Garden vignettes are small areas of a larger garden that provide a single use or multiple functions, be it sipping a beverage and reading a book, critter or people watching, depending on the location of the vignette - front, side or back yard - enjoying a view or taking a nap. If all else fails, take a nap!
The above two photos show the gradual transformation of the entrance to a hillside garden from July to November. This area was the first sight upon cresting the stairs to a wood deck at the base of several terraces. Prior to the month of July it was a catch-all or a dumping ground for scrap wood, tools, disorganized toys, numerous objects and refuse. By simply removing the jumbled items and slowly relocating metal signs lying in a pile on the ground, metal garden art, and other miscellaneous elements with story-telling potential, garden visitors are now greeted with a scene that puts smiles on their faces.
Condominium Exterior Entryway Redo
The former planting of azaleas in this small space underneath the open riser concrete staircase, shown on the right in the first photo above, were removed. The azaleas were unable to produce abundant blooms in the low light conditions. The homeowners decided to dress up the area using giant clam shells and succulents that would survive in low light conditions such as Gasteria, Sansevieria, Haworthia, and Aloe hybrids. The above photos were taken on a rainy day. On a sunny day the area will receive brighter light due to the open riser staircase but never any direct sunlight.
The first photo shows the clam shells oriented on the diagonal with the hinged side forward-facing. The second photo shows the clam shells still oriented on the diagonal but turned to highlight the fluted edges. Positioning them in this manner will allow the Senecio rowleyanus, commonly known as String of Pearls, to cascade to the ground. The third and fourth photos were taken after the rock top dressing and existing clay soil were removed. The area was filled with fast draining soil with a high mineral content, crucial for the health of succulents.
The first photo above shows the start of the new fast draining soil being delivered. The second photo shows the space filled with the new soil, the clam shells in their final position and the first in-ground plant installed in the back corner, Sansevieria trifasciata 'Singer's Silver'. The third photo shows a fallen tree limb set in place to add height and interest to the installation. The fourth photo shows all in-ground plants installed and the clam shells planted.
The photo on the left above shows the final plant installation with Spanish Moss added to the cut ends on the smaller branches of the tree limb. The photo on the right above shows the finished installation with the rock top dressing back in place and the entire space lighted for nighttime drama.
Thank you so much for our lovely new garden. We truly are enjoying our new outlook when leaving the house. The light at night adds a lot too. Getting lots of compliments on the garden.
Back Deck Spruce Up
This project originated from the desire of the homeowner to enliven and refresh her back deck. She wanted an inviting and pleasing view when looking out the sliding glass door from the dining room. This was created by placing an outdoor area rug over the deck to bring color, texture, and softness to the space and to conceal the worn wood in need of refinishing. A happy surprise was revealed when the rug was in place. The colors echoed the colors in a stained glass window in the dining room visually pulling the two spaces together.
The next step in providing a welcoming view and destination was to rearrange the existing, mostly empty, pots in relationship to scale, style, shape, and color to know which plants to put in which pots to best feature the plant heights, growth habits, textures, and colors.
Pots to the Right of Deck Steps
The color of the burgundy Cordyline in the back pot echoes the magenta in the rug. The dwarf blue spruce in the left green pot echoes the silver blue in the rug. The bright green of the Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow' in the front right pot echoes the bright green in the rug.
Pots to the Left of Deck Steps
The burgundy Cordyline in the tall blue pot echoes the magenta in the rug as does the purple-leaved Loropetalum in the back right pot. The Adenanthos cuneatus ‘Coral Drift’ in the gold pot repeats more than one of the colors in the rug due to the silver blue-gray tinged leaves with a brighter green near the terminal ends of the stems tipped with a blush of rose. The bright green Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow' in the round terra cotta pot echoes the bright green in the rug and the Euphorbia characias 'Silver Swan’ repeats the silver blue in the rug. The existing plant in the square pot had sentimental value so was not replaced to conform with the palette.
After the completion of the project the homeowner expressed the following,
“I had no idea how glum things looked at the start. You are truly a marvel! You are amazing.”
1. Glum: [ɡləm]
glummer (comparative adjective) · glummest (superlative adjective)
1. looking or feeling dejected; morose.
mid 16th century: related to dialect glum ‘to frown’, variant of gloom.
Succulent Planted Retaining Wall
The following photos show progressive images of the transformation of a retaining wall planting that took place over a ten month period. The existing succulents had been set behind the landscape blocks and left in their original nursery pots for ten years. They never received any supplemental watering beyond winter rainfall. The backfill behind the landscape blocks was the existing native clay – not fast draining soil preferred by succulents. To create a habitat more conducive to the conditions that most succulents prefer, a fast-draining, mineral-based mix was added immediately behind the blocks to a depth of at least six inches. Next the succulents were removed from their pots and laid out in an alternating pattern highlighting their species growth habits – echeverias, aloes, and aeoniums. A few new succulents were purchased to add interest and were interspersed into the planting layout.
The above first two photos from top left, moving right, show the succulent wall prior to the start of the project. The next three photos were taken during the first work day. The following three photos were taken a number of months after the completion of the project. A decorative rock top dressing was applied to the surface of the soil to give the installation a finished look and to protect the succulent plant tissues from absorbing excessive amounts of moisture during winter rains. The bottom two photos are BEFORE and AFTER images.