(Detail of my garden)
It's that time of year again when a girl's fancy turns to all things abloom. Visions of picnics and chairs dragged out on the lawn and watering cans and flowered gloves and a tea table heaped with hot scones and lashings of jam and butter come immediately to mind.
(Illustration by George du Maurier, 1834-1896)
Yes, I am an utter romantic when it comes to my Lilliputian grassy kingdom, and I make no apologies.
My own garden, however, is still in "Early Eliza Doolittle" phase. We have privacy, a pool and a new troupe of grass seedlings busy making a brilliant fledgling debut, but not much else.
Most of the gardens in my neighborhood have been transformed into wondrous outdoor living areas. They are truly incredible; however, the downside is that they have given up most of their lawn in the process. In place of grass, there are hardscaped dining areas, stone fire pits, pebbled pathways, fountains, petanque alleys and other assorted features.
But I'm reluctant to give up my plot of verdant turf...and therein lies the rub.
You see, I don't own a dog, but I have a son, which amounts to much the same thing.
Luca uses that grassy stomping ground to chase his friends, lie on a blanket and read, and hurl as many types of balls as high, far and fast as he can.
I can't bear to take that away from him.
And, to be perfectly honest, I love looking out my kitchen window and seeing that little swath of green. It's an enchanted Arcadia to me.
I do have some immediate plans, though.
1. I want to plant potato vines...
...beneath the wall of ficus trees that extend the length of the property and let their pale green tendrils clamber up the branches and sprout delicate little white flowers. (The restaurant Ceccconi's in West Hollywood does this and it's wonderfully effective in adding texture and drama to a living wall.)
2. Over in the corner behind the pool, I plan to erect a wooden pergola and then create some kind of reading/dining area beneath it. It's especially lovely to sit somewhere and gaze back at the house (it creates the feeling of more space), so I want to make the most of this little visual illusion. I will paint the structure in Railings from Farrow and Ball, which is the most wonderful blue-black...
(color via here)
...and then cover it with pale, pale pink flowers in a color like this:
(color via here)
What kind, I don't know, as I am a novice gardener of the highest order. (Any ideas?)
3. Next, I would like to find some pale grey cement planters and perch them around the edge of the pool so that it feels like a little Victorian bathing pond. Whatever type of plant goes in them needs to be sturdy, structured and unprickly.
(photo via Bardy Farms)
4. I'll leave one corner by the pool bare to give me room for one of these cement poufs from Harbinger LA which I absolutely can't stop thinking about (they come in 25 colors). They'll look even better after a couple of years in the sun, wind and rain -- they'll be seasoned, literally.
5. A beloved tree which gracefully overarches the pool...
...and which we adamantly refused to chop down...
Pool Contractor: But the leaves will make a mess.
Us: Isn't that what a skimmer is for?
...will gain an extra function with a wooden seat encircling it, á la this photo of designer Peter Dunham:
(photo via here)
5. Other than that, I guess our garden furniture will have to be restricted to the portable kind for now. But as I mentioned in the opening of the post, there's something wonderfully old-school about dragging indoor furniture outside. Plus, it gives you the freedom to create whatever type of environment you like, whether you seek to emulate the civilized luxury of a Victorian fete...
...or something a bit more sybaritic.
(Photo by Lee Miller of Nusch and Paul Eluard,
Man Ray and others, Cannes, 1937)
It's a work in progress. I'll report back.