With a little creativity and the right accessories and plant purchases you can take even a modest-sized spot in the garden or patio and turn it into an outdoor retreat. The first step to making sure you get all that you can out of your small space is deciding the kind of area you desire.
Have you always dreamed of owning a gazebo? Do you need an outside dining patio, or maybe just a relaxing sitting area? If relaxing with a good book or with a few good friends is your main activity, you may consider a sitting bench, chairs, and the right sized end table just large enough for a candle and some coasters for your favorite drinks.
The best part about patio gardening is its changeability. We often use pots or moveable bamboo screens in this form of design. Easy to move around and alter especially as the seasons and weather change.
There are also many suitable plants for patio areas. Espalier plants are grown flat as a screening option but are also fantastic specimens. There are many new release species available in this form. Camellia, Olive, Gardenia, Cumquat and lemon varieties. Try planting in front of timber screening with river pebbles at the base or low contrast foliage groundcover such as Trachelopspernum tricolour or the purple foliage of Alternanthera to give help give a splash of colour contrast.
Other architectrual plants to consider in your patio garden are Bamboo, Nepalese blue or black bamboo are beautiful shimmering options for part screening. Brachychiton bottle tree is another option as an interesting statment which can be planted in a large bowl or pot. Consider low dense hedging plants such Syzygium winter lights, Nandina species such as flirt, moonbay or gulfstream. Or mix it up with silver foliaged Cotyledon.
Still can't decide? Perhaps a garden consult from our nursery experts is the best option. The consult fee is refundable against plant purchases......
When you start planning your private patio area, think about the ways you will use your area in every season of the year. Whatever you decide, keep in mind all the weather challenges we face and how you can get the most from your small space. Many people utilize their patio area for cook-outs until it becomes bitterly cold. So, even in winter you might decide to arrange your area around cooking and entertaining by your outdoor grill or smoker. Spring is a great time to plant vegetable or herbs. You may end up spending more time outside as the weather warms, so consider tidiness. Site screens such as bamboo fences or planter boxes can hide outdoors equipment, and add dimension to your area.
You are only limited by your imagination! There are many books available that offer step-by-step instructions on planning and personalizing your little garden corner. Be sure and check your local library or favorite bookstore for more ideas.
By Leigh Murphy
Onlineplants March 2014