Friday, June 3, 2011

A New Broken Concrete Patio Tucked In the Garden-Walk Around Time


What is that way in the distance? Could it be a chaise just waiting for a tired gardener to have a seat? Let's take a closer look. Come walk with me.


As we get closer we can surely see it is indeed a chaise with a few chairs, a lovely table and umbrella and a patio! The patio is tucked into two gardens. Shall I talk about the gardens as we walk? The first garden we come upon is surrounded by rocks lovingly collected by me in Louisville Kentucky from my daughter's subdivision. Boy was that a lot of work~! I need a seat just thinking about it. The Redbud Garden is so named due to the 'Forest Pansy' redbud tree growing in this garden. A funny story about how this garden started. I had an extra load of dirt and no where to put it. This particular area was a difficult area because the grass would not grow here no matter what I did. So, I dropped the dirt in this location and planted the Forest Pansy. The rocks and other perennials came later. Tip: start your gardens with the structure-trees and/or shrubs then fill in with perennials.


Ah, here we go. We can get a close up look at the broken concrete. The iris foliage you see to the right of this small patio is from the irises growing in the Redbud Garden. We shall walk to the left of this patio in a minute and take a look at the Walled Garden. If you have a chance do go back and look at this post on the Walled Garden. It shows the garden NEWLY planted. My, what a change. I will talk more of the changes as we walk around the gardens and patio.

The particular location we are standing in is on the north side of my front yard. It has a great view to the side gardens and backyard. The 10' x 8' patio area is somewhat sloped to the north. As such I had to elevate one side of the patio. Mr. Fix-it and I did this by applying a layer of gravel ranging in depth from 2-6". Under this gravel we applied landscape fabric to prevent weeds from growing. I won't go into detail about building this wonderful patio (because I have already posted on that part) but just let me say it has exceeded my expectations. When we first placed the concrete on the gravel surface the cracks and gaps were so big I was afraid my footing would be shaky when walking on the patio. Not so! After packing in the crushed limestone this patio is as solid as they get. It has worked out wonderfully.


And here we are just waiting to take a seat! That chaise sure looks comfy. My two tulip chairs now have a permanent home out front and don't need to rest on my lawn anymore. A nice thing. Okay, let's move around the Walled Garden now. We will walk to the left (north) and I will talk of the plantings along the way.


This area is sloping to the left (toward the north) of my property. I wanted to level this area and keep soil from washing away so I acquired some old concrete blocks that are made to look natural from a fellow Freecycler in Evansville Indiana. On these I placed flat concrete stones as a cover. My cat Orkin loves walking on this wall. The wall serves to delineate the boundary of the garden and holds in some backfilled soil. Not only that but I think the wall helps to hold in moisture. This is most important because there is a mature oak and mature cedar tree growing in this bed. The soil can be very dry. The outer rim of shrubs is a group of PeeGee Hydrangeas I propagated from cuttings in the year 2007. I hate propagating shrubs. It takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r for them to mature to good sized shrubs. Soon these shrubs will be in full bloom. The first time since I planted them! There are about 10-12 of these shrubs. A tip: when you have a seating area it feels more comfortable and natural to have a backing in place. In my case my backing is actually three walls of shrubs (two rows of the PGs, and in between them directly in the middle of this garden are three 'Nova Zembla' rhododendrons; which are evergreen shrubs. This garden is dark and barely gets any sun so only shade tolerant plants can grow in this location. There are a few perennials in this garden as well. Namely hostas and columbine but they will soon come out so the shrubs can take over and provide the structure and impact I desire.The hypertufa pots are not normally located on this wall. They have been relocated there temporarily while we have some work done on the house.


Okay, we have now reached the lower end (northern side) of the Walled Garden. This picture shows the PG hydrangeas a lot better. They are getting big-finally! Even though I started this garden in 2007 the PGs (big ones) were actually started from cuttings in 2005. Looking straight ahead past this garden we can see parts of the Northside Shrub Border and the Roadside Shrub border. Directly straight ahead on the other side of the shrubs is the road. Let's look at a focal point in this garden. A special treat in the form of a Japanese maple.


This is one of six Japanese maples in the front yard. Most are planted as an understory interest tree. All are under existing mature trees. The shade tends to slow the growth a bit but I think in the long run it will be okay because with slower growth the tree will hopefully put on a good structure and grow nice roots. This tree started as a 2-3' tall seedling. I do not know the cultivar. Last winter it had the most glorious orange fall foliage. It is simply splendid. I tucked it in between two PGs. The hosta growing here will soon be divided and moved. It is a 'Christmas Tree' hosta. I have found this hosta to be one of the very best hostas in my garden. It gets nice and large and looks good all season. It does not tend to fade away like a good many hostas do here in the south.

We are rounding the bend of the U shaped Walled Garden and are now looking up toward the house from the northeast corner of my front yard. You can just make out a 'Nova Zembla' rhododendron between the two PG hydrangeas that are in the foreground. If you look past the rhododendron you'll then see the back side of the new Broken Concrete Patio.
Let's look back to where we just came from in order to round the bend shall we? On the right we can see the Northside Shrub Border. This border follows the outline of the Walled Garden and there is a bump out between the Walled Garden and the Crabapple Garden. I planted an 'Empress of China' evergreen dogwood in that bumpout just this past fall. It is doing wonderfully. Trees and shrubs are my passion here but I am really running out of spots to plant them.
Looking to the south we can now make out the mature cedar tree (Juniperus virginiana). I love my cedar trees for their toughness and food they provide to wildlife. Unfortunately they are very dark underneath. The only thing growing in this area are some Solomon's Seal and a few azaleas. Generally speaking all of my gardens are loaded down with perennials. You usually cannot see the ground because of all the plants. Some areas like this one though are too challenging even for tough perennials. It is here that I prefer only shrubs with a good ground cover under the shrubs. This area is inhospitable to most plants due to the tree roots from the red cedar. Oak tree roots are not as bad as cedar tree roots and I have a lot of oak trees. Tulip poplars and even river birches have very thirsty and very hungry roots that simply clog up the ground and hog all of the soil. No matter what kind of trees you have in your garden just know the ground is normally very tough for perennials to grow in because the perennials simply cannot out compete the trees. In these situations only tough shrubs and mulch will work. As a rule I generally do not water. At least I try not to. If you are a gardener who waters a lot you may have better luck trying to keep perennials alive under mature trees. Good luck.

Looking through to the patio we can see the three rhododendrons. On the other side of the rhodies are more PG hydrangeas. They are smaller than the ones I previously showed since they were only propagated a few years ago and just planted last fall. To the left and where you can see the green water fountain is the start of the Redbud Garden. The Redbud Garden gets a bit more sun and has several perennials growing in it under the redbud.
Just past the water fountain is where the concrete wall will turn to stone and that signifies we are almost back to where we started-at the Redbud Garden. Here you can see several perennials growing in this garden. This garden is viewed prominently from my front porch as you can see in the above picture.
Looking through the gardens we can see not only the patio (remember it is tucked in between these two gardens) but also some of the foundation beds and back toward the Northside Shrub Border and backyard.This is our view looking to the west from our new Broken Concrete Patio.
Finally we are back to where we started the tour and walk around. This large island bed is one of five large island beds in the front yard. So far we have walked around the Front Center Garden and now this combination Walled/Redbud Garden. Soon we'll see the Crabapple Garden, the Mahonia Garden, and the Front Sidewalk Garden. 

Shall we have a seat and a spot of lemonade on the patio....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. I'll take you up on that offer of a seat and some lemonade!

    I enjoyed the walk-around SO much. Your new seating area is wonderful. (I'm toying with painting our chairs red after seeing yours.)

    The time you took to identify your trees, shrubs and perennials was appreciated. Just wish I could retain all of the names! They have a way of slipping right out of my mind.

    Hope you have some time to sit and enjoy your beautiful yard this weekend.

  2. Rebecca, If you ever get down this way be sure to let me know and I'll make the lemonade. No one will remember those shrubs but I do like to describe the scene.

  3. You and Rebecca need to make room on the great new patio for one more tired gardener panting for lemonade! Your grounds are very pretty.

  4. Very cool! I like how it is tucked into the garden - it blends in and makes you a part of the garden when you're sitting there enjoying the garden.

  5. What a nice walk around your garden. I am such a big fan of Forest Pansy. Think I have a space for it, if I can find a nicely shaped one.
    Your hard work has paid off in spades. You have a lovely garden with great definition, good 'bones' and lots of eye appeal.

  6. I feel as though I have been in your gardens this morning girl. This patio is so inviting and I sure could see myself taking a nap on that lounger. Today would be a good day for it since I overheated in the yard yesterday. Yes, silly me was out in 97 degree heat and humidity all day long. I got a lot accomplished but ended the day with a massive headache. Today, the back, neck and shoulder pain is back. Sigh, I over did it again. Today, I spend the day in the cool air conditioning resting my body….

    Everyone have a great weekend…

  7. The patio looks so nice!! I adore those two red retro chairs. Cats really do seem to like bricks. Fiona used to walk back and forth on my long brick walkway, which wasn't even raised and when cutting across the grass would have been shorter. I'm curious about the little ladder on the tree. Will something climb up it? I like it, in any case.

  8. Darla, Plenty of room-come on over!

    Dave, It worked out well for us though I sure wish I could say I had the 'vision'. Nope, more like chance.

    Janet, Thanks! I bought my little forest pansy at the end of the season as a markdown. I am shaping it as it grows. Funny thing, this little tree is the only one that lost limbs in our recent storms. Not so funny really. My friend just bought a beautifully shaped one for $30 at a plant sale. Nice and rounded.

    Skeeter, You take it easy in this awful heat. Relax is a good thing this 'spring' this year. I hope the reno is going well. Our roof will be done today! Yahoo!

    Hi Monica, Those chairs are most comfy and look good to boot. The ladder is just for looks. I may eventually mount some hanging plants on it but for now as far as I know no critters climb it.

  9. The spot of lemonade sounds like a good idea to me. It is something I never think of and I am not sure why as I do like it.

    I just do not know how you do it all!! Great tour.

  10. Thanks for the tour--that was a nice break in my office-bound day. Love your gardens and patios. I always get great ideas from you.

  11. You are SO creative and talented at recycling stuff! I look at things and don't have the imagination to do anything with them, but I always enjoy seeing what new ideas you're showing here. My problem is that our entire property is slightly sloped, and on heavy clay and rocky soil. Makes doing some hardscaping jobs quite...challenging, to say the least.

  12. I am taking notes, many wonderful tips and ideas. Hopefully we have our own patio one day.

  13. Hello all.
    Tina that was a great tour. I love the little patio tucked in like that. So natural, a good vantage point to observe the other gardens.
    Lemonade sounds good.

  14. I love how you have surprises tucked in all over the garden...such a peaceful place to sir for a spell...

  15. Your front yard looks wonderful, and you've created such an inviting place to relax and enjoy the garden!

  16. Lemonade and a visit with you on your new patio sounds wonderful! I love how your solutions have created such great gardens. "Dropped the dirt in this location..." Perfect. You do need to get a sense of a location before you make permanent plantings.
    I spotted the hypertufa pots right away. They look cool.
    My dad always reminds me about how trees use up water and make everything else struggle. I've found a few hardy plants. Otherwise, I just mulch around the trees and maybe place containers there time to time.
    Enjoy that patio.
    May I have another glass of lemonade?

  17. NIce walk through your garden Tina. I love your description of the redbud garden, It sounds like the way I built my wraparound perennial bed. I really like your red tulip chairs too. If I could find some I would buy them in an instant.

  18. Re-reading & looking at all that lovely foliage.
    What ever is the wire thingy that looks like a tree?

  19. Good eye Lola! It is actually a metal tree in the form of a Christmas tree. At one time I was going to wrap the form with lights and light it up at night. That never happened. For now it is simply a shape in the garden and adds another buffer between the house/gardens and roadway. One of these days I'll figure out how to use it properly.

  20. It all looks great Tina! I love your new patio. I know what you mean about gardens under mature trees! We have mature silver maples (ugh - NOT my favorite trees. at. all.) The roots are extensive, and it has taken years to establish the garden, and lots of watering. In the last two years, finally the garden is thriving with mostly drought-tolerant plants, lots of deep-rooted natives, and rarely needs watering. It has taken a long time to get to that point, and I've lost a lot of less sturdy plants along the way. I can imagine that where you live, with your warmer temperatures, gardening under mature trees is even tougher.

  21. What a wonderful walk in a beautiful landscape. I so much like the walls and the gardens. Its very similar to my wildflower garden projects. More flowers, shrubs and trees/less grass to mow and weeds to pull. Thanks Tina... oh yes I could really go for some lemonade, my favorites. :)

  22. Hello again Tina. Catching up on some of your posts today. I saw a post on facebook that I couldn't figure out how to comment on (except on fb but I didn't there for some reason). It showed photos of all your gardens and I was blown away. I knew you had a some nice beds and a wide variety of plants but I never realized how extensive. Very impressive.
    I'm going to send my mom to your blog next time she accuses me of having a plant hoarding problem!!! ;-)

  23. What a fabulous tour of your garden. I really like your walled-in elements and the way your garden is subdivided into sections with themes. Very cosy looking patio with tulip chairs and chaise. I'm so sorry to hear about your dog.

  24. i love your garden and your ideas, thanks for sharing them :)

    regarding pinterest, it can work in your favor, since when anyone in pinterest website clicks your picture, it will redirect them to your blog, and you will be "found".
    Theres always people out there that will steal, but pinterest will do more good to your blog than harm you.

  25. Thanks Anonymous for your comments on Pinterest. I think most people like Pinterest but I have the proof that it does not help my blog via my Sitemeter statistics. In fact, I will be posting my views on Pinterest next week and it will not be a nice review at all. We blog for fun and if folks decide to read our views (and they do) then that is great but Pinterest in no way helps that along and I'd rather not have to deal with Pinterest at all based on happenings so far. It is true Pinterest directs readers to our blog when a reader clicks on the photo but it is not true when our photos are consolidated and there is no click thru to our blog. This is a major issue not to mention the fact our ideas and photos are only for this blog. We will continue to share them here as long as things do not get too much out of hand like it looks like it might with the thefts.

    On a good note, Thanks so much for your nice comment about our gardening ideas. Truly appreciated and the fact that you took the time to respond to my note about Pinterest.