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Savannah. Charleston. New Orleans. San Antonio. These colonial-era cities inspire the courtyard garden ideal: green and lush, with beautiful plants, pools and fountains, paved with stone, tiles or bricks, & protected by sheltering walls with gates that reveal a table and chairs for cocktails or an al fresco meal...

My Courtyard Garden


Here is a very simplified but proportional representational view of my courtyard garden from above. Would you like to take a tour with me?

Let's begin by walking up the driveway. It is aggregate surfaced concrete. Along the west side of the drive and back yard is the new fencecrete fence in an Austin stone pattern. The fig ivy has begun covering the wall, and the soil underneath is mulched with river rock. The drive area and the backyard are separated by a wrought iron fence with two 16" square tan stucco columns. The fence has blue plumbago and esperanza growing through it. An arch of the rose Zéphirine Drouhin covers the gate area. To the right of the walk is a large Burford holly and to the left a Mediterranean fan palm. There are Mexican heather and Katie ruellias under the holly, and firecracker plant, Mexican honeysuckle and firebush under the palm.

As we enter through the garden gate, I'm reminded of an upcoming project to have an antique wrought iron arch installed above the gate to better support the roses than does the arched piece of bamboo I currently use. As we look left we see the west wall with fig ivy growing up it and blue Katie ruellia underneath. the lawn is mostly St. Augustine, with some Bermuda and dichondra (on purpose.) I may add some micro white clover later. The west wall is broken up by the clumping Alphonse Karr bamboo, for privacy.

The entire rear, or north wall, is grey stucco with a diamond shaped trellis of Confederate jasmine between the imposing two foot square columns. (I refuse to be PC and call it star jasmine.) The wall was just too monolithic without something to break it up visually, and I think the trellis gives it a manicured old-world look.

The patio, in a free-form shape of gray and tan Belgard pavers, winds around plantings to the back door. The first thing we see to the right after coming through the gate is my 48" diameter cast iron rendering kettle, given to me by my late father-in-law. It used to sit under a huge catalpa tree on their horse farm in Tennessee. It now has two tropical water-lilies in it: a Midnight (blue) and an Evelyn Randig (pink.) A huge cantera stone carved head spits water between the lilies. Around the base are red hibiscus and philodendron Xanadu. Bananas grow to the left of the fountain head.

The next grouping to the right is made up of two large Washingtonia robusta with split-leaved philodendron and Pride of Barbados growing in a round mulched bed between them. The triangle shaped area which surrounds this bed under the palms is mulched with river rock.

As we continue walking right we pass a large Queen palm in a huge pot. After this we turn further to the right, and see my Parisian fountain around the corner, facing north. Above it is a huge Bacchus head with Ming asparagus making up his coiffure. In front of the bay windows along the back of the house, on either side of the rear door are beds with miniature mondo, foxtail asparagus ferns, rocks, and black liriope. Across from the back door is a narrow bed with Confederate jasmine grown as a groundcover beneath the trellised Confederate jasmine. Sometimes my Confederates consort and  must be conquered by dividing, but they always seem to rise again. The rear wall columns each have a classical head peering in the back windows.

The easternmost portion of my courtyard is too shady even for St. Augustine, so I laid a pea-gravel patio there. In the line of site toward my large Mexican urn with Epiphyllum is a small barbed-quatrefoil shaped bed outlined in brick with hosta, variegated needlepoint ivy and a trailing cinquefoil within it, under a round stone birdbath.

Along the north side of the house, after turning the small corner once the foxtail ferns stop is my fernery or Lady-garden, overseen by the BVM. Many ferns live here in the peat-mossed shade along with a huge overturned stump. Another Mediterranean fan palm inhabits the Southeast corner in front of the same wrought iron fence near the drive. Proceeding northward we see a huge live oak responsible for all the shade, and various shade loving groundcovers and flowers such as firespike, Japanese holly ferns and walking iris.

Thanks for coming over and seeing my courtyard garden. I hope to weed and prune better before you come the next time, and I will eventually intersperse some pictures on this page.