After the new walls, walkways and lampposts are installed, the patio in the back yard is next on the list to be completely transformed.
Dig Safe comes before excavation begins to flag the major underground lines, and I mark the outdoor speaker wire to avoid any damage (orange flag, lower left). Once everything has been clearly marked, I direct the removal of one of the existing boulders and the repositioning of the other using a skid-steer.
My goal of creating an intimate patio oasis is on its way. The first plantings are evergreens that will mature to a size capable of screening the patio from the neighbor’s looming house. The Seven-Son Flower tree on the left provides fragrant flowers in the summer, which will be appreciated from the adjacent patio. Pink flower bracts and exfoliating bark continue the interest through fall and winter.
During the summer, containers of vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and strawberries add to the feeling of a private oasis, despite the construction site twenty feet away. The client’s young children can wander through and nibble on whatever is growing in the containers—all the plants are edible.
I envisioned the boulder as a sitting spot for my client’s children—a secret perch from which they can spy on the natural world around them. Swallowtail butterflies and beneficial green lacewings lay their eggs on the parsley and fennel in the containers. The children can watch the caterpillars grow bigger by the day. Hummingbirds hover nearby to sip nectar from the tubular red flowers of pineapple sage, also an edible plant. The flowering plants around the boulder, mostly native perennials, continue blooming through the fall, and attract painted lady butterflies and even a migrating monarch butterfly, which is being considered for endangered species status.
"Catherine Volic of Sweetgum Horticulture has been working on my garden and yard for more than four years, from existing only on paper to now full of beautifully chosen and placed plants. She has found and worked with subcontractors where appropriate and managed my projects as well as handled maintenance and annual planting. She is a pleasure to work with: organized, reliable, thoughtful, and open to my ideas while highly creative with her own. My yard garners praise from everyone who visits and I am quick to give her the credit she deserves. I feel lucky to have found her!"
Meg S., West Newton, MA