The West View from the Terrace – all change

I began posting about the view west at the end of May as interest in the Spring Walk faded.  I soon discovered that the bed in front of the terrace was not very satisfying and realised that I needed to spend time during the summer thinking about how it could be improved.

Standing on the terrace with the window behind me, the new view

Standing on the terrace with the window behind me, this is May 23

You can read the earlier posts here: 23 rd May

30 th May;

6 th June

13 th June;

The shrub planting of various Cistus and an Elaeagnus give good structure and the crab apple gives interest in Spring with its beautiful blossom and all winter its red fruits shine in the sunshine, they are rarely eaten by birds, I’m not sure why.

On May 30th I wrote “Trees: Italian Cypress and Malus ‘Everest’.  I think that now the vegetable garden has been extended on the other side of the drive (with the removal of an olive) there is a need for something tall to hide the tomato canes etc.  Possible contender would be another Arbutus grown as a standard – it would cope with the drought, it is evergreen and has lovely bark.”

I have decided to plant the Arbutus but not where I was thinking about before; it will be planted closer to the Cypress (where I take the Thursday view) to hide the new houses in the distance.

I have chosen another native tree Pistacia lentiscus.  It has small leaves is very drought tolerant I think it will complement the other natives in the bed; it isn’t very big at present but will establish all the quicker because it is small; when it has grown it will hide the vegetable beds from the sitting room window and from where we sit on the terrace in the evenings for an aperitivo.  It isn’t a fast grower so I will have to be patient.

Pistacia lentiscus

Pistacia lentiscus (from the drive)

I have adjusted the entrance to the path that leads around the Large Island so that it is more inviting from the window and the centre of the terrace.  To give unity to the design I’ve added Teucrium on either side of the path, these will be pruned into low doughnut shapes as they grow.

I have adjusted the layout of the path a little making it more inviting from the window and the centre of the terrace

I have adjusted the layout of the path a little making it more inviting from the window and the centre of the terrace

Two new Teucrium planted on either side of the path will be pruned into doughnut shapes as they grow

Two new Teucrium planted on either side of the path will be pruned into doughnut shapes as they grow

The long views I have been showing at the beginning of each month show the change in shape of the path.  They also demonstrate that the actual shape of the path was better before but the important thing is how it feels and looks on the ground (so to speak).  A good demonstration that plan view isn’t everything and a view from a window or particular point in the garden can be more important.

The long view

The long view, September

Long View November

Long View November on a very wet day

Long View November

Long View November

From above maybe the Large Island needs to enlarged so it isn’t such a straight edge, although it will be softened by plannting.

Long View November

Long View November

Maybe an arch over the path where the fennel is growing?  What do you think?

Hopefully the planting between the exisiting shrubs will add the interest I want

Hopefully the planting between the exisiting shrubs will add the interest I want

The new Arbutus will go to the right of the Cypress, adding further height and framing the ‘good’ view.

All very small plants as yet, the Sedum are this year's cuttings

All very small plants as yet, the Sedum are this year’s cuttings

Irises, lavender and bulbs

Looking towards the new Pistacia lentiscus Crimson Salvia, Irises, lavender and bulbs

Eleagnus tobira

Elaeagnus tobira, dwarf  form

As all the plants are so small I thought I’d show you what they will hopefully look like in the coming years.

Sedum 'Purple Emperor'

Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’

Crimson Salvia

Crimson Salvia – during summer it doesn’t stop flowering

Salvia 'Indigo Spires'

Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’

I have only planted one Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ as it is not reliably frost hardy; there other plants (grown from cuttings) in the greenhouse which can be planted out in spring.

As I was planting I added tulips, alliums and Muscari so that while the plants are small there will be an extended period of interest.

I am now looking forward to it all growing and hoping that it will look as I imagine.

Do you have any planting projects at the moment?  What motivates you to change an area of your garden?



49 thoughts on “The West View from the Terrace – all change

  1. I like the the lines of the new path Christina and perhaps the arch might be a nice addition too. And I can see from above the strategic placement of the Pistacia which is quite a nice tree. It seems like the view will be even lovelier come spring which I cannot wait to see.

    As for planting projects…none here sadly. Cold now, wet and flooded in the back from the daily rain with a bit of snow mixed in. With the cold, the water does not absorb as quickly into the already wet clay. But I will be doing some paper redesigns that will be started in spring and finished some in fall. Usually boredom with the view pushes me to change things.

    • Paper plans are fun too. I’m quite pleased that I couldn’t just start work the moment I decided that the view wasn’t right. Looking at it all summer has helped me understand why the view wasn’t working for me and what my options were.

  2. You have been busy! I like the idea of the addition Arbutus. I have always fancied an arachnoides but I’ve never seen one for sale. I had to laugh at your small tree. I had to order a tree by Internet, in fact, quite a few things as they were not kept locally and I got my cm. and mm. confused. It makes a tree 10x smaller than you think it will be. It gave me a good laugh and I was able to order a second one from somewhere else but still not very big. The original is 11cm. so I hope you are right about it growing quickly if it is small. Amelia

  3. I very much enjoy your blog posts because our tastes coincide and its nice to see what my garden can aspire to (many, many years from now!). I have several baby cypress, and lots of salvia and teucrium grown from cuttings are hopefully going into the garden this fall. However, I managed to kill the baby eleagnus that my brother-in-law started from a cutting for me, and the sedums look quite sad (I believe it’s because of the water rentention in our heavy clay soil). I also need to start dividing the irises. I don’t see that you use abelia, though. It does quite well here. I don’t know anything about pistacea, though – I’ll have to google it.

    As for the garden arch, I am a big fan of arches, I say go for it! I would love to include several in my garden. Plus, I can use all the shade I can get. Would you make one, or have you seen some ready-made arches that are decent?

  4. I’d love to be able to grow salvias but they are just slug fodder in my garden. 😦 It is the fantastic thing about gardening, always having a project or idea on the go. There are a few spots in my garden which have needed work for a year or so but I decided to leave them now. Not much point working on them if we move. I have got a sketchbook though which I’m filling with ideas for my cut flower patch and any possible new garden. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I get to carry out the ideas. 🙂

    • It must be so frustrating knowing that you have to move and so not be able to get on with any plans you have. At least when you do have a new garden you will have lots of ideas.

  5. You have been busy! I love your long views – the November photos show off the structure of your garden more clearly than the earlier views I’ve seen. What kind of Arbutus are you planning to put in?

    We’re STILL working on the former front lawn area. We discovered a problem with the irrigation system (which, in retrospect, probably at least partially accounts for the poor condition of the former lawn). My husband fixed that and now we’re painstakingly working around the surface toots of the Magnolia to finish preparation of the final quarter section of the front yard. Then, we need to lay flagstone…

    • Yours is a big project. If the lawn had not looked so bad if the irrigation system had been working would you still have decided to dig it up? I think what you are doing is the right thing, using less water has to be the best option for the beauty of your garden and better still for the planet. I’ve heard that Los Angeles takes huge amounts of water from places miles and miles away that now don’t have enough water for the agricultural that they used to have. The Arbutus that is usually available in nurseries here is unedo

  6. Refreshing to see “on the ground” referring to paths rather than boots. I love hearing about your planning process. I’m working on a couple of new berms where they will get sun. We are tree nuts and as they grow, sunshine comes at more of a premium.

    • To have enough space to be able to plant trees is wonderful, I wish I had removed all the walnuts when we moved here and had planted other trees, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, I didn’t know that the walnuts would never produce a crop. Shade has changed my garden already so I understand your need to plan with the shade being the principal determinator.

  7. I enjoy following your thought process as you work on areas of your garden Christina. Its a discipline in itself to commit and explain your thoughts and carry through your ideas. I woke up in the night this week thinking about my veg beds and decided to give over some of them to Cut Flowers, that was quite a big deal for me, taking part in Cathy’s In a Vase meme was the motivator.

  8. StudIng your photos I have got a much better perspective of where your view leads and the position of the large island. It looks lovely even on a rainy November day Christina, as all that sky beyond your garden keeps it light. I don’t know about an arch. Wouldn’t it hide the cypress from the terrace? How about a kind of obelisk structure near the path that mimics the shape of the cypress? With something climbing up it? Just a thought! But you yourself have such a good eye for the overall picture!

    • Thanks for your input, I’m not that sure about an arch and I have plans for an arch in another part of the garden and two is probably too many. I think an obelisk would look a bit strange so close to the path. Maybe a living structure nearer the cypress would work better, I like the idea of a clipped Bay. It is very helpful to ‘talk’ through ideas in this way, thank you.

  9. I love your choice of new trees. I think an arch would be great. What will you grow over it? I think as gardeners we all like to have a project on hand and we constantly change things and make improvements. I can’ t ever imagine sitting back and saying: ‘ There, it’ s finished!’

    • You’re right I don’t think a garden is ever finished. It must change and will always change whether we want it to or not. Actually if we don’t intervene as plants grow and change the shade present in the garden etc. I think they quite quickly deteriorate. Plants need replacing or changing more than perhaps we sometimes realise. Having the same garden for many years is wonderful in some ways because we see trees we have planted grow to be as we imagined but it can be difficult to make changes.

    • It had just rained when I took some of the images France’s, but yes my soil is very free draining. It is really just broken down rock, the same as the house is built with, I am trying to add as much organic material as I can to improve it’s ability to hold water but it needs so much.

      • really wish we could do a 50 50 swap Christina, for soil, I could use some broken rock in my peat, I wouldn’t wish the rain on anyone, not only is the soil soaking here but I realised recently that the concrete paths and tarmac roads haven’t dried out yet this year, not even in that thing called summer, Frances

        • I could take some of your rain very gratefully Frances, and some peat; but we can’t so I try hard (as I know you do too) to plant what will work here. It is difficult to know who has the worst gardening conditions. Christina

  10. I really like that Pistacia lentiscus, well worth the patience required. I have become fascinated about the way one changes one’s mind about size, shape and placement of both plants and paths depending on where you stand to view the scene. I am finding it particularly challenging in the front garden, where there are so many viewpoints that are important, but it is impossible to cater to them all. I really like the way you have re sculpted the path to make more sense from the terrace and house views, personally I would be tempted to mirror the fennel with another on the other side, giving something of the same feeling of framing but with more informality. Mind you, give that this is the area close to the house, perhaps an arch would echo the pergola perfectly and sort of stretch that area into the garden, helping the formal melt into the more informal. Hiding the new houses sounds like an excellent plan. Look forward to seeing more about how this area evolves. Love the teucrium, I have cuttings in the greenhouse and really must take more.

    • I also have lots of Teucrium cuttings growing in the greenhouse, they are such good plants, I’m toying with the idea of replacing some of the Perovskia in the formal beds with Teucrium balls. The Perovskia has reproduced itself a lot and I planted rather close initially to get the effect I wanted more quickly. I like the idea of having something more structural during the winter, but I will need a lot more cuttings if I decide to do this so it is a long term plan rather than something that will happen next year. It really helps talking this through, thank you.

  11. The Pistacia is a good choice – I come across it ever so often but don’t trust it to be hardy enough where we are, maybe I’m wrong. I’m presently developing the design of the orchard. It’s a challenging process. It’s the only area that has been left more or less untouched but it’s time for a change when you’re no longer happy with it.

  12. We bought our house in 2008 and are so much further than two years behind! I suspect you accomplished more in your first year than we did in 6!
    These pictures have really helped me put together your garden layout. I hadn’t realized the slope was as steep as it is and that the terrace overlooks the cutting gardens and vegetables, they’re always so hidden by the change in terrain.
    We’re always our worst critics. I think the before view is very satisfying and works well, but I see your points about the improvements to the path and how the new shrubs and trees will help. All my garden choices and arrangements seem to be plant driven, and I can see from yours that maybe this isn’t the best way to go about it 🙂
    I was curious when looking at your soil if you do any amendments. Here our cooler, moister soil holds compost and any other organic additions. Yours looks more mineral and obviously drier and maybe compost would be pointless? Your plants also seem to thrive on leaner conditions. Would you say that’s true?
    Have a great week!

    • My soil in broken down tuff, the stone the house is built from in fact, the stone actually came from the site. It needs organic materials to help it retain water, but it takes a long time and the part you saw in these photos hasn’t had any additions, it has all gone on beds I felt needed it even more. You’re right that my design isn’t plant driven, the plants fulfil the need that the design imposes. That means I design the shape and feel of an area then choose the plants that will produce the ‘look’ I am aiming at. Because it is so hot (usually) in summer and my soil us so free draining the plants do grow tough, I don’t often have to stake anything, actually I never stake which is probably why I didn’t stake enough in the cuttings bed where with regular irrigation the plants grew more laxly and soft.

      • thanks for the explanation. I guess soil improvement is a job everywhere and it’s almost always triage, putting what little resources you have into whichever spots need it most desperately!

        • I have noticed that the LH bed which hasn’t had much added compost except some manure around the roses has improved just with the fallen leaves and petals, nature does do the job of adding organic material as long as we aren’t too quick to clean up!

  13. It all looks good to me, Christina! Do you find that writing about it helps consolidate your thoughts? I’d be inclined to say that an arch might be too fussy there. I quite like Janet’s idea about mirroring the fennel. If you don’t use fennel, perhaps another pair of tall plants? I’m currently looking at a muddy square that’s got hornbeam hedges around it (as well as an orchard area) and thinking that’s my target for the winter. I have it in my head, now I just have to get on with it. The Long View is a great idea – I wish I was consistent enough to go for it!

    • Yes, writing about my ideas means that I have to think them through to a conclusion rather than in my head I could just be very vague. I agree about the arch that was a new thought while I was writing and I think it will spoil the link with the surrounding countryside which I really value in this part of the garden. Hearing other bloggers comments is the main reason I blog so I love hearing everyone’s views. Thank you for giving me yours.

  14. Oh, Christina, I always enjoy your long views! Speaking of an arch over the path near the fennel, I think that is an outstanding idea. I also really like your Pistacia lentiscus. It is in the same family with my Chinese pistache tree.

  15. It was really interesting to read your posts and all the comments, Christina – and your photos really show how different a garden can look from the ground and from above. I like to screen off parts of my garden to add an element of surprise, but I don’t know whether that would suit your garden which is generally more open. I was wondering if you could round off the corner of your island bed where one of your teucriums is and extend the gravel, but with something tall – like an obelisk or sculpture – instead of the teucrium where that right angle was. I am puzzled by the teucriums though as I am growing some from seed but I don’t think they will look like this and must check out the packet. What variety is yours?

    • Mine are the shrub Teucrium fruticans, you may have grown T. hyrcanicum (cats tails) which I also have and is a bit of a weed but tolerates drought so is welcome, if you have grown this one you may want to be careful is doesn’t take over. Surprise is a good feature to have and I would like some more secret aread but you can’t see all the garden from one place and so the element of surprise is given more by turning a corner and gaining a different view and seeing something that was maybe just hidden by planting rather than a structure.

      • Yes, that’s the teucrium I have sown so maybe it was your blog I first saw it on. I shall watch out for it once it is planed in the garden – it certainly germinated very readily. Even with high level views as well it is still difficult to appreciate the scale and layout of other people’s gardens unless they are experienced in person – photos can be very deceptive – perhaps we need to upload video footage….;)

          • I realised as I wrote that last comment that visiting in person was theoretically an option – but the Golfer and I are till trying to visit various parts of the UK we have not been to. But in the future – who knows? And of course you are welcome to visit us when you are in the UK.

            • I would love to come and see all your brickwork Cathy! It was really fun when I met Chloris and Julie from Peonies and Posies and even better when Chloris came here for the day. If you ever do decide to come to Italy you would be most welcome.

  16. Christina, I’m so far behind reading blogs lately but glad I took time to read about your ideas and progress for changing the bed in front of the terrace. The views you’ve shown here helped me connect the sections of your garden.

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