Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Garden as Theatre

A vase of white peonies dress up the trellised seating area

Generally I am not a huge fan of perimeter planting where the garden follows its way around the outer edge of a piece of property. 

It not that there is anything wrong with this type of layout. It's just that there are so many other more interesting and creative approaches to garden design.

The garden I am about to show you would be an exception to this point of view. Here the well executed perimeter planting seems to work in perfect concert with the formal style of the design. 

The fenced-in area between the house and garage.

This garden is a side yard rather than a backyard, but the same approach could easily be taken in a backyard.

Between the house and garage is a private walkway that the owner has transformed into narrow courtyard complete with a patio table and chairs. 

The walkway leads you around the back of the garage to a seating area with a large overhead trellis. 

It is from this vantage point that you get your first glimpse of the garden that stretches out in front of you. Here is a very rough plan of the garden:

Sitting comfortably in the wicker chairs and looking out at the flowers in bloom, listening to the water splash in the fountain, watching the bees flit amongst the flowers seems almost like a bit of garden theatre. 

Certainly, watching the coming and goings of insects and birds must provide hours of relaxing entertainment.

And after you have sipped your morning coffee and want to stroll into the garden to better appreciate what's in bloom, there is a path the leads you all the way around the garden.

These first two images were taken in May when pink tulips were flowering. Clematis vines have just started to make their way up a number of supports that run the length of the fence.

Here we are in June. 

The Clematis have come on strong and are almost hiding the wood fence. There is even a Clematis flower or two.

Gorgeous pink peonies have replaced the tulips.

Opposite the peonies there are more pink flowers. This time it is the tall spires of pink Lupins.

Briefly on growing Lupins:

Lupins do best in well-drained, slightly acidic soil that is on the moist side. They will tolerate average or sandy soil, but dislike clay soil. Plant them in full sun. 
Lupins will sometimes fail to come back a second year, so to maintain the vigour of your Lupin deadhead it once it flowers to prevent it from going to seed. 

Growing Lupins from Seed:
If you want to grow lupins from seed, direct sow them into the ground in the fall. Lupins sown in spring will need cold stratification (a short period of time simulating cold, wintery conditions. Put lupin seeds in a ziplock bag and place them in the refrigerator for approximately 7 days).  Just before you sow them, soak them overnight in lukewarm water. Sow the seed shallowly (about 1/8" deep).

Lupins have long, fragile taproots that don't take kindly to being transplanted. For this reason, it is a good idea to grow them in peat pots.

The pathway leads all the way back to the cool comfort of the shade.

In the corner, there is a small terra cotta fireplace for cool evenings.

Here warm June days have also brought out the first pink roses which climb their way up
 the trellis supports of the seating area.

One of the things I like best about this garden's design is that it's laid out in a way that really enhances the owner's ability to enjoy her garden. 

And isn't pleasure what gardening should be all about?


  1. We are in the throes of planning a garden at our new-old house. It's a 1927 house, and while I'm sure that someone, at some time, had a garden here, there is no evidence of that now, beyond an enormous English Laurel hedge and a water source near an old and broken patio. The backyard faces east, so there is early sun and it is a lovely place to sit in the heat of a summer afternoon. There are some really good ideas in your photos - I look forward to sharing them with my husband.

  2. This really is a lovely garden, Jennifer.
    Beautiful colors, and I love the roses on the trellis.
    White peonies are one of my favorite summer flowers.

  3. A pretty little garden Jennifer, well tended with a soft palette of colours. It is apparent that some thought has gone into the design for ease of access - lots of ideas to inspire.

  4. Absolutely glorious garden! I want a pergola like that!!!!!!!!!

  5. I agree with you, this garden really works, it's absolutely lovely!xxx

  6. I like having a patch of green in the middle of the garden as a spot to rest the eyes. I've read that it's both pedestrian and classic but if it works, it works. The garden above is beautiful!

  7. Stunning! But you never disappoint when you share the gardens you visit.

  8. I remember this garden, and you've captured it well. With miraculously few people in it! The blue glass with the white peonies is a winning combination.

  9. Gorgeous garden, Jennifer. I love this path that leads around the garden. I think you can watch a garden in different ways, it's interesting idea.

  10. I love the peonies and the lupines! The owners have done an excellent job combining plants and hardscape.

  11. It's formal, and yet easy to maintain. You also don't need a pile of flowers to make a show. And, you're right making a garden to suit yourself is the only way to go!


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