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Monday, January 16, 2012

Backyard Renovation: Part 3

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Alright everyone, it's finally time for the big reveal...what was I up to all last year. It sort of feels like the "What I Did This Summer" report we had to write every year in elementary school. In lieu of posts for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-up (which I hope to participate in next month), I powered through this post last weekend!

Plans PairingLike any big garden project, we started with a "master plan" of sorts. On the left you can see Norm's blueprint for the hardscaping. You may notice something missing from his plan...yeah...the plants.

I find it amusing that to him, the actual garden area is like a void!
My plan on the right, however, has almost no indication about the harscape. It is focused entirely on plants.
I went round and round about what I wanted to do in the backyard. Should it be minimal, focusing on usable space for sitting, dining and entertaining. Well...we do precious little of any of those things...so, "no" to that. I wanted plants, plants, plants! I did decide to pare the plant list down to just a handful of species...to keep the garden from feeling too overwhelmingly like a curio cabinet. However, I decided to also plant in a somewhat random "matrix" style. Except for a few structural plants, I would place things in a seemingly random pattern...avoiding groupings of 3, straight lines and obviously "planned" groupings. I hoped that the limited planting palette, and the islands of grouped grasses, would keep the garden from looking overgrown and weedy.

AprilMayJuly_FromNorth
Above is the garden seen from the North. The first pic, in April, is right after we finished the hardscape (well, except of the pavers). The May pic shows the same area with most of the plants in place (except for a few I couldn't locate until later in the season (Eutrochium 'Little Joe' and Echinacea purpurea). The May photo also shows our first stages of laying the pavers…trying to figure out which ones we liked…and the pattern we wanted. The difference between May and July is astounding…once warm temps arrived, the garden exploded with growth. Even though I knew it would green up during summer, I was still sad to see the brilliant winter coloring of the Anemanthele lessoniana change.

AugSeptOct_FromNorth
High summer and fall are definitely the best months in my gardens, in general, and the backyard is seemingly no exception! I guess it's pretty obvious in all these shots that I tend to favor blues, purples and pinks…colors and hues toward the cooler, more soothing end of the spectrum. That's not to say these colors aren't rich and saturated…but, for the most part, I avoid hot, primary colors. I noticed that, as lovely as gardens look in soft, overcast light, I found that this garden was most stunning when backlit…all the blooms and grasses positively glow!

AprilJuneJulyFromSouth
Here, we are looking at the garden from the South. Again, the shot in April is very soon after planting. One of the benefits of using Calamagrostis is that they are cool-season grasses, and give a lot of visual weight to the garden early in the season while everything else is catching up. The June shot shows the plants filling in, slowy but surely. Again, in July, everything seems to be surging ahead like a locomotive…practically unstoppable. I love the Bronze Fennel on the far right one the bottom photo…but it, unfortunately has a tendency to flop right as it reaches a crescendo of bloom. I always toy with the idea of cutting it back as it starts to bloom, but never do, as the bees and other insects go insane for the blooms.

AugustSeptemberOctoberFrom
The same view of the garden during the next three months shows the garden reaching it's finest hour. The dog days of August don't faze the garden in the slightest…the grasses and Agastaches luxuriate in the warm summer sun. September was, I believe, when the garden really peaked…it was absolutely a riot of color. Also, the rains hadn't returned yet to collapse the taller, more delicate plants. I spent a lot of time sitting in the garden during these months, as the days cooled down and every hummingbird and insect seemed to redouble their efforts to drain every last ounce of nectar from the blooms.

Inside View
Haha…here's a view I probably won't show very often, as this window become partially obscured by the rampant growth of the Clematis tibetana vine during the summer. This is the view from our kitchen window, which I see every time I get a cup of coffee in the morning (so, quite a bit). It's a bit of an improvement, I'd say :-)

backyard august  809Sedum Matrona
Above is an closeup of the "matrix-style" planting at work. I found this area of the garden was the most effective result of my adapted technique. I adore the tapestry of forms and colors. I must have taken a million photos, trying to catch the ever-shifting changes. The pic on the right is of Sedum 'Matrona', intertwined with the rambling Geranium 'Rozanne'. This is one Sedum that really looks striking all season, and I would heartily recommend it.

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It took us a while, but sometime in August, we finally found a set of chairs we could both agree on!

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On the opposite side of the fence I set up a sort of "holding area" for plants that I wasn't sure what to do with...or plants that I had previously planted in a spot that didn't quite suit them. Among the plants that resided there this summer were a pair of Agastache rupestris, which, in spite of hardly ever getting watered, thrived and reminded me of why I planted them in the first place. They also made a wonderful, unplanned pairing with Geranium 'Rozanne' (who sneakily crept under the fence to join the Agastache). It ended up being a wonderful pairing and a fabulous bit of spontaneity.

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Agastaches as far as the eye can see! Here we see Agastaches 'Ava' and 'Blue Blazes', both backed by Agastache 'Purple Haze' and backlit by the smoldering September sunshine (yes, bonus points for unnecessary alliteration)! I have to mention that as much pleasure as the garden gave me, it was even more alluring to bees. There was never a time when the entire garden wasn't humming with activity. Hummingbirds seemed equally drawn to the garden...anytime someone would visit, I'd make them stand still for a little bit. Almost without fail, a hummingbird would appear within a few seconds. There was a breeding pair in a tree next door who were locked in constant combat with any visiting hummer. As far as they were concerned, it was THEIR garden!

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At some point, i realized I had to find a way to vault the Clematis tibetan a over the path and onto the fence. Try as we might, we just couldn't find any sort of arbor we both liked. I liked rusty metal, Norm did not. It doesn't help that so many of the arbors we "sort of" considered were really expensive. In the end, I decided to make one out of copper pipe. I spent a few days hammering out a VERY SIMPLE design. We bought the pipe and necessary tools and had the entire thing finished in a day! I'm not overly-fond of how shiny it is at the moment…but rest assured, knowing it will for a handsome patina soon enough.

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I know it's becoming a bit gratuitous…but here's another backlit Agastache shot! Oops…looks like our arbor is leaning a bit in this pic.

punky cat
It turns out that our new backyard was a Mecca for the neighborhood cats. There was never a time that I'd look back there and NOT see a cat sleeping in a corner or stalking the birds that frequented the area.

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I mixed several Verbena bonariensis, 'Lollipop' in the garden, randomly wherever I wanted a filler. While I was annoyed at myself for not realizing it was a much-shorter version of it's cousin, I realized that it was farm better suited for this small space.

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Agastache 'Purple Haze', backed by Bronze Fennel. This is one of the few plants in the backyard that was totally an impulse buy…but was a huge success. I loved it's very upright and bushy form. A bonus, it bloomed from July to Frost…a never-ending succession of sultry violet blooms.

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Another shot of the main planting area. I love how the Knautia has a constant supply of new blooms, while retaining the wonderful, spherical seed heads of it's past blooms. When backlit, the seed heads are a textural marvel.

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I can't imagine not have Echinacea in my garden...of all the perennials I can think of, they are the ones that most remind me of the prairie. I'm old-fashioned, so just plain ol' E. purpurea for me :-) They are honest plants graced with a dignity and simple beauty missing in many newer varieties. You all remember Boots, our Construction Foreman...he enjoys the new seating as well.

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For the first time this year, I grew some annual Poppies…and absolutely loved them…the blooms last for such a short time (glorious as they are) but it's the long-lasting seed pods that really endear them to me.

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Another shot of the wonderful Knautia…this must have been one of the very first blooms…as they coincided with the blooms of Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'. I find 'Karl Foerster' interesting in all its stages…these feathery, pink-tinged blooms are so very different from the tawny talons they will later become.

backyard june  728
Of course, we can't always win, can we. I had planned on putting some Rodgersias I found for sale along the north side of the fence. I figured they would be shaded during most of the summer. I was so wrong…they got blasted with sun during the hottest part of the day…oops. It's always so hard to judge how far the shade will recede during summer. Oh well…I moved them all this fall to a more hospitable area…replacing them with Panicum 'Northwind'. Of course, the Panicums will not get as much sun as they would like until early summer…so we'll see how they fare.

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Sadly, we got a few heavy showers in late September or early October (can't quite remember which), and they pummeled the garden a bit…the tallest of the Agastaches had quite a few snapped stems :-( As you can see, they completely fell over the path (which had already grown so narrow it was hard to pass through). I left them for a few weeks, then cut back all the floppy stems. To my delight, they resprouted at the next bud and within a few weeks, I had even more (albeit shorter) blooms!

before after-1
I had better wrap this post up already! To end things, here's a look of what the garden looked like before we started working on it…and 1 year later. I will admit, one thing I would really like to figure out is how to provide a bit more privacy by screening out our neighbor's windows. I'm considering either some sort of bamboo…or, more likely, a stand of Miscanthus giganteus…do you all have any suggestions…remember, it's a tight space…and I don't want to block any more sunlight to the other plants than I absolutely must.

before after-2
Again…from the other direction, the garden in spring…and fall of that same year!

Whew! I have to say, it ended up being both harder and far more rewarding than even I could have anticipated. Days of hard, sweaty labor and fretting proved to be worth it in the end. I highly doubt it'll ever win any awards or be on the cover of Gardens Illustrated (hey, a boy can dream, can't he?) but I love my little Hot Mess of a backyard :-)

129 comments:

  1. Your transformation is amazing! And you should submit pictures to Fine Gardening. Totally cover worthy.

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    1. Thanks! Wouldn't it be unbelievable if they actually ran it...hahahahaha...I would do a back-flip for realz!

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  2. Wow! It just shows what can be achieved in one season whe you plant perennials! I agree about Sedum 'Matrona' - a fabulous plant for so much of the year. The new growth begins almost as soon as the plant has flowered, I find it difficult to know when to prune it, surely I wait for spring unless the old top growth has fallen oever. Brilliant post, thanks for the time it must have taken to write. Christina

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    1. Isn't it astounding...I honestly thought it would be next year before it really filled in...but our mild spring really helped things along! Funny you mention that...I noticed the new growth of 'Matrona' a few weeks ago!

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  3. Such beautiful shots. I'll tell you that path is really gorgeous. Really nice job on that and it sets off the whole thing to perfection. Your trellis looks great from what I can see, nice job.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Thanks...I appreciate that...especially the trellis...I was a little insecure about designing it myself :-)

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  4. Two plans merge into something spectacular!
    Love the transformation--it's inspiring!
    It was worth the 10 minutes my dial-up internet took to load the pics!!!

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    1. So glad it was worth the wait...I sometimes feel a little guilty when I go crazy with all the pics!

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  5. Wonderful post. It's so rare to see good photographs of a good project from start to finish. HG et alia do it all the time and while their hardscapes are always great, their planting plans always seem a bit lacking, unlike yours with all those great perennials.

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    1. That's exactly what I wanted...I usually forget to take photos of the "during" portion of things like this, I just want to get it done...but I knew this time I wanted to really document it. A little planning goes a long way! Agreed about HG (I assume you mean HGTV)...they always focus so much on hardscape...and the plants are kind of just an afterthought.

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  6. Just beautiful! Love, love, love the copper arbor! Don't forget to take time to really enjoy it now that it's "done" for a while.....

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you like the arbor...I wasn't sure if we could actually make something decent! Now, on to the next project...no rest for the wicked...I mean, weary ;-)

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  7. I can't get enough of before and after shots of a new garden developing, and yours has so many great pictures of all the elements. How rewarding to see it come together so beautifully. You planted the things I have in my garden (A. Purple Haze, the Karl Foerster feather reed grass, coneflowers. so many other perennials) so it's fun to see how you used them versus how mine look. I must get the red knautia, love how it sets off the other blooms!

    Bamboo and miscanthus grasses get huge and would be too much in my opinion. To block the windows how about an upright holly or narrow evergreen? Your beautiful blowsy random perennial look needs a dark, dense upright focal plant somewhere for a punch of contrast.

    Love the whole plan, start to finish!

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    1. I'm the same way...I LOVE before & after posts...they are so inspiring...and sometimes mind-bending! It's so fun to see other using plants we already have, just in different ways, isn't it...really stirs the imagination! Very good recommendation...and I'm seriously considering something like that...just have to really do the research :-)

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  8. What an amazing transformation. Great selection of plants and you both did a great job!

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  9. I am so amazed how much your plants filled in in just one growing season. You and Norm compliment each other wonderfully...his focus on the hardscaping and yours on the plants...resulted in a amazing space!

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    1. You and me both...I was shocked at how big everything got this year...totally unexpected! I agree...we both balance out the other's neuroses!

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  10. WOW! What a beautiful garden and complete transformation. Of course, I just love all the plants and have to add some MORE to my list, but I also think your fence is beautiful. It makes a wonderful backdrop for the garden as do the pavers. I would stare out your kitchen window for hours, grab coffee and then sit in one of those fantastic chairs for hours, go back to the kitchen view, grab wine, and then sit some more! Cats seem to love to creep in my garden, too.

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    1. Thanks Kathy...I always like adding plants to people's MUST HAVE lists :-) It's funny, that's often how I spent my days this summer...endless wandering through the garden :-)

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  11. I love the colours and the richness of the plants you've chosen. What a relaxed feeling there is in this garden! I would love to be one of the lucky cats just enjoying the amazing result of your hard work (I would't eat the birds, though).

    This project and its perfect, high-quality documentation would surely be something a gardening magazine would like to print in its pages. It's also an excellent example of the importance of good planning - even those plans themselves are wonderful.

    Congratulations - and big THANKS for sharing this with us. It's time for all of us to start making big and small plans for this season :)

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    1. I know...to be a cat and be able to nap in the garden all day long...sigh! I'm such a planner at heart, even if I'm prone to making some decisions on impulse (mostly plant purchases with no idea where to put them)! You're so right, this is the time to take stock and make plans so we can hit the ground running this spring!

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  12. Fantastic job and everything grew so fast! Your color preferences are the same as mine. I do love the bronze fennel. I may try to grow that this year. I bet your neighbors are enjoying the view as well but I can see why you want to screen it. I've always been afraid of bamboo. There is a large variegated cane that grows next to a lawyer's office a block down from us. It is very tall and striking. Sorry I don't know the exact name of it. Another option might be the taller varieties of Angel's Trumpet - do you grow those?

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    1. Thanks Phillip...I'm just as amazed at the growth rate as you are! Glad to find a kindred color-palette spirit :-) The Bronze Fennel is a beauty...I hope you grow some...and the insects will love you for it! I'm kind of afraid of bamboo too...so it's with trepidation that I even mention it! I bet the plant you're thinking of is Arundo donax...not sure how thuggish it is...I'll have to look it up. I hadn't thought of Angel's Trumpet...how big do they get?

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  13. Absolutely beautiful, Scott! I love seeing before and after shots, and the transformation you've made in this garden area is simply amazing. You've used my favorite color palette as well as some of my favorite flowers--I agree, I must always have some Echinacea purpurea in my garden. The red knautia makes such a nice contrast; I might copy your idea. Great job--your garden is worthy of a magazine centerfold in my opinion!

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    1. So glad you liked it! It's funny how for so many of use, we're linked through our plant choices, isn't it :-) So glad you liked the design :-)

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  14. OMG! Wow Scott how beautiful it turned out. I love the seating area and the pavers. You both did a wonderful job in landscaping it. What a cozy nook it makes with a wonderful view of those flowers. What surprises me is that it looks like your plants have been there for years already. So you did a wonderful job selecting those plants. I just love it and you both should be proud of what you have created. You guys can redo my garden anytime. LOL!

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    1. Thanks Lona...I know, I honestly can't believe how big everything got this year...I didn't expect it to fill in until next year at the earliest! You're probably right, it's a good case of "right plant, right place". We are pretty happy with the results...and will be delighted as soon as we can figure out a way to have a little more privacy :-)

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  15. Amazing and wonderful! The most impressive thing to me about this gorgeous makeover is the fact that you and Norm made it happen in just two seasons, so you were able to enjoy your first beautifully full garden summer and fall the same year you revamped it. Other things I like about your "finished" garden are the scale changes between the small blooms like knautia and agastache and the larger blooms like the Sedum 'Matrona', and the vertical height you achieved in just one growing season using the Karl Foerster grass, the clematis and the copper arbor. I love the contrast between the geometric paths and sit-space and the billowy soft beds of plants as they matured during the season. I can tell you will love using this space for years to come, and you'll tweak the plants and plantings to make it more private and even more satisfying to you both.

    Thank you for documenting and sharing this beautiful labor of love with us!!!

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    1. Thanks! I know...it's crazy how much you can accomplish if you just really put your nose to the grindstone (although my poor back still hasn't totally forgiven me)! I'm glad you like the contrasting forms and sizes...it's really something I strive for...using spires with umbellifers and globes...I love different shapes and textures!

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  16. Congratulations! Your design has - in short time - made the most of a very small space. I think your planting scheme and focus on larger, airy, prairie-type plants actually makes the space look larger because they soften and minimize the enclosing walls. Lovely!

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    1. Thanks Jocelyn...I agree...I think their loose, informal habit makes the area feel more open and less confined...and they help to blur the boundaries ;-)

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  17. WOW! You took a "nothing" space and made it amazing, and so fast. I love that you and Norm approached it with such different priorities, definitely made the end result all the better. Your copper arbor is perfect! So simple and elegant, I can't believe you made it yourself (might have to see if you take commissions) and I look forward to catching a glimpse of it as it ages and patinas. Fabulous!

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    1. Thanks Loree...it was definitely wasted space before! No one was more amazed than I at our ability to make that arbor...and I have ideas of replacing the store-bought trellis with more copper ones :-)

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  18. Amazing... you've got mad skills. What a gorgeous garden!

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  19. Scott, in my opinion your garden should be on a cover of a magazine already.
    You made me smile with Norm's project and Scott's project, it happens the same here with Ale and me. He says I leave him all the dirty job, but I know he likes it.
    I am not commenting on those agastaches again, I'm fed up with them. You sure those beautiful cats of yours are not hanging around because of the agastache scent? It's similar to catnip, isn't it?
    I have an advice this time. I think you should think of a small tree (maybe mushroom form and evergreen) to put behind the chairs. It looks like something's missing down there and actually the focal point is your neighbor's window. I'd avoid miscanthus giganteus, its name is a promise (or a menace) believe me. Maybe a little ligustrum japonicum? Or lagerstroemia?

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    1. Oh, Alberto...you are too sweet :-) Hahahahaha...glad to know there are other couples out there who compliment each other as well...Norm feels the same at times, I'm sure! You know, I hadn't thought about the Agastache attracting the cats...I may have to do an experiment to see if they like it or not...hmmm. Good idea for privacy...I'll have to look into those trees (I had considered a small Japanese Maple). Maybe you're right, though, something bushier would be more practical. I'll let you know what I decide on :-)

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  20. What a fabulous garden renovation! It's beautiful, absolutely beautiful and more importantly--it reflects what you wanted and dreamed about. Kudos for a job well done!

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    1. Thanks, Tina...it totally does...I've never been so happy with how a garden turned out in its first year!

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  21. I love what you have done with what is a fairly small space. Definitely don't go with a bamboo. They just get too big and you will end up regretting it. I'd stay away from the Miscanthus for the same reason. Something tall and skinny that won't take over would probably suit you better. Keep hunting for the perfect plant.

    Great series of posts! I look forward to being able to share my own yards transformation later this year.

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    1. Yeah...I think you're right...and the more I think about it, the more the idea of bamboo makes me nervous! I'll definitely take my time...there's no rush...and I don't mind if the neighbors really want to watch me eat a burger...let them! Can't wait to see your yard next year!!!

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  22. This is just amazing and so pretty! Can you two come up and redo my backyard? You make a great team! This could definitely be in a magazine!!

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    1. hahahahahaha...don't tempt me! I'm running out of room far too quickly!

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  23. While you're up here working on Catherine'a grden, you can come here and work on mine too! This transformation is just stunning! Not least because you did it all (design, hardscape and plantings) on your own. Limiting the plants used was a smart move. The neighborhood cats love our back garden too, like you, we get lots of hummers. Would Stipa gigantea work to screen the neighbor's windows?

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    1. Hahahahahaha...will do! I know...it's amazing how quickly the plants grew...and the soil isn't very good...must have been our mild summer! I actually considered the Stipa gigantea! I don't know if it would screen us much...it's so gauzy...I might go visiting some gardens this spring to see how well it would work. I already have one...so would maybe just need 2-3 more to get a denser screen...actually...that's a great idea...thanks!

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  24. Fantastic! It started out looking good, but your plants seem to have grown so fast - the fall months are just absolutely glorious! I bet you just love seeing that view from the kitchen window every day. And I love the arbor, too. Great job!

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    1. Oh yeah...last summer into fall I was just in heaven...I was out there all the time...and yes...I love looking out now and seeing the garden, especially in comparison to what it was a year ago!

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  25. Beautiful!!! I also grow knautia and love how tough it is! You've really done an incredible job. Bravo!! We have some of the same plants, especially the agastaches. Pink Flamingo muhly grass might help you block your neighbors windows, especially if you planted it in pots so it would be even taller.

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    1. OMG...isn't it a great plant...mine are even green still...can't believe it! Hmmm....I'll have to look into the Muhly Grass...I had no idea it was that tall!

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  26. Hard to believe what a difference a year makes. I love the complete contrast in both your plans, and the end result that merges the two together so well to create a magic place that is more than the sum of its parts. I would never have realised that your plantings were all so young, since I found your blog in the summer, your pictures have shown a garden overflowing with texture and colour and fascination.
    Great work! I look forward to following your garden through the seasons to come.
    (BTW my comment is not published when I sign in via my wordpress account, I have to switch to my google account to stop endlessly being bounced back to the edit)
    Sara

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    1. You said it...looking back while doing this post, it all seems unreal now. I agree...I think our two approaches worked well...because we each made sure our part was taken care of! How weird about Blogger...it can be very testy at times...I've had weeks in the past where I couldn't even log into my blog...sheesh...I guess it's a case me getting what I pay for (nothing)! Hopefully Blogger can address this problem sooner rather than later.

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  27. For some reason I had it in my head that you had made this garden last fall, so imagine my surprise when I realized you had enjoyed it all summer! What a glorious garden you created -- you guys make a good team. The comparison between the last two photos is astounding -- it looks like a magazine's before-and-after. And isn't it always cool how big a little space becomes when you fence it, add seating, and plant it?

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    1. Ha...probably because I only alluded to it very vaguely throughout the year...I am tricksy, aren't I ;-) You are so right...It's amazing how spacious it feels out there now...now that the space is usable...not just a pass-through.

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  28. It's really fantastic to see the progress through the year. I really have enjoyed your documentary approach to the project.

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    1. Thanks, Patricia...glad you enjoyed it!

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  29. You are getting a standing ovation from me! Bravo! Really...you should submit this to Sunset. This is an incredible renovation of a small space and it's completely transformed. My goodness, you could just write the article for them and include your fabulous photography. Cheers, Jenni

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    1. Awwww...thanks, Jenni! Wouldn't that be something...I'd swoon if I ever got featured in a magazine!

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  30. Hi Scott,

    Such beautiful planting... Of course now I must go out and buy lots of agastche... Even if it is likely it will die over winter... I don't actually come across it often here; will have to keep an eagle out eye for it!

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    1. Thanks, gwirrel..glad you like it...and yes...you must get some Agastache! I wish it were hardier so more people could enjoy it as much as i do :-)

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  31. Wow, Scott, what a wonderful transformation! I'm glad I made it here to see it. I don't have any ideas about hiding the neighbors' window, but I like your ideas. You rock!

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    1. Thanks, Sue...glad you stopped by to visit...and glad you enjoyed the renovation!!!

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  32. I love how you used the matrix style of planting. I used to try planting in threes and fives and invariably something would die off leaving me with an even number of plants. Thanks for sharing the transformation. It's a showstopper!

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    1. Thanks...I wasn't sure if this technique would work at all...or if it would just be a chaotic mess! Limiting the plant choices was certainly the key...with varying colors, shapes and textures. I still plant in groupings elsewhere...but thought this would be fun as it's in the backyard...so if it failed miserably, I'm the only one who'd know!

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  33. It's gorgeous! You did an amazing job of transforming that "space" into a beautiful garden. I can't believe how nicely it all grew in over one season. You certainly deserve that winter rest.

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    1. Me either, Kelly...it was VERY surprising to me when everything kind of rocketed skyward in August...I just stood back and tried not to get in the way ;-)

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  34. Scott, what an amazing tale of a garden. I love the color palette. They are my favorite colors. I too love the seedheads of the annual poppies...remind me of a salt shaker.
    A friend of mine did a copper pipe arbor and it is sooo pretty. I like yours and rest assured it will age beautifully.

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    1. Aren't they just the best colors, Janet! I love how soothing and vibrant they are at the same time. I'd love to see your friends arbor...I had a hard time finding anything online except for very basic ideas.

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  35. Scott,
    You have done a lovely job with your garden. I am planning to do some renovation, bit by bit. Your garden is an inspiration. Love the copper arbor.

    Yael

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    1. Thanks, Yael...I do hope you'll post on your renovations...would love to see them!

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  36. What a lovely garden you have built! Excellent job!

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  37. What an amazing transformation, Scott, and all in one summer! Just beautiful.

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    1. Thanks, Zoey...I do think it will take me all winter with a bottle of Ibuprofen to get back to fighting shape before this spring!

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  38. Amazing job, Scott. Love your plant choices, and the design works so well for the challenging shape and dimensions of the space. One of my favorite combinations is the agastache with the knautia. Seems you could almost do away with the path looking at the photos from late in the season. For screening, Miscanthus giganteus can get awfully big. Maybe Arundo donax, if it doesn't become a super giant in the Portland climate? Or some of the smaller clumping bamboos that grow only to 8 or 10 feet? How did you manage to keep this all a secret for the past year?

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    1. Thanks, James...glad you enjoyed it! Yes, the Knautia and Agastache certainly compliment each other, don't they...the Knautia is just airy enough that it works its magic all over the garden. The path was definitely overwhelmed at some point in September! I'll have to keep that in mind...the Arundo can also be pretty gigantic around here...will have to research it. Didn't you know...I'm a MASTER at keeping secrets ;-)

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  39. I am jealous of the progress you made in such a short time. It looks great and your graphics are magazine worthy. Just saw the news. Snow coming to Rhone Street?

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    1. Thanks, Bluestem...I was amazed at how well it filled in, for sure...as surprised as anyone! Oh yeah...we got some wet, heavy snow...most all the remaining grasses and seed heads are smashed, battered and flattened now...oh well...we can't win them all, right!

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  40. This has been brilliant first thing in the morning coffee reading - excellent story. I never would have imagined you could have done a prairie sort of garden in such a wee space. For your view blocker, since you don't have a tonne of composite flowers, I might suggest a tall Helianthus or Rudbeckia. You could also shoe-horn in a banana or another tropical (dracaena) that would be skinny on the bottom and blowsy on the top. There are some tall Verbascum that might do well too. Judging how things grow in your little oasis I'd be leery of anything that would need a machete for maintenance in year two. B.

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    1. Thanks, Barbarapc...glad you enjoyed the post...and yes...I was surprised as well at how well things worked out so far! That's a good idea about the Helianthus...I've been trying to figure out where I could fit one in...using one of the taller ones would effectively kill two birds with one stone!

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  41. What caught me eye, since I'm on a few urgent designs, are your respective plans. On mine in CAD, the sheet with hardscape emphasizes that and no plants (like Norm's)...and the planting plan (like your's) has only an outline for hardscape, no patterns. Perfect!

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    1. Ha...I love it! I guess our way or working it out is legit!

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  42. WOW Scott that is soooooo beautiful. The colours work ever so well together and I love all the vertical aspects. Oh if only I could grow Agastaches like this!............ do you both want to come to Scotland and do my back garden aswell? Your little backyard deserves to be in a magazine showing how a little space can be so totally transformed and it really did mature so quickly aswell. Your neighbour must enjoy the view from those windows!

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    1. Awww...thanks, Rosie! I LOVE vertical tall plants and vertical accents...especially useful in smaller gardens! Oh yeah...I catch them looking out at it quite often!

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  43. What a wonderful transformation! It must be a restful place to have sit and talk in the evening. You all are going to enjoy it so much this coming year! All the work will pay off ten fold. (We felt that way this year about our painted house!)

    Beautiful plant choices as well!
    Julie

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    1. Oh yeah...now that the work is (mostly) behind us, we both love it...oh, and I can only imagine how happy we'll be if/when we can repaint the house...I DREAM of having it repainted!

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  44. Scott,

    I just love all of those xeric plants weaving together. I amm going to copy some of your choices for my alley garden. It looks great this winter because we haven't had much snow.

    Eileen

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    1. Thanks, Eileen...glad you like them...they really do play well with the grasses! We just got a dose of wet, heavy snow this past week, which pretty much smashed everything to the ground...oh well...I was going to cut it back next month anyway :-( Good luck with your alley garden...I can't wait to see what you come up with!

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  45. WOW! It's amazing how beautiful your garden looks after just one season! Usually it takes so long for gardens to fill in and mature. Your favorite colors are mine, too, love those blues and pinks. The backlit photos are wonderful. Everything looks great, good job. And kudos for taking the time to make such an extensive post on the project. Sometimes I get so tired from the actual work of a project that I don't want to bother with a big post about it :-)

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    1. I know...it's so crazy how fast everything grew this summer...I wasn't expecting it to look this full for at least another year! Oh yeah...these posts were as much a labor or love as the garden itself...but I figured that as much work as the renovation was, I should do it justice with some decent posts.

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  46. Scott,
    The renovation looks sensational. Really nice plant selection and, as always, the photography is wonderful.

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    1. Thanks, Michael, glad you liked it...it was a labor of love, for sure!

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  47. You made the most of every single square inch.

    A little vinegar will patina that copper for you.

    Agree, you need to screen out the neighbor's windows. Trellis with vine?

    Congratulations on a spectacular new garden!

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    1. Thanks, Hoover Boo...that's what I need to do! I remember reading that yoghurt would do the same thing...but I was leery about smearing it all over! I've considered a trellis as well...was thinking I could use a series of 10' rebar with fishing line strung between them...and allow the Virginia Creeper to cover it up...hmmmmm.

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  48. I love posts like these: they take a bunch of time to put together but are so worth it. Seeing your thought processes, and the differences in approach from Norm to you: HA! I know that difference well. I love the lines in your garden. From the lines of the path to the horizontal lines of the fence to the vertical lines of the upright plants like grasses. You've rekindled my love for Agastaches: we used to have quite a few of them in our garden but they've disappeared through time. I think it's time to bring a few back. Thanks Scott!

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    1. Awww...thanks, Lelo...it really did take me quite a while, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! I hope you do get some more Agastaches...they are so great...and really seem to love our weather here! If you're ever in the 'hood this summer, stop by and I'll give you some cuttings ;-)

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  49. Incredible, Scott! I agree that these photos and your garden plan should appear in a magazine! I love the shots of the Knautia especially, and the series of monthly updates that show the progress of your developing garden. What a wonderful oasis for you. So funny that the two of you had totally different priorities--but they came together in a most complimentary way. Stunning!

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    1. Hahahahaha...we certainly did have our own agendas, didn't we! In the end, it was definitely to the benefit of us both! Knautia is a great plant...and one of the most under-used in American gardens...for sure!

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  50. What an excellent transformation! The before & afters are very striking (that giant shrub-weed...ugh!) I love the rich coppery colors of the hardscaping....it just glows behind the cool colors of the plants. And the neighbors' shed seems to be part of your garden now - they just can never change the color ever again. ;) The larger September photo is the best...I just want to grab a drink, a book, Boots the Foreman and sit in the garden all afternoon! Your close-ups of the flowers are wonderful. The ones with the Knautia & Agastache and the Knautia & grass plumes are my favorites. Wonderful!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer...yeah...the pokeweed is BAD NEWS..hahahaha! I agree..the warm afternoon light plays so well off the cooler flower colors :-) Oh yeah...I want to join you in that September photo right now!

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  51. Fantastic transformation, really enjoy seeing posts like this with the various changes highlighted.

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    1. Thanks guys...glad you like it, before/after posts are my fave too!

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  52. scott, don't now how much room you have to screen your neighbors windows but how about some form of columnar ornamental tree or conifer. There are many choices in your neck of the woods.

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    1. That's definitely something I'm considering too...there are SO MANY options, aren't there! It's mostly a case of whatever I choose being tall/broad enough to give us privacy, but narrow enough to not block out the light to the rest of the garden ;-)

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  53. Félicitations! Je suis en admiration devant ces massifs de vivaces qui ont poussé aussi vite.

    Quelle beauté ces agastaches: hélas en France, ces variétés ne sont pas commercialisées!

    Ici, il y a de 30 cm de neige. Toutes ces couleurs, ça fait rêver..Merci!

    Armelle, une jardinière française qui jardine en montagne dans les Alpes à 1000 m d'altitude.

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    1. Merci Armelle! Gardening in the French Alps...now I'M jealous! The Agastaches are great...hopefully they will become available to you some day...hopefully a few of them are hardy for you up there...and if not, you have your gorgeous views! Do you have a blog...I don't see one attached to a profile for you...would love to see your garden!

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  54. Absolutely fabulous, Scott. The transformation is spectacular and you love all the same plants I love so your colors just feed my soul on this dreary day. Love the Foreman and the neighbor visitor too. I bet you can't wait to get out there and start digging. :)

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    1. Thanks, Grace...I know, we're kindred spirits with color, aren't we! Yes, it seems we are now paying for those days (weeks) of sun last month, aren't we. Oh yeah...can't wait for spring!

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  55. So glad you chronicled this process in photos. What a gorgeous, dreamy planting. I just bought 3 of the dwarf verbena 'Lollipops' -- hope they're not too dwarf and dumpy! You and Norm make a great team. And there can never be too many photos of Boots -- what a character.

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    1. I hope you like 'Lollipop', I'll admit, I was annoyed with them when I realized they were going to be shorter...but I ended up loving them...especially on my sloped garden out front :-) I agree about Boots...I need to get him in every post somehow!

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  56. What a beautiful transformation! I love the design and choice of plants ~ it couldn't have turned out any better. I've really enjoyed this series of posts.

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    1. Thanks, sweetbay...so glad you liked it...we're pretty happy with it too!

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  57. Scott what a fine accomplishment, one that keeps growing in beauty and depth with each year. I'm disappointed to see there are just two chairs around the table; no problem, I've got a folding chair in the truck. ;-)

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    1. Hahahahahaha...For you, Tom, I can always make room ;-)

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  58. Wow!!! You have outdone yourself. Your renovation is amazing...just beautiful! Well done!

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    1. Thanks so much...it was a labor of love :-)

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    2. Bonjour Scott!
      Merci pour le message!
      I do not blog at the moment but I think about it seriously.
      Bloggers like you make so beautiful pictures it will be hard to live up to! For now, I just really enjoy the garden blogosphere. I love perennials and roses in particular. I have Agastache in the garden but I've pulled before winter for the winter in a kind of cold greenhouse. I could not do it: winter is unusually warm this year! Not like Portland anyway!
      Portland seems like Brittany. There's my father's house there, near St Malo! The area is a paradise for garden!

      A bientôt,

      Amitiés jardinières
      Armelle

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  59. Beautifully done! So striking that your vision and the reality are much the same. It's impressive that you stuck with it and worked to make it happen. Looks like a beautiful space to enjoy for years.

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    1. Thanks, Shirley! I agree...it ended up being pretty close to what I had imagined...which seems to hardly ever happen!

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  60. Wonderful pics. It's so rare to see good photographs of a good project from start to finish. like it!

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  61. Hi There! This is the first time I've visited your blog although I have seen you post on other blogs. I must say I absolutely love this post! The project is so well articulated and visually stunning! I LOVE your little backyard and your plantings. I didn't know Verbena Bonariensis came in any more varieties than the standard one! There are so many things I love about this post and one of them that I have to share is that my husband and renovated a tiny bkyard in NE PDX about 12 years ago and turned it into a cutting garden with a paver patio. It was our first landscaping/garden project and it took us a year too! I became hooked on gardening after that! Thank you again for this lovely post.

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  62. Your garden has such personality - an invitation to stay awhile (which apparently the local wildlife has embraced). I envision many of these photos in Pinterest's "Fine Gardening - Photo of the Day"... I'll have to go check.

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