January 2023

Creating a Small Space Garden

Chris Lindley says that gardening has always been her passion and her salvation. As a landscape designer, she has worked all over the country creating gardens large and small. When she moved back to Wilmington from Greensboro during the pandemic, she was faced with the challenge of transforming an ordinary courtyard into an intimate garden.

Chris guides us through her process. She began Sept. 2022.

The view from inside the home was a major consideration.

I wanted an intimate space for myself and my dogs, Leonard Cohen and Tallulah. I needed a green space so I could get my hands in the dirt; a place for reading, quiet reflection, and listening to music.

Write down your thoughts and ideas. Collect photos from magazines and websites. Visit public gardens like the Arboretum or Airlie. See the 2022 Azalea Garden Tour. Look around your own yard. What treasures do you want to feature: your grandmother’s birdbath, a special piece of statuary? Establish a budget, then decide what will work using a process of elimination.

Notice what elements you want to include. Know the sun and shade patterns, wind direction and grade. Consider how everything will look from season to season.

The townhouse had a narrow, wood deck that sat directly on the soil. It sloped towards the house, creating a moisture problem at the threshold.

I decided to replace the tight, rectangular deck with a larger stone patio with gentle curves and an extended area for a fountain. The footprint was dug out and the grade was corrected to direct runoff away from the house.

Shawnee Mountain Fieldstone, placed vertically, was used as a natural edge between the stone and turf.

Until Nina at Stone Garden suggested artificial turf, it never crossed my mind. I wouldn’t have considered it, not in any garden of mine or my clients. I knew it would look fake. But she asked where I planned to store a mower in my narrow townhouse garage or which lawn service I would pay to cut and maintain it. So, I bit my tongue and decided to go look at the turf. It changed my perspective.

There sults were spectacular. Golden Vale Synthetic Turf™ isa miracle. When I look out the patio doors at my “ever-green grass, “it makes me happy all year round.

On the north side of yard, an existing pine tree had to be accommodated and the HVAC system needed to be hidden.

I wanted planting beds for perennials, and some shrubs and small trees to detract attention from the old fence. The nursery stock was limited because of the pandemic.

For the future water feature, conduit was run under the stone and turf to the center of the yard (marked by a pot).

My design included two matching dry stack walls, with shapely curves to break up the linear fence line. I planted Emerald Green Arborvitae, tall and slender, on either side of the gate. I picked out a special fountain to be the centerpiece of the garden. I love the sight, sound and motion of the water.

Shawnee Mountain Fieldstone was drystacked to create the raised planting beds.

In order to create differences in height and dimension, I added a Hinoki Cypress in one corner and a Fringe tree in the other. I hung moss baskets on the gate and fence, full of trailing flowers.

Moss Basket

Summertime Abundance

The south side of the yard underwent a similar transformation.

Choosing a theme is important. Echoes of England run through my garden, a nod at the time I spent there.

When you garden like this, you have to be very discerning. You don’t want to over-plant, but you want it to look lush in every season. I am very mindful of texture and color throughout.

I added perennials and annuals to create a layered look, with native plants to attract wildlife. My garden is a-buzz with birds and butterflies. Throughout the garden, for added interest, I like to tuck in herbs, lettuces and other edibles with the perennials, alongside cucumbers, squash and tomatoes.

St. Fiacre, patron saint of gardens, was a gift from my late husband in1990 and was my point of departure for the design of this garden.

My Cherub bird feeder, a decade-old gift from Nina, has weathered beautifully over the years.

A sleepy hedgehog nestles amongst the blooms.

The Anfora fountain, in Copper Bronze, is the focal point of the garden.

Overflowing containers soften the edges of the patio.

This Celtic planter, made of cast limestone, is one of my most beloved pieces. It holds a rose tree, underplanted with colorful annuals.

A Charleston Cherub planter, filled with white flowers, show brightly at night, arranged with Geraniums, Bacopa, Trailing Vinca and Petunia.

Spring of 2022. The view looking out from the inside is now a pleasure to see.

Everything is maturing nicely. It is hard to be selective, but less is definitely more. Now we’re in the middle of a freeze and my garden still looks beautiful.

-Chris Lindley, January2023