A few years ago I drew a rough drawing of a garden area for my in-laws. They had just built their new house and were excited to fill the landscaping in with something they would enjoy. What I came up with was a sitting garden. Essentially an area where they could go outside and relax while watching the garden or just enjoying the outdoors. I put two elements into the plan that I think are necessary in every garden: an observation point (in this case a spot to sit) and a pathway. I think when you have those elements in mind you can build the garden around it. In the beginning what they had as an aggregate sidewalk that stretched form the driveway to their front steps which subdivided this are from the rest of the yard and made for a perfect region for a garden.
The site had a couple major issues. The first issue was the soil itself. The ground (as it is in many areas of Tennessee) was all clay and limestone and caused the second issue drainage. The clay held the water in the area and the sidewalk created a dam that prevented the rainwater runoff from the house to escape. Eventually they had to remove an area of the sidewalk and install a drainage pipe underneath which helped out immensely. The only thing that can be done with clay soil is amend. Over the last few years mulch has been added which eventually breaks down and improves the soil. Things are much better now but still mostly clay and limestone!
As of this past June here's how the sitting garden looks.
A river pebble walkway with stepping stones leads you to the sitting area. As you walk the pathway two yuccas flank the sitting area entry. The walkway is bordered with natural stone from the area.
The white metal bench stands out underneath two crape myrtle trees. The crape myrtles were planted to provide fast growing shade for the sitting area. The holly to the left and foundation plantings along the house were part of the general landscaping the builder put together.
A 'Jane' Magnolia brightens up the area in the spring. Daylilies do the job in summer. The perennial area in front hasn't quite filled in yet but will over time. Once the drainage issues were solved it made the area much better for planting.
The dwarf boxwood hedge has come a long way from its initial installation. Inside the hedge is lavender, daylilies, Shasta daisies, and coreopsis.
Here's a quick view of the front garden area from the stairs.
When I designed the area I made a general plan and offered some planting suggestions but other things have been added and replaced over the years. The garden changes to suit its owners, just as it should!
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Thursday, January 6, 2011
A Sitting Garden in Summer
Dave is the author of Growing The Home Garden and runs a small nursery business growing vegetables and herbs for local customers in Spring Hill, TN. (Blue Shed Gardens or FB page). He has written for gardening publications, Troy-Bilt and Lowe's and is available for edible garden consulting. Dave gardens organically and when he isn't writing, collecting seeds, or propagating plants he's parenting his 4 children as a stay at home dad.