In the sea of beige that is my yard each winter, I have been desperate to make some changes that will bring year round color and interest to this space. I'm guessing I'm not alone in my dislike of this baren stretch of time, where the leaves have fallen and everything looks dreary, because I have been noticing quite a few new plant varieties pop up in the garden centers around town, that aim to solve for this. I am determined to add varieties of trees, shrubs and plants to my yard that are evergreen, whenever possible, so that my privacy screen doesn't dissapear each winter and my beautiful yard doesn't look dead and dormant. Imagine my joy at finding some of my faves offered in an evergreen variety! To have my plants be green all year round no longer means I must go without flowering, vining, and beautiful varieties and I am no longer resigned to alternate between the different colors of shrub to gain that interest I am seeking in my landscape.
Many of the plants are now also water-wise, even more hardy and able to withstand full sun as well as those colder temps in the winter. For our climate this opens up our options quite a bit since it doesn't snow here in the winter but we occasionally get frost and this obliterates a great many of my flowering, sensitive beauties each year… hibiscus – I'm looking at you doll.
Because I want it all and I don't want to sacrifice anything in order to have what I want.
So I have set out to tackle each area of my yard, little by little. Most of my yard has extreme heat and sun to contend with, but my courtyard has 2 planters that get a bit of shade and naturally I am over the moon about having this little slice where I get to plant the good stuff. Seems like most of the lush and beautiful things I love most, don't prefer to bake at 105 degrees from sun up till sun down, for several months of the year – go figure…
This is what I started with… it was wild and unruly after an irrigation leak and subsequent repair, an entire tree worth of fallen leaves, weeds, and all that beige.
THE PLANNING PROCESS //
// When I plan my plantings, I like to have each section stand on it's own while it remains part of the greater whole, so I try to infuse each individual area with it's own mixture of color, texture and type.
// I will generally carry the design vertically in addition to adding interest at ground level so for each section I go for a nice high / low mix – which in this case has nothing to do with cost and everything to do with location, location, location.
// I tend to choose a contrasting mix of colors to give each area the most bang for it's buck. My tendency is to work with foliage in shades of burgundy, dark green, variegated yellow green, and a pale silvery sage.
// I also mix texture and foliage type and find that a nice mix of large and leafy, grassy or blade-like, and soft and delicate leaves to be most appealing to me.
// I think each section should have it's showstopper, for me this is usually some spectacular variety of flowering beauty or an extremely unique plant type that commands attention in some way, shape, or form.
To deal with that beige wall that is so prominent and to hide the drain I chose a vining, dark leaved, evergreen clematis to live in this vertical space and bring an organic feel to it with it's wild growth pattern. I did a serious little happy dance at the nursery when I found that baby since all of my other vining plants lose their leaves in the winter. I chose two variegated winter daphne that will grow to a substantial mid range height of around 4 feet by 4 feet and will provide a gorgeous back drop for the double peony I chose to make my showstopper.
I will generally lay them out to get a sense of placement and so I can set up the drip line and keep everything watered properly once I forget about them all.
I often mix the leaves right into the soil to ammend it and give it some good organic matter and I did that here during the planting process. I will generally just turn the soil all throughout an area I'm planting and turn any of the decomposing leaves and mulch right into the mix. This is particularly helpful when your soil isn't grade A top soil with tons of nutrients and replacing all or most of your existing top soil isn't quite in the budget. I raked aside a decent amount of the remaining organic matter and I will use it to ammend the soil in another more derelict portion of my yard that currently does a pretty good job of suffocating my plants, it is becoming dire.
All that is left is some additional cleanup and a good solid layer of mulch to keep the girls happy, and then I can move on to the next spot!
So tell me, how does your garden grow? Do you like a wild organic mix with lots of contrast or do you like a minimal and calming design? What are some of your favorite plants to add to your landscape? I'm very much still learning what works best here and what the elements will croak on contact, so I would love to hear your tips and tricks.
This project was created in partnership with Monrovia, the Horticultural Craftsmen who are creating these amazing hybrids I love so much. Thank you all for supporting the brands that help bring new and fresh content to The Design Confidential… my no longer dreary spot in the courtyard thanks you!