Friday, May 18, 2012

HGTV Green Home 2012 Tour, Continued

I've shared details of the interior of the HGTV Green Home at Serenbe, so now I thought I would let you see the outdoors and surrounding area.  No doubt you are wondering what that odd-looking chair is all about -- so are we!  It is on the empty lot to the south of the Green Home and we think it is some sort of outdoor art project.  The chair is covered in wire mesh and there is moss growing on it as well as that fern.  It actually blends in quite well with the green space surrounding it and I don't think it is permanent since the lot will eventually be sold, but it is an example of the rather unique and intriguing approach to life found at Serenbe, where creativity and thinking outside the box are encouraged!

The landscaping around the Green Home is slightly more conventional and quite attractive:

My husband loved the fact that blueberry-laden bushes were planted in abundance along the sidewalks!  Apparently in the Grange development, which is focused around agriculture, landscaping options include a lot of edible plants such as blueberry bushes, peach trees, fig trees, and even pretty (if slightly out of focus) plum trees:

My husband also likes Oregon-grape (Mahonia aquifolium), which is not edible and not really a grape but is one of the foundation plantings at the front of the Green Home:

Flowering plants were just beginning to put on a display:

Daylily (Hemerocallis sp.)

Wonderfully fragrant gardenias

Perennial bachelor's button (Centaurea sp.) growing along the Green Home bioswale

A magnolia blossom, also wonderfully fragrant

The landscaping at the front and sides of each lot is installed and totally maintained by the community.  Lawns are not permitted, but there is a list of plantings from which each homeowner can choose, so if, for example, you wanted to have all blueberry bushes surrounding your home that would be possible.  Someone else does all the work and you get to reap the rewards -- it doesn't get much better than that!  You can also opt to fence off all or part of the side yards and maintain them yourself if you wanted more control over your garden or wanted to have a fenced dog yard.  This development is very pet-friendly.  We were told that three dogs (the number we have) was perfectly fine, and even backyard hens are allowed, but no roosters for obvious reasons.

My husband and I took a stroll along the lake in the evening and really enjoyed it.  There were no biting insects at that time of day (about five o'clock), and the temperature was warm but not hot, with a light breeze and lots of shade to keep it cool.  You may remember that when we were there in February the lake was rather muddy-looking, but it has cleared up:

The lucky winner of the Green Home could enjoy this scenic stroll every day!  In fact, the view to the far south end of the lake shown in the second picture will remain undeveloped woodland, since no lots are to be built there (it is the spillway for the lake should water levels ever rise too much).  There is also a buffer zone between the lake and the houses built around it so there will be no homes built right up to the edge of the lake.

I mentioned in a previous post that on our last trip to Serenbe we learned that Bosch, the company that provided the energy-efficient appliances for the Green Home, was building two model homes just up the road from the Green Home.  They have made significant progress, and one of these homes (the white one in the first picture) should be ready for viewing in a matter of weeks:

Both houses have solar panel and geothermal energy sources, and the one in the first picture is a "net-zero house", which means net energy consumption is negligible or even negative (i.e., the home produces more energy than used!) -- good for both the environment and your wallet!

TOTO is a plumbing products manufacturer with a focus on green products; Ballard Designs is an Atlanta-based company specializing in European-inspired home furnishings; McKinney & Son Builders is a local award-winning company that has built a number of eco-friendly homes in Serenbe

The Bosch Net Zero Home is right next to the Grange retail area.  Building of this retail area is also well underway.  Set to open soon, Fern's Market will be Serenbe's food market and general store, offering "food and goods produced in an environmentally sound and socially conscious manner":

The space right next to Fern's Market will house the Bosch Experience Center, which will showcase all of Bosch's energy-efficient and sustainable home products.  It is intended to be a hub where all interested groups can learn about the Bosch products, but it will also be a local attraction for Serenbe residents in particular, since the kitchen in the center will be used to host celebrity chef cooking classes!

A second retail space will be built behind this one, with plans for a pub-style restaurant featuring a celebrity chef on one floor and a gym and yoga studio on another.  Still in the planning stage is an organic produce store adjacent to Serenbe Farms which may also sell other items such as pet foods.  The Grange subdivision seems to be growing steadily, and it is exciting to see this growth taking place!

Finally, I got to go on a trail ride while we were there, and I just wanted to say that I had a great time!  The weather was perfect, the group size was just right, and the horses were fun to ride.  The trails had good footing and took us through mostly wooded areas.  We even passed a small waterfall, but it was too dark in that area to get a picture.  We did end up in a lush meadow where we were able to let our horses move out a little faster:

A beautiful meadow,

a pretty Palomino,

and Spice, my sweet horse for the day!

Our overnight stay at the The Inn at Serenbe could not have been better and our room was spacious, light, and airy (although we did have to master the slightly temperamental shower fixture and overcome our own technology limitations to win the battle with the satellite TV!).  Dinner at The Farmhouse restaurant was excellent.  The picturesque inn is a popular place for weddings, and there was a wedding on the grounds the day after we arrived.  The visit truly was a mini-vacation for us.  Everything from the Green Home tour to our stay at the Inn to my trail ride the next day added up to a very pleasurable experience -- I am ready to do it again!

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