Jan 31, 2013

From a Garden to a Courtyard :: adaptation required!!!

Reading Janelle's Library of Design post about garden trends this morning had me 
almost weeping for my old garden, with its generosity of space,
abundant terraces, themed "mini" gardens
(including the black + white front garden, laid out in a yin + yang formation),
and a 40 metre long veggie garden bed,
which provided most of our produce throughout the year.

self seeding rocket

For we have moved from a garden of 2700 m2
to a courtyard of less than 500 m2.

So the teak dining setting has been changed from this background....

...to this one, which is just a tad different.
Well, that is to say the chairs & umbrella came along for the ride in the furniture van, 
but the table had other ideas.
It refused to budge, and splintered apart when the umbrella was removed. Eeeks. 
I set the chairs up to get a rough idea of how the new space will look when we 
actually get something as civilised as a real table.
For the moment, it's an air table. (You know, like an air guitar?)

But the ponds were happy to move,
as were their waterlilies and blue rushes.
It's funny - those pots used to look tiny by the pool in the last garden,
but they look huge here. All about scale. 
And they form a very handy celebratory entrance to what will become the veggie garden. 

At the moment, it's this rather sweet picket fenced garden,
which was built as a dog run by the previous owners. 
Dog walk, perhaps, is more descriptive. 
Actually, "dog sit still" is really more realistic,
because it is about 7 metres long,
but barely wide enough for a dog to turn around.

But it does have this rather super pond and water fall arrangement in the centre,
which is all lit up at night time in a delightful effect.
There is an abundance of Choisya Ternata in the garden,
and while I am partial to the sweet scent of its white perfumed flowers in spring,
(and the dark green glossy leaves)
too much of a good thing is not a good thing in a tiny garden,
so these shall be replaced with rhubarb, heirloom tomatoes and rainbow chard.
The Choisya will be relocated to the front garden.
And some espalier fruit trees shall be planted against this north-facing wall. 

So it's all rather exciting, 
with lots of plans afoot;
and sniffles of nostalgia for my old garden aside,
I'm actually twitching for the weekend to begin,
so I can get my gardening gloves on and start pottering.
For the flip side of a small garden is that it will be so very easy to work,
leaving lots of time to simply enjoy it.

And that's a prospect I am relishing! 

all images :: blue fruit


  1. HI Virginia. Just a bit of a contrast, hey?? You know, I love having a little courtyard garden (at my office), where you know every single plant. It takes about half an hour once a month (or less) to do the entire garden. Unlike your old garden, the detail becomes so much more important, as it is seen from so much closer. So you really get your money's worth from things like tulips and other seasonal treasures. It leaves you so much time to do other 'stuff' that isn't garden maintenance!! I have loved fine-tuning my office garden so there is a seasonal variation, it's just all in one space! Enjoy the planning!! Rachel

    1. Oh Rachel trust you to have a positive, bright outlook! Something about the positive nature (no pun intended!) of one who loves gardens, I think.

  2. I think Rachel has it right...I shall keep that advice in mind for next house! Looking forward to seeing the courtyard evolve!

  3. I love a good potter...I would say you have your work cut out for you! It looks and sounds like a wonderful project and I agree...anything Janelle writes has a way of taking you places you never expected.. xx

  4. Hello Virginia:
    Whilst we can often be filled with nostalgia for our garden in Herefordshire, which was some 2 acres, we never miss the work of it all. As you say, so much more time to simply be in the garden and enjoy it rather than work in it.

    Scale is everything in the garden and it is often the element that is the most difficult to get right. But, if in doubt, make it bigger is our motto and that is so much easier and less expensive to effect in a courtyard!

    1. Oh lordy, lordy, 2 acres...that is insane... beautifully insane though. Agree wholeheartedly, big scale is my motto too - so much so that my clients often tease me. "Virginia says it has to be tall" says one of my favourite clients when asked anything by the builder - I have him well trained, haha!

  5. Scaling down my own garden is still in the future, but will be inevitable as time and age march on! I'll be watching eagerly as your garden (and positive attitude towards it) evolve. Thanks for sharing!

  6. This will be fabulous Virginia! What a lovely project and I see you're wasting no time! I can relate to pining for a previous home...there's been a few...but launching into the new one and making it yours helps that to settle down. Your previous garden was so beautiful and so this one will be too...it's just different but think of all the benefits. Can't wait to see what you do with it as I know it will be perfect.

  7. Just looking at your photos it appears that you may have a problem that I have - the choice between a better garden or parking the car off the street. I have been living in my house for over a year now, and I still can't decide whether to relegate the car to the street or make the most of the room I have available for a table setting and courtyard garden. Looking forward to seeing how you develop your courtyard. A small garden can be quite liberating! I once mentioned to my daughter that the gardens where I live now are so different to those in my previous suburb, and she replied that this was because everyone where I live now has better things to do than spend all their spare time gardening!

    1. Indeed it is so, Kate. We can actually park no less than 4 cars in the courtyard (the previous owners had 4 cars parked there, bless them). But our second car is about to be sold as we can't fathom the need for it with trains, trams and buses all about us in such close proximity. Luxury after living in the outer Melbourne suburbs with woeful public transport! So I have already snuck out part of the allocated carspace to create a little courtyard setting for the timber dining setting. The one remaining car shall be allowed to tuck in where he is, which still leaves room (just) for table and chairs. It's certainly a change for us, after having a carriage driveway and space to park half a dozen guest's cars!

      Adore your daughter's comment! I know exactly what you mean. My own daughter would thoroughly concur!


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