Rooted Landscaping was recently asked to offer a design for a patio garden. Upon visiting the patio in full daylight glory, I immediately (& excitedly) conceived of a mediterranean-inspired garden of tall, glazed ceramic pots over-flowing with espalier trees and fragrant herbs. The stucco and brick automatically reminded me of cliff-side dwellings and rosemary breezes.
I requested photos taken throughout the day so I could get a handle on how much sunlight actually reaches the patio.
Oh. Not so much.
I tried to reconcile this reality with what I remembered visiting. It occurred to me-- there is full sun in the middle of the patio but most of the edges stay shaded.
We were looking to create something lush and low-maintenance, and now primarily working with shade. I went back to the drawing board. Obviously, we need some height and some recurring themes to pull the area together. The wire furniture made me think about wrought iron hooks for hanging baskets and wrought iron trough window boxes.
Upon further inspection I realized that one wall did get more sunlight. The espalier design sticks! A fig tree steps away from the kitchen.
Given that this is an entry way to the home and a home office, I still wanted fragrance. More sun arrives by the front steps. We decided potted rosemary should go there. It's perfect to trail your fingers through or dab a little behind your wrists. A little scented sigh as you enter the space.
(Years ago someone planted rosemary behind the yoga studio where I teach. It's become perennial. Everyone loves pressing some of the herb behind their wrists as they walk in for class.)
I hunted and found some great big ceramic pots at HomeGoods on the cheap! To cut costs, we transplanted some cuttings of rosemary from the vegetable garden we'd installed previously. We added some trailing sweet potato vine & some flowers to add color with scent as you enter.
We decided to center window boxes on the brick wall. The patio needed height and some wall cover to feel more lush. Not that it was easy anywhere, but affixing window boxes to only brick as opposed to brick & stucco simplified the process, made the boxes more secure, & is visually appealing.
A lot of the existing furniture had sentimental value. That bench is over a 100 years old! We moved it under the low wall and surrounded it with herbs. Rosemary as you first step onto the patio, mint behind, and basil on the other side of the bench. Sitting on the bench you're surrounded by fresh scents. Also, the kitchen is steps away. Another nearby planter has chives. Plenty of flavors to incorporate into dishes-- all without getting your feet dirty!
The planters will be mainly shaded so we chose fuscia on top for height and drama, lots of variegated and traditional wandering jew, and several varieties of coleus.
There are hanging baskets throughout the patio, tying together to give it a "room" feel. In the corner nearest the kitchen we installed a simple, Eastern-influenced fountain. The bamboo fountain offers the sound of soothing running water on the patio or in the home if the window is open.
We used existing pots to house these gardenias. I pulled them further from the door to be sure they got rain when it falls!
A repurposed wine cart & fountain are now planters to more shade plants. We chose similar varieties to the window basket plantings to create continuity.
Piece de resistance! My favorite. This wall does get full sun & it's south-facing & it has wind-barrier! Text-book perfect conditions for a fig tree! I found a black turkey fig at Greensgrow and brought that bad boy over. Kevin built the trellis to begin training the fig towards espalier, so that the tree won't enter too far towards the center of the patio. Rather, it will go broad, offering cover for the blank wall, fruit, and enchantment.
Training branches. Wouldn't you want to take your morning coffee gazing at a fig tree? Makes me want to read Homer.
Planted on a rainy day (happily, for the plants). Stay tuned as the patio receives the full glory of summer sun!