It is sad to see how badly the gardens have deteriorated over the last 3 years. Especially last year, when I got back so late in the summer, that pretty much pushed them over the edge. There was so much hard work (and money) that went into planning these out and taking care of them year after year. After the landscapers mowed everything flat last year, most of the annuals did not come back. The strawberry patch is gone, and now the blackberries are almost gone too.
I managed to get in and fix most of the front yard last week, but I am seriously thinking of completely removing one of the big beds in the front. It looks like crap, and the little tree is about half dead. I might try and rebuild it but put in only two lilac bushes and tighten the perimeter so it is less work.
After 3 years of this I can say I at least have knowledge about what will last and what will not make it. The key to being successful with this arrangement of living in two countries (with the yard) is to use plants that are really durable and will not lose the battle with weeds. The mulberries are the worst, if they are allowed to take over it is almost impossible to get rid of them without completely removing everything and starting over.
This summer is going to require some work in the yard to make sure things hold up. But the barn/shed does look really good, and it seems to be really durable. I need to add sweeps and a bolt to the door, but other than that it is fine.