After several years of making design and installation mistakes in my landscape, I have been asked to make them in someone else's garden.
I have been hired to design and plant the space around a new patio at a condo complex.
The dirt in front is a newly seeded grassy slope, or it was until storm Irene passed through and washed away all the seed and some of the mud. But that is condo common lawn that borders each unit's back patio, so it's not part of my design assignment.
The area I have been asked to plant is the narrow strip on the left, the slightly wider boxed garden on the right, and the areas deep under the overhanging deck.
The strip on the left is 2 feet wide and 11 feet long bordering the fence. The boxed garden is 3 1/2 feet wide. There is a lovely old rhododendron in the corner that is thankfully an architectural anchor plant to work with. The plastic kids toys decorating the A/C unit. . . well. Large blue tarps, maybe.
It's shady, both from the building itself and from tall pines overhanging the area. The area under the deck is deep shade.
The patio will be used as a play area for a toddler, an alternate entrance for coming and going through the lower level, and as something nice to look at from inside the condo. It's not really a sitting or barbequeing area, that's done on the deck above.
So, designers . . . what are the possibilities for shade plants in narrow strips? Fence hiders? A/C unit blockers? I think the client wants flowering things, but they have to be no-care, low care.
Under the deck where it is too deeply shady and dry, I am thinking river rocks and decorative hardscaping.
And what to plant here? There are struggling hostas and heucheras already, but they will perk up when I amend the soil. The deadish shrubs will come out. I can add astilbes and bergenia. But what for height? To hide the A/C?
And here? The fence needs something on it.
Just to be clear, the client who hired me is my sister, and my entire fees will amount to lunches served when I am over there. She promised me some excellent fish tacos.
This may be the start of a design and consulting career that will take off and make me reknowned and revered in the garden landscaping industry. Or not.
But I am loving the new (to me) challenge of gardening in shade, in a tiny space, with fence and hardscape all around. And I am flattered to be asked to do it.