Sometime last fall I was contacted by a friend of a friend to see about designing and planting a very small patch of front garden for his condo up the hill from us near the Seward Slides. After a bit of a delay from getting his building-mates on board, I ultimately got the call to come up with a new plant scheme for them.
A few years ago I remember admiring this little front garden for its interesting plants, including a huge mature Furcraea bedinghausii. Apparently those plants were all too big in scale for the tenants’ tastes, and one of them came out one day and cleared everything except for a burgundy smoke bush (Cotinus) and a really gorgeous acacia. There was also a border of big lava rocks.
I came up with two designs for the site after walking the neighborhood with the client to see what they like. One was more of an informal meadow-like layout, and the other a more formal layout in rows, both using all the same plants but with one key plant alternative between the two. They liked both ideas, and decided to use my formal “focal plant” (Pittosporum ‘Elfin’) within the less formal design. A hybrid design.
The end result is a lovely combination of durable plants, and they’re holding up nicely to the ubiquitous dog pee. Aeonium canariense borders the small plot, with the Australian grass Lomandra ‘Breeze’, the pittosporums I mentioned, Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’ (foxtail fern), and a couple of punches of burgundy in the form of Cordyline ‘Design-a-Line Burgundy’ to complement the burgundy of the smoke bush.
It’s a soothing sea of pale greens and burgundy, carpeted with black Mexican beach pebbles. The clients love the much more appealing approach to the building!
Check out the complete Flickr set here, with before and after pix.