Pink Flamingos, anyone?

Much to my husband's shame, our back garden sports several landscaping details more commonly found outside rural doublewides than in our historic neighborhood. A lovely, green wire fence anchored by lovely, green metal stakes (I did have the good taste to spray paint the formerly white upper third the same green as the lower two-thirds) encloses our little plot of land. A metal farm gate (in the same lovely shade of green) hangs across the driveway, and latched with a bit of chain, it bars unwanted guests from the same little plot of land.

I am to blame. I believe that if you can't conceive of, afford, or find the perfect thing, you should wait until you do. Never one to substitute for what I really want with lesser quality, my walls will stand naked until I can afford a masterpiece and I will lean against the wall as I sit reading in my bed until I find the perfect headboard.

Sometimes necessity forces me to live with things I would rather not. For instance, I am perfectly willing to sit the television on a folding card table in the living room until I find a better place for it-at least it gives the appearance of being temporary. Which is exactly how we ended up with all of these trashy looking garden accessories. We had to have a fence-our dog found a friend (judging by the frequency of his escapes, this was a high-maintenance canine with rather loose morals) and was getting out two and three times a day to be with her. Occasionally he came home on his own, but usually he was returned by sometimes kind and sometimes irritated neighbors and more than once by the Transylvania police, who now know him by name and have our number memorized.

So, we had to have a fence. It had to be transparent because while our yard is small it backs up to a charming miniature meadow with woods beyond it and we didn't want to lose the view.

We consulted a landscape architect to design a plan for the garden, which would include a fence, and while he developed a beautiful plan for the garden, he didn't have much to say about the fence. He showed us some pictures of different wood plank designs and some with lattice, but none of them were right. So, we put up the wire fence one day two years ago and have lived with it.

But we haven't liked it, so we are constantly looking at gardens and landscaping books and magazines, hoping to find just the right thing. Periodically my husband will call from his car, "I just passed a gate you might like"-then he will give me the address so I can see it.

Not for lack of effort, we have never found anything to replace the wire fence. Until the day I saw Michael Breeding's fence around his back garden on the corner of High Street and Madison Place. While visible from High Street, the fence is best viewed from the back door. A courtyard surrounded by nine-foot frames of large-scale lattice sits between six-by-six posts topped by large ball-shaped finials feels quiet and serene despite being just a few feet from High Street.

I'm not sure why, but I tried to downplay my excitement as Michael continued the tour of his house by walking down the back stairs thinking that he would show me the rest of his garden.

"So, uh, who built your fence?" I asked nonchalantly, pen poised in hand. I guess I thought he would be reluctant to give up his source. He graciously informed me who had built the fence, and volunteered that he did much of the work in the house. Then he admitted that he too loved the fence and practically gushed as he touted his work.

The interesting, functional, well-designed and well-built fence with its attention to detail is emblematic of the house and its restoration.

Michael has taken a Victorian era house that was, in his words, "deplorable" and brought it back to life as a functioning 21st century home. Details from the past, such as the restored original decorative painting of the parlor compliment the charming master bedroom suite with its large modern bathroom.

Unlike my house where we may live to old age without headboards and curtains, at Michael's house everything that could have been repaired, restored, or built, has been and, like the fence, all of it done with the attention to detail the house deserves.


303 Madison Place

Offered at $325,000

3,357 square feet

two full baths, five fireplaces, and potentially 3-4 bedrooms,
one office space and two parlors

Contact Mark Turnbow 244-3538

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.