Ten years ago Brian, my husband and I moved into my third home as a landscape designer. We chose this home for a number of reasons: it is within a half mile of the light rail so Brian does not have to drive to work, it is close to family and friends, and it had a pleasant but boring garden that I could rip out and replace with my own creation.
The house has an interestingly shaped back yard. It is 25 feet deep and 80 feet wide. It looked like a bowling alley. I decided the only solution was to break it up into two gardens by building the sunroom I’ve always wanted. Brian suggested we remodel the kitchen and add hard wood floors while we were at it. We had all that complete after our first spring. The new sunroom serves as a breakfast room, a dining room and an open air pavilion. It is 12’ x 12’, has 5’ French doors on either side and large windows on the end that gaze upon a fountain, featuring my bronze children. It has heated slate tile floor and can be closed up snug as a button or opened up to fresh air and breezes.
We also lopped off the last 12’ of the entire yard so we could add RV parking and a driveway along the north property line. With those two subtractions we created a 35’ x 25’ Italian garden and a 20’ x 40’ English garden.
The Italian garden is defined more by its hardscapes than its plant material. We used multi-sized concrete blocks to build raised beds against the house and the south and west fences. The sunroom provides the other wall for the sunken gravel garden that is outlined with the beds. We added wood arbors to the house and the sunroom to provide shade and visual interest. An herb garden is planted in the east bed. The southwest bed contains an Italian fountain, two preexisting linden trees and a number of beautiful shade loving plants. The west bed contains a southern magnolia, and many colorful shrubs and perennials.
The English garden is defined by its traditional plant material and soft cool colors. Its crowning glory is a large arbor that separates it from the RV parking. It also features a tiled birdbath and beds that are built up in back with blocks to provide drainage, but slopes gently towards the front of the bed for a natural look. It sports roses, viburnum, camellias, clematis, and many other shrubs and perennials. It’s a small space but packs in lots of color and texture.
The transition between the two gardens is the walkway, fountain, and bed between the fence and the sunroom. It has a personality all its own that melds well with both the English garden and the Italian garden.
The front garden is really three gardens. The main garden is New American, which means it utilized asymmetrical balance with bold colors and textures. It features raised beds made with the same concrete blocks used in the back yard. The plant material is selected to provide four season interest with leaf color and texture playing a major roll in the design.
The north side garden is a transition shade garden. It still features four seasons of color and textures but it transitions into the more subdued English garden. The border along the south side of the house is a working garden. Five large blueberries and three cherry tomatoes are grown there with the help of the reflected sun off the south wall. The front border between our neighbor and our driveway is cut on a diagonal. Our neighbor wanted room to park their little sports car and I was happy to have more garden space, so we divided the space with a diagonal line that gave them more room in the back and us more room in the front. It blurs the property lines. That bed is full of large grasses, daylilies, lavender, and heat loving perennials because it gets sun all day.
The hell strip (the area between the sidewalk and street) hosts a flowering plum tree, daylilies, sedum and two flagstone landings for our guests. All the plants are drought tolerant and get watered once a week.
Andora Gardens continues to change each year as plants die and I fall in love with some new plant or idea. Keep following my blog and you’ll see it evolve.