An English Garden in Woodland Heights

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I have English gardens on my mind after reading the blog post The Morning After The Weekend Before.  <Click for a fab video and real treat! It reminded me of a English style garden we installed in December 2015, that I have neglected sharing with you. It was early autumn when I was asked to design an English cottage style garden by a very charming British woman that had recently bought and renovated a bungalow in Woodland Heights. The back garden space had a wonderful covered porch that looked out at fence and weeds. Before blank slateThere were practical issues to address like getting down from the porch, hiding the A/C and privacy from the house to the east. Then there were her desires. She wanted flowers and seasonal change, more entertaining space, to attract pollinators and wildlife, a place to grow herbs and veg and a pool or pond. She also wanted a garden her Mum would enjoy when she came for her yearly visit from England. Cutting to the chase here is a photo from 8 months after the installation on a warm July afternoon. Big change yes?After same directionWe used handmade brick from Mexico in a color that complements the beautiful deep blue of the house. We added a wrap-around step making it easier to get down to the patio from the back porch. Here is another before looking the other direction. before single stepWe were able to raise the area up a bit closer to the porch with the brick patio and adding a wrap-around step brought the the two spaces together and made for better flow.Raised herb bed and pond. Same direction as before.At the far end you can see the row of Ilex x attenuata ‘Savannah’, Savannah Holly, that will fill in and create a nice privacy screen in a few years. Their natural columnar shape and amenability to trimming make them a good specimen. The red berries they produce will attract birds in the late fall and winter.Savanah hollyThe hollies are under-planted with Ruellia brittoniana ‘White Katie’ (White Katie Ruellia). Below you can see how the hollies have been sheared. We aimed for low maintenance when choosing plants; this area will only need a bit of trimming twice a year.  I use ground cover to help with weed control. We get weeds on the wind and from the birds here in Houston and a bare patch of dirt is an open invitation for weeds. Savanah hollie and Ruellia brittoniana 'White Katie' (White Katie Ruellia) This view is from the east edge of the garden looking across the space. Fairly center to the design is the pond. Beside being beautiful it gives the added benefit of the soothing sound of running water and is deep enough for pond plants but not fish. Patio and raised pond.Here is a closer view in the late afternoon last month. To the left, in front of the A/C surround, is a Magnolia figo var. skinneriana (Skinner’s banana shrub) Click here for a great article on Banana shrubs. They are in the Magnoliaceae (Magnolia) family. The name comes from the banana-like scent, of the flowers which are about 1.5″ in diameter and a very lovely shade of yellow. I thought they would make a nice accent against the blue house. It only wants to be about 6′ to 10′ and will take shaping. Magnolias do well in Houston and these small ones are under utilized in my opinion. Our local source is my favorite grower Treesearch Farms. Raised brick pondThe client added the plants to the pond. I love how happy the  water lily is and how well it has grown in just a few months. Looks like more flowers are on the way. There is no problem with mosquitoes as long as you keep the water recirculating. Brick pond with water lily.Next to the pond is the herb and veg raised bed. Raised beds are easier to maintain because you don’t have to get down to ground level to plant and pull weeds. The plants do better because they have good drainage which is not the case with our native heavy clay “gumbo” soil. This bed has a lip wide enough for sitting. Behind you see the tiny hedge of Baby Gem™ Boxwood, Buxus microphylla japonica ‘Gregem’ PP21159 from the Southern Living Plant collection. We like to use them in smaller spaces because they are happy to be trimmed to 1 foot high! pond and herb bedClose up of herb bed and the gravel area beyond. The flowering shrub to the right is a Kaleidoscope Abelia, Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ P.P.# 16,988. Close up of raised herb bed.The beds are all irrigated with low water emitting drip tubing. This photo is before the mulch was put on top. Low emission drip irrigationThe Banana shrub is under-planted with Ficus tikoua –Sandi Leaf Fig Ivy. It is a versatile ground cover and take full sun but appreciates a little afternoon shade. Its max height is about 12″. You can see it filled in quickly. Sandi Leaf fig ivy, Ficus tikouaBehind the miniature box hedge we have Paniculata hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata. Several varieties of hydrangeas do well in Houston. I just have to remind people that they are deciduous. These will need nipping and trimming to fit in the narrow bed but it is worth the big lovely flowers.  Paniculata hydrangea One the west side of the garden we have a gravel area. It could accommodate a little table and chairs and or pots. We talked about putting a tiny She shed in the corner but for budget reason changed it to beds. The corner now has a Vitex agnus-castus ‘Montrose Purple’. These Vitex take trimming and shaping very well and can be trained into small trees. The shot below is of the plants newly planted last December. In Houston we can plant all year long. Gravel area. Move ahead 8 months. I love the Buddha shaded by the Vitex. On the trellis is a Peggy Martin roses, also known as the Hurricane Katrina rose. It is a vigorous climber that can easily reach 15 plus feet.  In the fore ground are Yellow Walking iris, Neomarica longifolia, Trimezia martinicensis, also known as Apostle Plant. And the ground cover is Golden Globe, Lysimachia procumbens. 8 months later plants filled out. From this angle, you see the Dwarf Red crape myrtle, Indica mandi. It has wonderful summer color and only wants to be 6 feet tall. Red dwarf crape myrtle.We also did landscaping down the west side of the house to viewed and enjoyed from the dinning room windows. Here we used plants that are happy in hot full sun. They are also plants that attract birds and butterflies. Here is the before. Side yard before Newly planted below, the trellis has Star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides , to create a green wall. It is under-planted with Nandina domestica ‘Harbour Dwarf’. In the near corner is a Possumhaw holly surrounded by Inland sea oat grass, Chasmanthium latifolium . In the far corner we have a Flame Acanthus, Wright Anisacanth, Hummingbird Bush, Muicle Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii). Sorry we don’t have an 8 month on picture of this area. Side garden planted.To wrap this up I am sharing an image of a trellis and gate we had in our original design. That was before her daughter got engaged and she had a wedding to put on! Maybe someday we can come back and put in the gate she desired.  FB_IMG_1436641706506Happy Gardening!

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