It has been two years since I made a number of significant changes to this garden, and I thought this would be a good time to look back with a series of “before and after” pictures.
I’ll start today with the area I call the “upper lawn” — just in front of the terrace off the front door.
This space — photographed in the fall of 2011 — used to be composed of (left to right) 3′ to 4′ high sheared shrubs, a grass path, and a second border of shrubs and perennials. Further to the right was/is a stone retaining wall (just visible in the foreground above), another planting bed about 3′ below, and then another stone retaining wall.
Bright green 8′ to 9′ Heliconia rostrata or lobster claws were growing in the lower planting bed between the two walls, on either side of the center steps that lead to the “lower lawn.”
It was all very pretty, but with some important problems.
The tall Heliconia created a wall of large foliage right in front of what should have been a wide view from the front door.
The grass path was not really wide enough to be a good seating area, as you can see from this picture of the aftermath of a rather messy large lunch event. The chairs had to be lined up, and the large bushes on either side created a tunnel effect.
The primary practical goals for the upper lawn were to expand our room for entertaining and open up the very good views of the city and hills on the west side of the property (the house is near the top of a ridge).
The pictures above and below were taken at the end of last month.
I did consider leaving the rather romantic vines on the columns — shown above in the fall of 2011. But they only gave us a few flowers at a time, and, on the terrace side, they were mostly a tangle of brown stems.
The effect was a little grubby and very claustrophobic.
We have very wide, beautiful views, and now our guests can really appreciate them while sitting on the terrace. (Unfortunately, when I took these photos last month, they were somewhat obscured by the light of the setting sun.)
We had also just cut out a long border on the lower lawn (next post), so we brought that grass up and almost instantly made a wider lawn area.
Then, we cleared out most of the shrubs on the other side, as well as in the planting beds between the retaining walls. (We moved most of them, as well as the bushes stored in the side garden, to the new lower lawn border).
Above and below are the mature results, at the end of June 2014.
I planted yellow-blooming day lilies, Rudbeckia laciniata, and roses in the narrow border along the top of the stone retaining wall — and mainly blue and purple-blue flowering plants in the bed just below.
The yellow holds up well to the bright sun in this exposed spot and echoes the pale yellow paint on the house exterior (and on the living room walls just behind the front door).
*The “we” was me, the gardener, and, briefly, three extra helpers.