Awesome idea from the April ish of Canadian Gardening: a circular patio, with garden beds around it divided up by paths like spokes of a wheel. This way there is a nice spot to sit and enjoy the garden, beds of manageable size, access to weed everything, and beds that can be viewed on three of four sides. Dammit, I should have taken masonry instead of carpentry. I could be doing my own hardscaping. Paying to have someone lay something down like that beautiful spiral of cobblestone would probably be insanely expensive.
Further awesome idea: "underplant[ing a tree], in the style of an English cottage garden, with...spring bulbs of every colour." I spy a use for the ground around the white pine out back, yes I do. In fact, sometime this week I am going to march out there and stick my tulips in the ground, since the snow is off the back of the yard. I figure since I did leave them outside over the winter there is the remotest chance they might come up, although I doubt they'd have frozen as hard in the ground as they did sitting in the carport.
Also inspiring from said magazine is that the gardens featured that aren't professionally designed and planted are typically the product of 20-odd years' work. So it's no tragedy that my gardens have not looked like that. My mom has remarked that it takes 10 years for a garden to really "arrive". And the idea of spending 20 years on the same garden is oddly appealing, despite my typical impatience. After all, you do get gratification year after year in between.