Wildness reigns supreme here. The hope was to create a little oasis between two recently renovated cottages, leveraging existing hardscape and deck space, but blending into the steep hillside above. We took inspiration from Dutch designer - Piet Oudolf - using native pollinator plants and grasses planted in such a way that they feel more like a tended meadow than a formal landscape. We sourced plants from a fantastic native plant nursery and arranged the perennials in a "messy" way - breaking most of our own design rules for groupings of plants.
This design was a little more organic. The client trusted us with some broad design intentions, joined us for a quick shopping trip at a local garden center to confirm color preferences, and then left us to design on the fly. One of the main criteria was that the hillside would blend into the courtyard, and the plantings would feel wild, organic, and be attractive to bees and pollinators.
Unlike most designs where we pre-select a specific plant palette, on this project we went with our gut - picking plants that we knew matched the design brief, but arranging them on-site without a paper scheme to work off of. This meant we could have a little more freedom and make changes on the fly that we felt matched the client's wishes. While this is a little less predictable ahead of time, it is actually one of our favorite ways to work, especially with smaller spaces.
Our first big test was if we could keep trees in pots over the winter, which would give us more height and dimension in the space. Once we got through the first winter, we decided to edit the plan and plant the upper tree directly into the hillside, which made a huge difference for blending the separate spaces.
The site was mostly fill gravel around a septic tank, so we dug down 12-18" where we wanted planting areas to go, and hauled the debris off site. Then we brought in bagged soil and compost, and blended them in place, making sure the plants had the best chance possible to succeed. During planting, we brough a mix of plants that we knew would work well, and arranged on the fly. We then finished off with mulch and a heavy watering.
We expect the summer sweet clematis to start taking over the trellises in the coming years, and are working with a local stone mason to replace the green septic cover with a large stone, more effectively hiding that eyesore.
Our client was absolutely RAVING when she came home and saw the garden come to life! We checked in again in the Fall, and the plants had filled in, were wispy, wild and looked exactly like she had pictured.
Check back in over the next few years as we design and install the meadow on the upper hill.