Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Bigger View of a Smaller Garden, Part 2

Now that I've given a closer look at my back garden, let's take a revealing lap around the front garden, shall we? Here's the view through the gate my father built, which nicely frames Priscilla the Redbud. The volunteer poppy is charming, but will be removed soon (before it trips me!)

click any picture to enbiggen!

The closeup view looking up at the house focuses on this charming Moroccan Poppy (Papaver atlanticum 'Flore Pleno') in front of my scented pelargonium 'Fragrant Frosty.'

Pulling back you can see more of my salvage hardscape. Believe me, I would love a nice brick path and steps here. But for now I am pleased that, apart from the crushed rock filler, my walls, steps and paths are all made of materials I had on hand (or scrounged from family and friends!)

My old front walkway was jack-hammered out and used to build the retaining wall that levels the inner courtyard garden. More cobble from under my street trees is used as edging. My crooked sidewalk is unfortunate, but everything else works well together. The shrubs are Manzanita (Arctostaphylos bakeri 'Louis Edmunds') and Coast Rosemary (Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light'). The grasses are Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue') and Slender Veldt Grass (Pennisetum spathiolatum).

From this angle you can see how the wall follows the curve of the fence and divides the broad bed into two levels; this is a great way to add interest to an area that was formerly lawn, rather than maintaining the existing lawn grade. Here you can see one of the "mother plants" of my Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) and how the cobble adds a little finish to the sidewalk edge.

A young Fuyu persimmon and Green Globe artichokes are two of the edible plants found in the front garden. Purple Sea Lavender (Limonium perezii) self-sown California Poppies (Escholtzia californica) and Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) provide the main flower color in the outer garden. A wide swath of prostrate blue juniper (Juniperus horizontalis 'Icee Blue') at the sidewalk will keep the view around the corner clear.

A nice vignette of (from front) Yucca variegata, Lemon thyme, Aeonium, Limonium, Green Senecio and California Poppies; can you say water-wise AND pretty?

Pulling back you can see that we've come nearly full circle. A gentle berm along the driveway path adds dimension and a bit of enclosure. The tiny tree is a Dancy tangerine.

Let's pause in remembrance of my former lawn (which I kind of liked when it was gold) and my old front walk, which became the wall. Here's what it looked like two years ago.

One year after installation. The circular fence and the fountain anchor a really nice space. The semi-circular thyme path is just coming into bloom and may just continue right across the front walk, which still needs a final top-dressing of brown gravel. Someday it will be brick...

And you'll notice those same orange poppies in front of the lemon tree; the circle is complete. Some have compared my garden layout to a Mandala. Exactly.

As we approach the porch, don't trip over the official 'greeter.'

And here's the spot from which much of this garden was conceived, and that I can now enjoy with some privacy!

Views from the porch: I'm in love with this combination of poppies and feather grass under the tangerine tree.

Pulling back, the poppies are now framed by the robust red branches of my young Arbutus 'Marina.'

Back further, and here is the view from my chair. No longer a fishbowl at a suburban intersection, but a real place of refuge. Thanks for joining me on this journey around my garden, I hope you'll come back as it grows!


  1. Truly lovely, Laura, and hard-working too. I also really like your sitting area with the shelf of potted plants. It's so inviting.

  2. Thanks, Pam! The original shelf stuck out farther, making the sitting area rather awkward. We reduced the size of the supports, and used one of my old porch posts for the shelf planks; no one knocks their noggin any more! Thanks for visiting...

  3. Love the textures and the colours. The fantastic purple and orange. And the artichokes! Also really love the way you've used your salvage and made it look brand new by using it in different ways. Plus what can beat a relaxed pussycat in a garden?

  4. My,my how hard you have worked and what a fab result. Love your garden and BTW I didn't trip over the official greeter as I can spot those a mile off. ;-)

  5. @Sarah, thanks! My budget for this garden was extremely tiny; my dad and I built most of it, with a little contractor help where needed. I've always loved working with what I've got; the result is always unique!

    @Yolanda I'm sure for you he would do his best back-roll four paws in the air greeting (he's not shy!) Cats do love them some gravel!

  6. I like your garden, very elegantly designed! Also, it's all the more special that you did the work mostly yourself.

  7. You've done wonders with your garden. Love the colours and the textures. Your dad built a wonderful gate. Love your refuge corner. A beautiful garden.

  8. @Crystal, YES I learned a lot about myself as a designer AND a gardener (and a daughter!) doing this project with my dad, who also built the beautiful fence.

    @Kate, thanks! That corner is great, especially in winter when it captures the sun!

    @Katie, thanks! Next time you're in CA you better visit!

  9. Your garden looks great Laura. Lots of beautiful color and textures! I will come by and have a look!

  10. It looks so inviting. I particularly like the photo taken from near the driveway. Haku is of course the perfect greeter. :-)

    That Moroccan poppy is rocking the frilly orange. Is it one of Elayne's presents?

  11. Laura it is SO beautiful & harmonious - I love how it flows. I also really like your path just how it is. Thanks for putting in names of plants too, that's so very helpful to forgetful types like myself who struggle to identify their children's friends let alone plant names :o)

  12. Your garden is incredibly beautiful Laura.

  13. @Dale, thanks my friend, you had a lot to do with my gardens being done right!

    @Apel, Haku takes his greeter responsibilities very seriously, as you well know. And yes, frilly orange poppy is from Annie's Annuals!

    @Jane, Thank you, I like to know the names of things!

    @Elra, Thanks for visiting; it's wonderful being able to share what I do with so many people...

  14. Wow! Beautiful garden! Your Before photo is shocking (shockingly like my current front yard in the summertime). What a gorgeous transformation. And you jackhammered out your concrete walkway and used it for a retaining wall? Noted. That is genius. It's now on my To Do list. Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Your Garden is beautiful... the poppies are to die. Fabulous textures and play with color in this images. Your 'greeter' is just Purfect!