/2013

    Love it, love it, and it's not even finished yet! The chandelier hanging from the rusty rebar tripod, the cultivator discs, the round thing-a-ma-bobs on stakes, big pig - such fun! I can imagine sitting there enjoying your lovely views and smiling each time my eye stops at one of your "finds". Please do keep sharing your project as it evolves. As gardeners we enjoy the anticipation as much as the results.

  14. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    come on down, annek and a 6pack would be welcome. the huge caladium is actually Colocasia Antiquorum Illustrus and they are prolific AND thirsty, the pig is an old weather vane. we made a fountain awhile back by standing an old tractor disc upright and it turned out great/nobody ever knows it's actually a farm implement. i'm one hour from asheville nc (great town) one hour from biltmore house and about an hour from gatlinburg/smoky mt. national park AND Dollywood! :)

  15. Nurserynotnordstroms 07/08/2013

    We are going to do a flagstone patio next spring we aren't to sure where to put it in. We need to take chairs down to the lower level and sit down and look at which direction will be the most pleasing. Looks like you have a large piece of property and had no problem figuring out where to locate yours. I love how its sunken and edged with flagstone. It's going to be a great place to relax after a hard day of work. Thanks for sharing your hard work with us.
    Have a happy day.

  16. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    May the round thingamabobs are old "tiki torch" poles that were going to be tossed by a client, the ceramic balls were also found items. now if i had your sauna! i know i have too much "stuff" and i keep dragging it home but i can get by with it here and call it all a research project for future use on jobsites :) thanks and i keep returning to look at your garden photos regularly

  17. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    nurserynotnordstrom it was placed there because my next project is to tear off that awful screen porch and expand/rebuild with the patio being just off the west side of the new porch. if you're doing the patio yourself get ready for some work. i always sub those projects out on jobs because i am slow and i need someone who knows what they are doing and can do it fast. the excavation for the gravel base took awhile so now i have a "berm" to figure out something for, moving tons of gravel and raking smooth, decomposed granite for a firm base, then the flagstones sliding them off the truck on ramps and rolling the big ones into place on 4" pipes, then sand and river pebbles and polymeric sand in the joints. next i think i will recreate the pyramids of Giza in the west lawn

  18. schatzi 07/08/2013

    Jeff, your patio is gorgeous! I absolutely love those cultivator discs. I had no idea they were so beautiful.
    I totally understand about rain and weeds - everything
    grows prolificly here in the Pacific NW. And I also love our Oregon and Washington nurseries. Have you discovered Far Reaches Farm yet? They are over on the peninsula and are fabulous plants people and explorers and just great human beings. I wish I could hire you, but I probably couldn't afford you! Keep up the good work.

  19. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    Schatzi, i do know Far Reaches Farm and ordered Berberis jamesiana from them this year, i still can't believe i bought a barberry but this one is very cool. also ordered Gunnera and wingthorn rose from gossler farms. i often lust over everything at Cistus Nursery and Dig. gossler farms cured my fear of mail order plants, the gunnera and monkey puzzle trees were LARGE 3 gallon plants i was very surprised as i was expecting small qt pots of something. of course, i was attacked by the monkey puzzles when i took them out of their shipping sleeves

  20. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    sorry, the monkey puzzles came from Greer Gardens

  21. tractor1 07/08/2013

    Very nice flagstones, I love their south west hues. It's fairly easy to locate a patio, within no more than ten paces of a fridge! Which reminds me, that table looks mighty nekid without my pitcher of 2nis. Jeff, if you'd like to see your monkey tree mature you gotta give up those smokes... only thing I see on that table... learn to sip margaritas with a straw.

    After all the rain I was finally able to mow, took a full day but looks pretty good. Then I got greedy and decided to mow my walking path at he rear of my wildflower meadow, hit a soft spot and got bogged to the axles, even in 4-by it wouldn't budge. So decided to get my big beast tractor, walked all the way to the house and realized my car was gone, its in the shop and the tow strap is in it. Fortunately my neighbor was home so he got his tow strap and gave me a hand, the big beast yanked the small tractor out of the quicksand effortlessly, but took me an hour to hose it off... was the hottest most humid day too... was time for a drinky but I was good, had an ice cold Pepsi. Next trip to the store I gotta buy a 2nd tow strap, if my neighbor wasn't home my little tractor would still be bogged down. It'll be a month before things dry enough for me to mow my paths, especially around my pond. I can appreciate what you mean about the weather dictating the pace of your jobs.

    Don't forget the weather proof electrical outlet at your new patio, I haven't noticed any solar fridges... you may want to consider a propane or kerosene fridge.

  22. sheila_schultz 07/08/2013

    I love it, Jeff... not much is prettier than a flag patio. The good thing about the extra time it is taking to finish because of the rain is that you have been able to design, redesign, then redesign again! By the time that sucker is finished it will suit your needs like your favorite garden glove!
    I'm also a 'Harry' fan, but my husband thinks they are the ugliest shrubs known to man. Last year I put one in a container... figuring I could just slip it in the garden at the end of the season and he wouldn't notice. It worked, but the poor baby didn't make it over our cold, dry winter. The twisty, twirly branches remain as garden art...I kinda like it ;)

  23. schatzi 07/08/2013

    Hello All. I love the interplay between all the regulars to this blog. What a great group of people! I would love to meet all of you and see your gardens what a blast that would be. I got a real kick out of the mower getting bogged down. Years ago My husband and I were logging at the back of our property and broke the axle (or something crucial!) on our 4WD diesel tractor
    and had to push and steer it back to the house! Luckily it was the smallest Japanese tractor. We bought that size because it just barely fit in the bed of our pickup, and when we were building we didn't want to leave it on the property to maybe wander off... That Satoh tractor is over 35 years old now and we have done tons of work with it. Doesn't owe us a thing and it still purrs - well maybe it's more like a roar...

  24. gramavel 07/08/2013

    Hi,I am curious about those cultivator discs.Is this the way they look when being used for cultivating or have they been cut out somehow to make such a pretty sun design? Thanks

  25. user-1020932 07/08/2013

    gramaval they have not been cut that's exactly the way they look, they are mounted on an axle and spin for cultivation. rusty sunflowers
    tractor you're 150% correct about the smokes but some days when things go haywire i would smoke crack if i had it! not really but i do need to give them up. and you mentioned southwest colors of the flagstone, they were brought over from southwest virginia a stones throw from here and came from very near Natural Tunnel state park. the monkey puzzles are excruciatingly slow and very prehistoric looking , the coast redwoods gain height very quickly but i don't think i'll be re routing my driveway through the tree for at least another 2,000 years. your experience with the bogged down tractor sounds like one of my days!

  26. tractor1 07/08/2013

    A bogged down tractor can be a big problem unless one has a larger tractor to pull it out. I spent today working in my forest path. Telephoto shinks it but it's over 600 feet long.

  27. wGardens 07/09/2013

    Jeff- I am loving this ... wish I could check it out in person. You have some wonderful ideas, great vision for your property! I was unaware of a red "Harry"- I'll have to check that out!

    I look forward to seeing more photos ... wish I could hire you too!

    I would love to know your 5 top favorite shrubs, trees and perennials!

  28. darylsavage 07/09/2013

    Jeff, your property is beautiful, and I love the blue spruce focal point with the maple in the distance. My husband built us a bluestone patio with a dry-stacked stone wall, and it just about killed him, and he is an animal. His wrists were sore for months from all the lifting, and it didn't help that I made him re-build the waterfall feature because it ended up looking like a staircase in stead of a waterfall. Speaking of digging up funny things, my neighbor Bonnie dug up a canned ham in her backyard the first year she gardened on her property!

  29. user-1020932 07/09/2013

    thanks, wGardens, you're welcome to check it out in person should you ever be in the smoky mountains. my favorite plants change from season to season but i do have some that i simply can't live without. contact me thru my near dead blog that i never update because i have no time. you can find the address in my profile, just click my name and you'll find it
    have fun!

  30. bee1nine 07/09/2013

    Hi Jeff, Sorry for the late post, but must agree with every
    one on how nicely your flagstone patio is turning out!
    Enjoyed capturing all the fun cast-off stuff placed about in
    your garden and that your not afraid to add potted plants of
    various kinds in among the garden, too! It made me smile to know I'm not alone!! Thanks Jeff!!:)

  31. janetsfolly 07/09/2013

    Hi, Jeff, I'm late in seeing this, too, but have to say...what fun! I think my favorite is the piggy weathervane but I'm going to go dig around in the barn for some cultivator parts. My trouble is my SO keeps hauling 'junk' to the dump before I can rescue it! I'm on the iPad this AM only because we had another 3.75" in the gauge and I'm too depressed to even go outside.
    We laid a flagstone walk last summer using much smaller stones so I could manage them so I can feel your pain. The result is well worth it, though. You have a beautiful retreat in the making!

  32. janeeliz 07/10/2013

    What fun, Jeff!!! Those cultivator discs are the coolest! You are starting a new fad, I think! I can't imagine all the work that must have been involved in creating your amazing patio...Great contrast in your plants.

  33. Meelianthus 08/23/2013

    Love your patio and the beautiful pastoral view encompassing it. What a tremendous amount of work! and so masterfully done. A lovely and very serene setting.

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