How do you own a garden that doesn't own you? If you ask Charlie and Patricia Peay, they'll tell you it's simple -- just downsize.
Two years ago, they grew tired of maintaining a big garden and house and decided to move into a smaller home with a more manageable landscape.
This change took a little getting used to, but the Peays love not having to devote hours to watering and pulling weeds. Now, they spend less time working and more time enjoying their new yard.
In only two years, the 40- x 20-foot walled courtyard on the side of the new house became a focal point. The garden draws you outdoors to enjoy the many flowers and the tapestry of foliage.
French doors open from the dining room onto a cozy brick terrace, which becomes an extension of the home. A bench and a couple
of chairs make the patio a nice cozy sitting area. When the Peays entertain, the courtyard acts as an overflow area, so guests
can mingle outdoors without feeling cramped.
Step off the redbrick terrace onto a flagstone surface filled with fresh thyme and other nifty little plants. The flagstones create a naturally flowing walkway to the side gate. In compact gardens, you need to use every square inch, so even the small amount of soil between stones is planted.
Creeping thyme (Thymus sp.), 'Nana' dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nana'), mazus (Mazus reptans), 'Ogon' Japanese sweet flag (Acorus gramineus 'Ogon'), and small flowering annuals are placed in planting pockets for interest. Violas bloom from September through May;
then Texas sage replaces them to provide summer color.
Five 'Nikko Blue' French hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nikko Blue') create a loose hedge, which is covered in big, blue mophead blooms in late spring and early summer. A flowering quince (Chaenomeles sp.) also graces the courtyard. Its scarlet blooms in late winter and early spring bring the bare wall to life.
In a narrow space between two windows, four 'Plum Passion' nandinas (Nandina domestica 'Monum') were planted. They have purplish red foliage in spring, fall, and winter; summer heat brings deep green leaves. Nandinas
have an upright growth habit that works well in tight spaces.
The courtyard lacked shade, so a 'Forest Pansy' Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy') and a Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) were added. They will grow tall enough (about 20 feet) to help screen sunlight but won't get too big and consume the garden.
The Peays set out three containers in the garden to add height and color and help elevate the plants to eye level.
They brought a large pot filled with black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) from their old house and set it out in the courtyard. The 10-foot-tall black shoots, tipped with green leaves, create nice vertical lines and soften the wall.
They set a pot containing a topiary lantana next to the brick steps. The yellow blooms add lots of color and signal a grade change. A planter basket filled with colorful foliage and flowers hangs on the khaki-colored gate.FromSouthern Living