Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Small Garden with the Blue Twig Sculpture

When it comes to design, this is a garden that gets it right in so many ways. 

It's all the little touches that make this front entrance so welcoming. There is even a pretty wreath on the door.

The yews and most of objects on either side of the front door are balanced symmetrical (the two black sconces, the two rectangular planter boxes filled with annuals), but there is just enough asymmetry to keep things interesting (the concrete fruit basket on a stand and large final on the porch).  

It's natural to want to dispense with the bother of mowing a lawn when your front yard is as small as this one. The challenge in replacing the grass is to make the plantings looks just as tidy and presentable as a lawn. 

Over the years I have seen as many unfortunate attempts at replacing a front lawn with a garden as I have seen success stories. It's hard to get it right. (I must see if I can do a post on the subject!) 

In this instance, the plantings have been keep somewhat formal. In the foreground, a box hedge frames a low expanse of pachysandra. Shading the pachysandra are a row (only one is visible in this photograph) of Ivory Silk Tree Lilac, Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk'. This is a fairly compact tree that has fragrant, creamy-white flowers in late spring or early summer. (Height: 20 ft, Spread: 14 ft. USDA zones:3-7).

To the right of the door is a novel sculpture that was created with can of blue spray paint.

Before we head into the backyard, let's stop to admire these pretty container plantings.

1. Pink Begonias 2. Impatiens 3. Purple Heart, Setcrsea purpurea (tender perennial or houseplant) 4. Coleus 5. Lobelia

The shady area at the side of the house has been kept low maintenance with a simple concrete walkway and a neat row of shade lovers that include hosta, Bleeding Heart (Dicentra), Solomon Seal (Polygonatum), Japanese Ferns (Anthyrium) and Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia).

As you move down the walkway and get closer to the backyard, growing conditions get a bit sunnier allowing for plants like the clematis that you see in the next images.

If you have a small garden, be on the lookout this spring for some of these newer varieties of clematis that reach a height of just four to six feet.

At the back of the house, a pergola shades the stone patio from the hot afternoon sun.

The homeowner has a gift for composing perfect little vignettes.

In the backyard, the fence has been stained charcoal, which sets off the fresh 
green of the plantings very nicely. 

1. Boxwood frames the flowerbed 2. Two fragrant lavender plants 3. A round boxwood 4. Making its way up the fence is a Climbing Hydrangea 5. Columnar Copper Beech

Hosta are planted right behind the birdbath.

Columnar Copper Beech

In a small garden, a columnar tree is a great way to add privacy over and above the separation that a simple fence provides. The growth of a columnar tree is narrow and upright, so you have privacy without the shade that a tree with a wider canopy would generate. 

Container plantings throughout the space add nice hits of color.

Plants here include: Japanese Maple, Hosta, a Hydrangea, Alliums, Solomon Seal 
Columnar Copper Beech and Climbing Hydrangea

In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as a low maintenance garden– just to water the containers in this garden each day would take a couple of hours, but with proper attention in the spring, I think most people would find the workload here very manageable. 

Spring Chores: Certainly you'd want to add a top dressing of leaf mold or compost each spring to keep the plants happy and healthy. The planting is fairly dense, so any weeds would have lots of competition. A generous covering of mulch would reduce the need to do any weeding even further. Other chores might include regular pruning, a bit of deadheading and of course you'd have to water when the garden gets really dry. All and all, the upkeep on a garden like this could be easily managed.

A pebble courtyard gives the garden a European feel. Blue fabric cushions and large blue pots make the garden feel fresh even on a hot day.

 Wouldn't this be the perfect place to spend a summer's afternoon?


  1. fabulous garden! I so can't wait for spring...

  2. It looks like so much thought and planning went into these lovely gardens, Jennifer.
    And obviously lots of love too.
    What they've done here is wonderful, and it's so nice to see that replacing a lawn, need not look like just a mess of weeds.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Have a wonderful evening.

    1. I think your right Lisa. Lots of thought went into this garden. Not everyone would like the formality of this front garden, but I don't think anyone would disagree with the fact that it was done really well.

  3. Lovely! The idea of 'painting' the dead branches is wonderful. It adds so much interest and quirky charm.

    1. I thought it was an interesting idea too. That bright blue color made the branches really stand out amongst the foliage.

  4. So very beautiful... thank you for the lovely time.


  5. It's all absolutely perfect, I love the replacement lawn in the front. I could never manage to keep a garden this tidy. I just love it all.xxx

  6. Wow....just WOW!...What a gorgeous garden! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Hello Jennifer girl ! I am still without my computer (thank goodness for Garden PA's computer, and he can play on his tablet while I do a fast cruise here , phew!)
    I am in love with this garden .. it is beautiful and so neat ( appeals especially to neat freaks I think ? LOL) .. the dark background with the charcoal coloured fence is perfect .. that shocking blue sculpture is eye candy .. the plants all seem so perfect in each situation .. I do have a hint for handling "wet" compost from a bag .. use your wheel barrow to mix the compost with some peat moss to dry it out a bit so it is easier to handle .. I found that our last year .. it really helps !
    Take care
    Joy : )

    1. Thanks for the tip for drying out bags of compost, Joy. They certainly can weigh a ton when they're wet and it's hard to spread the compost around when its saturated with water. Hope you get your computer issues sorted soon!

  8. Hi Jennifer. I'm new to your blog, but just starting a garden, so I'm loving all of the inspiration and tips! Could you share some of the garden plans? Or maybe just quick sketches? A lot of us new gardeners would appreciate that! I know you have shared the plans for some of the gardens, but it would be nice to see more of those.

    1. I will see what I can do. I have a great book for beginners that I hope to review shortly (with a giveaway draw). The book encourages new gardeners to tackle things one project at a time.


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