Today’s article is about what I call a “Barbie Doll Garden.” Here’s the story:
One of my favorite clients for a number of years is very easy to please as long as she gets exactly what she wants. The problem is that I sometimes have to get really creative to reach that goal. I spent a lot of time trying to get the entrance planting just right but she kept asking me to move this or change that. Finally, in order to make the moving and changing easier, I got some nice clay pots and created a garden that can be moved around and changed easily. I got tickled when I figured out that it was kind of like playing with a doll house and being able to change things easily and at will.
The planting is divided into three sections. In this one by the drive, we installed a fieldstone border and added pea gravel for the “floor. We set containers where we thought they should go and planted a combination of evergreen and flowering plants. The plants have been pruned to shape using bonsai techniques. Whenever Betty decides that something doesn’t look right, we can move it, prune it, or change the plant out for another one. The next picture shows the end of the planting area which is framed with an arborvitae in a cast iron urn
The second section takes in a porch by the drive and curves around the corner to the main entrance. I like the way pots of impatiens and caladiums flash their colors from an area behind the autumn ferns. We are able to move the accent plants around to get the placement just right. As they say on the infomercials, “It really, really works.”
Permanent plantings of well shaped lorapetalum and dwarf nandina give a background for a bed of containers on the house side of the walkway to the front entrance. We chose a combination of variegated cypress, dwarf procumbens juniper, dwarf yaupon, and frost proof gardenia for the perennial evergreens. The bed is bordered with rock and has been filled and leveled with compost and cypress mulch for stability and levelling
We also left room to plant flowers. I love the dragon wing begonias. These are the most dependable begonias I ever worked with. They can be used as bedding plants or in containers. The begonias are replaced with pansies for the winter garden.
To add balance for the planting at the end of the walkway, we added one more small bed around the cast iron horse head. I selected three upright junipers and pruned them into an interesting topiary. These plants will never be finished. I have a picture in my head of each of the limbs having a flat top with rounded edges. The final picture will take years.
To add color, I found a large dragon wing hanging basket and planted it in this terra cotta pot. The plant had been root bound in the basket and it almost exploded when it received room for its roots and a goodly dose of liquid fertilizer.
I really like this garden. I like the way it looks and I like the fact that when something doesn’t look right I can move it or easily change it. When some of the plants become root bound or out of shape I can plant them in the yard and replace them with new ones. I am planning to renovate my new wife’s back yard and I think that we will use the “Barbie Doll” concept for at least one or two sections. I love the aspect of being able to modify the scope and balance by easily moving or changing a plant here or there.
This is also a wonderful concept for someone who finds instant gratification a bit on the slow side.
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