Making a move to renovate a landscape usually begins with some fairly compelling idea. Who would take on the mess and expense, unless there is some imagined outcome that will make for a decidedly better experience? As much as my daily routine has to do with tearing up people’s yards and putting them back together in some other way, I personally find change to be unsettling and difficult. Maintaining the status quo has its attraction. I am likely to dig in my heels, and hang back until something throws me in another direction. An appreciation and interest in the out of doors was a given for this client, but other issues were getting some play.
She had raised three girls, and was toying with the idea of moving to a smaller place, and making some time for travel. Her decision about an outcome had to do with a few basic things. She could not imagine a place she would like better than the one she already owned free and clear. She had already spent a lot of time and trouble furnishing the inside of the house to suit herself. In the end, she decided to stay where she was, and create a beautiful space outdoors that would make her feel like she was on vacation. She is very happy with her own private vacation spot-I attribute that to her clear idea of what she wanted from her landscape. �
Everyone’s defining landscape decision is different. Every committed gardener asks for something individual from their garden. The important thing is to think through what it is you need and want before a shovel goes in the ground. Figuring out what you really want is not always so easy. I might in casual conversation say I want vast perennial borders, but in truth I do not. I work on perennial borders every day. What I want when I go home is peace, quiet, and order. My landscape has lots of evergreens; they are very low maintenance and are beautiful all year long. My container gardening is a foil for all of that-each one gets a new outfit every year. They are my idea of fun.
Susie’s pots are bold in color and form. All of that resort style turquoise blue water asks for a strong color statement. She enjoys taking care of her pots as much as she likes swimming in the pool. The care of the pots is an everday pleasure, not a burden.
Our late June and early July have been scorchingly hot. The annual and tropical plants thrive in that heat much better than I do. Susie is poolside every day, enjoying the weather as much as her plants do. I can tell at a glance that they get daily care. Anyone lacking the drive or time to look after containers every day can still be successful with them. The installation of automatic watering and the planting of drought resistant plants can go a long way to help with the maintenance. A care plan is as important as the design.
Three of her steel boxes have boxwood in them that live there all year round. The variegated licorice thrives on the boxwood watering schedule. She does see this particular spot looking out the window in winter. There is always something there for her to see.
A pair of Belgian boxes were moved to the driveway. She not only sees those boxes coming and going, she can see them from a window in her living room. My guess is that we will fill this box with something good looking for the winter months.
The dining table bakes in the sun all day long; the trailing verbena Lavender Star thrives in this environment. The yellow glazed pot from Cliousclat in France, and that lavender provide a lot of color in a very small space.
The apple espalier is now on its 4th year, living in a large steel box. I had my doubts that it would live over the winter with its roots above ground, but she was willing to risk it. It is doing well enough that we need to install another wire up top, to keep the branches growing vertically. An espalier grown in a heart shape-we both fell for it.
This pool yard would be every bit as beautiful without the container gardens, but such a landscape would not suit my client. She truly enjoys making plants grow. The responsibility is great, but the rewards for her are greater.