January 7, 2011

Evolution of a View

I'm working this view.  I am creating, editing, repainting, coloring and generally fussing with how this side of my yard should look.  I'm not finished.  This area is evolving because my goals keep changing.  Here are the stages this view has been through so far.
in April 2009
Stage one: Hide it.
Originally I planted trees and shrubs simply to hide the utilities on this side of the house: the electric meter, two air conditioners, a faucet where the hoses lay tangled, a cellar bulkhead door, and ugly black waterproofing along the bottom of the foundation.  Dwarf Alberta spruces and vertical panicum grasses 'Northwind' act as a narrow fence in front of the a/c units (farther down the walk between the two fothergillas).

Second: Soften it.
Then I wanted something pretty and interesting to look at along the right side as you rounded to the back yard.  In spring of 2009 the deep magenta of the 'Oklahoma' redbud and the funny white bottlebrush blooms of two fothergillas are delicate and pretty.  Later I added groundcover Angelina sedums, lambs ear, and spilling hakone grasses at the feet of these woody plants, and that softened the edge of the stones and pavers.

Third: Enclose it.
I realized I could create a room, or a sense of enclosure by adding plants to the other side of the walk.  In summer it became a cool, somewhat shaded place to linger on the way to the back yard.  There's a real sense of entering this space.
in summer 2010

Fourth: Extend it.
As the walkway plants filled in, it became evident that the maple tree out in the yard in the distance beyond was drawing the eye.  It became a focal point, a far view as you wandered down the walkway garden.
in late summer, 2010

Fifth: Frame it.
Once I realized the maple was a focal point, I wanted to specifically frame that view by adding more plants toward the bend of the walk, drawing the eye.  Now it is not just a garden walkway next to a collection of plants, but a cohesive whole, a scene.  It has a destination.  There's even a hint of the unknown around the bend of the walk.
in early fall, 2010

Sixth: Celebrate it.
This view now pops.  I like it.  Grassy arches, fluffy flowering plants, spiky panicles, my rusted Relax sign, and hot red color beyond work together as a whole.  There is a tiny Stewartia monadelpha tree on the left side you can't even see yet, it's so small, but one day it will be a lovely vertical part of frame.
in November 2010
Seventh stage:
I don't know what the next stage of this view will be.  I have plans for more upright panicle hydrangeas, in a row along the left side just before the bend of the walk.  They will mirror the hydrangea on the right, rising to even more explicitly frame the view (too much?  am I overdoing it?)

Clearly the trees will mature and the whole look will be bigger and fuller and more enclosed.  And the maple in the distance will become a massive tree, which will change the view completely.  I like this walkway just as it is now and I like the view I see, but it's going to keep evolving.

That's what I like about gardening: it's artwork that keeps changing all the time.


  1. Laurrie - once again I'm blown away by how much you've accomplished in so little time. This bed is wonderful. Trees and beds are growing and evolving right before my eyes! I think you've hit on something every gardener must face, it never stops changing! As plants grow the view will change, others will die, new things will be added. It keeps things interesting and keeps us interested.

  2. Funny as I scrolled through to the last photo, I was reminded of a changing canvas and then saw your comment about artwork that constantly changes. It's the quality I think I favor most about gardening as I'm somewhat fickle!

  3. I like the frame it idea. I makes you want to walk down the path slowly to enjoy the plants along the way and take a peak at what's around the corner.

  4. The garden along the walkway and the view beyond are beautiful! In all seasons. You've succeeded wonderfully in combining color, heights and texturing and maintaining interest as you walk along the path.

  5. I think gardening is art too and your stages all are good design thinking. I love how it evolved and that you showed the stages too. You even included surprise at the end. Good work.

  6. Marguerite, thanks for the compliments! This garden truly is an everchanging space.

    Cat, I do think of the garden as a canvas to paint on sometimes.

    Joene, I am pleased at how this space makes me linger a little... and it was such an ugly strip of utility boxes before!

    Sweetbay, thanks so much. I do like the complexity that has developed along the walkway now.

    Donna, thanks -- I love the idea of gardening as art!

  7. Well done Laurrie. These plantings make me want to take a walk right down that path to see what else might be there.

  8. Beautiful, Laurrie! I've been skimming through gardening books to get some ideas for my new garden bed, and your walkway plantings are as lovely as anything I've seen. Plus, it has all the principles of the perfect garden--four-season color, the variation of shapes and sizes, and the focal point of the beautiful maple. You're truly an artist in the garden!

  9. Lisa, I'm so glad this garden makes people feel invited and welcomed and want to come down the path!

    Rose, thanks! I don't feel like I planned this walkway deliberately, as it emerged in stages, but when I see it now it does have the elements of interest you note. Thank you for your kind words : )

  10. You have a great gift for words. I love the sentence, "I am creating, editing, repainting, coloring and generally fussing with how this side of my yard should look." I enjoyed following through your garden design and layout process. One thing that I like about your garden is that there is no fence- a necessity here with the dogs. Without a fence, you get the possibility of a priceless, never ending vista. I think your plan to further frame the view sounds promising. Have a great weekend!

  11. Jennifer, I would love to have a fence... it's funny what one gardener sees as an advantage another sees as a problem! We can't have fences here (community restrictions) and I really want one as a backdrop for some of my gardens. Just a decorative fence, not one that surrounds the whole property, though. Neighbors with dogs here have to use the invisible electronic fence systems.

  12. And to think it all started because you had utilities to hide! Problems can be the catalyst for wonderful solutions, and you have illustrated this beautifully. I love the sense of enclosure, with a view out to the beautiful maple, and I love the colors and textures you have chosen.

  13. Wow, looking good! I am so impressed with how this is coming along. You really have the bones so all the evolution now will simply be enhancements. Well done! :)

  14. Thanks for visting my blog. :o)What a beautiful garden! I love that you consider it artwork. I've always felt that my garden was my canvas, more Jackson Pollock, less Monet, 100% me!!

  15. Deborah, You're right, it's the problem solving that leads to creative solutions, in the garden and elsewhere.

    Garden Ms. S, thanks so much. I hope I can keep it to enhancements now, and not overdo this space!

    TS, Many gardeners say they think of their gardens as artwork. Certainly great artists have always painted gardens!

  16. You definitely have an artist's eye and touch when it comes to creating a garden space. This section is just beautiful ... your posts are truly inspirational! You've opened up a whole new way for me to view my garden.

  17. Bernie, thank you! Blogging has opened lots of new ways to look at what everyone is creating and think about how to apply so many ideas in our own spaces.


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