Transform your terrace in only few steps!

I’m so excited to share my first Garden Design with you!, as I explain on my profile, every project and its information is going to be public so you all can get ideas for your own garden needs.

Today’s design is about a particular “L” Shaped Terrace, the clients are a family of three, a mom and two daughters. They had 3 specific needs;

  • They wanted relaxing “tea time” area so they can have some friends in spring afternoons
  • A sunbathe private area for the summer
  • And a space for aromatic plants because they love to cook.


Let’s get started!

 The terrace is placed in the 4th and last floor, pointing to North, it means that each side of the garden is going to have sunlight for at least a couple of hours during the day. It turns convenient because every angle can be used depending on the needs. One thing to know about me is that I really struggle with unused spaces and stuff, I always try to have functional things and (obviously) space, I believe we should all enjoy every angle of our home and that’s what I’m doing here.

 

Plant selection:

Terrace floorplan

 

  1. Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
  2. Iris ‘Wedgwood’
  3. White Hortensias in tall containers (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  4. White Hortensias in tall containers (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  5. Hosta ‘Halcyon’
  6. Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’
  7. Coral bell (Heuchera x ‘Midnight Bayou’
  8. Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
  9. Festuca glauca
  10. Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’
  11. Aromatic herbs

 

THE NEW GARDEN

The new terrace design

Tea-time area

It was designed as a seating area, with an outdoor sofa in dark wood with cream cushions and a tea table in the same material.

  • On each side of the sofa, tall containers carry white hortensias (Hydrangea macrophylla) which will grant elegance to the terrace.
  • On the right side of the couch, star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) that gives privacy and in the same containers, a line of iris bulbs like Iris ‘Wedgwood’ for a touch of color and shapes during blooming time.

 These girls love maples so the main angle will be a perfect spot for some colorful maples, it could be a new sitting area in the future so having all the plants in separate containers can be a good option for those who love changes.

 So:

  • The same line of containers carries red and acid green maples. Those are filled with small ivy (Hedera helix) that gives a falling effect and different shapes to the garden.
  • Winter bulbs like snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) will make the difference in cold seasons, mixed in the same container with the ivy.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ is a 6m tall maple with yellow-green leaves and red coral branches visible during the winter. This maple is in constant color change, even in winter, when it has no leaves and the red brunches will give another shade to the garden.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ is a 5m tall maple, with dark red leaves that change into vibrant red in autumn.
  • Small but strong plants surround the A. p. ‘Sango-kaku’, like Hosta ‘Halcyon’ nice and compact shrub, loves partial sun to full shade, tall 35-40cm and 70cm wide. It has blue-grey heart-shaped leaves and grey-lavender bell-shaped flowers.
  • Another great shrub is the dramatic coral bell (Heuchera x ‘Midnight Bayou’) with red foliage, perfect for growing in containers and beautiful in contrast to green foliage plants. It grows well in partial sun, it is 30cm tall and 50cm wide, in summer it forms stems with white little flowers.
  • Next to the A. p. ‘Bloodgood’ goes the or blue fescue  (Festuca glauca), an evergreen grass, tall 30cm and blue-gray foliage of erect tufts, it stands up under the red maple foliage.

Sunbathing in an orchard

 Some aromatics will help these girls relax while sunbathing, a free space and seating area that’s not visible from the tea area, thanks to the shape of the terrace and the plant selection.

  • The aromatics selection is always easy and hard at the same time, all of them are beautiful and tasty. Perennial shrubs like rosemary, chives, and sage will work just fine to look at and to cook. Other herbs like basil and parsley are placed in separate containers so they can rotate and change them in winter.
  • Other annual plants are dispersed around the terrace, like geraniums (Pelargonium) that they can alternate every year with bulbs.
  • Another small shrub will look good here and it’s the evergreen known as elephant’s ears (Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’); It has rounded deep green leaves that turn into purple in winter, it’s 60cm tall and it’s perfect to help the garden looking alive in winter.

 

There it is!

It’s all about colors during the different seasons, contrasts between colors and shapes is all it takes to start a good project, I hope you’ve enjoyed it!.

 

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Italy’s Beautiful Gardens: Villa del Balbianello

We are in beautiful Italy, it’s summer, it’s sunny and there’re big quantities of gelato.

Last Sunday I decided to visit Villa del Balbianello in Lake Como (North Italy), somehow I always thought about this kind of places to be full of tourist and I rather go first to the “local” places, but, obviously, there’s a reason why they are so famous, and I’m glad I finally did it (after a long time, may I add).

Villa del Balbianello is part of the Italian National Trust (Fondo Ambiente Italiano – FAI) which owns a list of awesome historic buildings and gardens. Villa del Balbianello had existed since the 13th century and its firsts residents were Franciscan Monks. In 1785, the Villa was purchased and the changes in the building and gardens started, along with new owners until 1988, when its last owner died.

Guido Monzino, the last owner, was a renowned Milanese businessman, art collector and a passionate traveler who left the Villa, the Gardens, the furnishing to the Italian National Trust; He also donated a dowry which still helps to cover the Villa and Gardens maintenance.
Since then, they have renovated the Villa and partly turned it into a private Museum with Monzino’s art collection, memorabilia from his famous expeditions to the North Pole and the Everest (between 1971 and 1973) and, they’ve also renovated the Gardens.

Villa del Balbianello

The Gardens

This time I only entered the Gardens, the thing I love the most and what I wanted to show you.

The gardens frame the Villa, they’re developed in different floors and paths, as they follow the rocky mountain shape. From the beginning the big shaped Platanus acerifolia stand out, a nice Magnolia and alternating Hydrangeas follow the paths. Then, as you keep walking, the Lake takes control of the view, it just blends with the gardens like a perfect painting.

The most interesting thing about this garden is that, because of the rugged terrain, they couldn’t design a formal “Italian garden” nor a romantic “English garden”, so, they had to work and create paths around the Villa and make a unique space that gives you the opportunity to enjoy the lake from different angles. You really get to discover different scenarios just by descending the paths.

They made a pact, between the formality of the design and the “informality” of the nature when they design the Gardens.

Numerous statues guard the surroundings of the Villa and get to watch the Lake through every season.

Plant Selection

  • Wisteria sinensis: full of color in late spring and early summer
  • Hedera helix: covering some walls facing the lake
  • Agapanthus: that welcome you if you arrive by boat
  • Buxus sempervirens: elegant and a formal icon from antique gardens

You can use some of this plants to make your garden a “Royal Garden“, it’s always worth to invest in some strong and long-lasting plants, you’ll get your reward, trust me.

Agapanthus

Also, you probably recognize the name of this Villa because of its appearances on Hollywood films since 1990, like:

  • A month by the Lake (John Irvin – 1995)
  • Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones ( I said “probably”. By George Lucas in 2002)
  • Casino Royale (Martin Campbell – 2006)

Quick tip: if you don’t like crowded places, like I do, just try to go early in the morning, there’s basically no line, your photos will be better and the lights are really favorable in the morning, plus, if you want a summer selfie, your face won’t be all shiny and sweaty 🙂
You have to walk/hike (nothing complicated) a few minutes to arrive to the actual Villa.
Also, I took the bus to get to the Villa; It’s about 45min from the Lake Como’s bus station and the price was around 6$ round trip. Lenno is the name of the village and the bus stop.

 

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Marrakesh discoveries: Majorelle Garden

This time, I’m trying to give my blog a new and fresh direction, so today, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite trips I took this year. The destination: Morocco.

Last spring we (my partner and I) decided to go for the first time to Africa, this sunny and kind continent that we knew nothing about, its people, its food, culture… we knew nothing, so we booked a flight to the nearest and convenient place for both of us. I mean, I wanted to see some gardens, my BF wanted to do some surfing and both of us needed to eat some good stuff.

So, we arrived into chaotic Marrakesh, where we were welcome with some mint tea and amazing cookies (already in love with the city).
I dedicated myself to find some good green spots (very difficult, especially the “green” part) to visit while relaxing at the Riad near to the city center, although, the riad had some vines, cactus and rose smell that make you feel in a natural place from the moment you arrive.

Our first visit was to the Majorelle Garden and it was so worth it! here’s why:

Majorelle Garden is a Villa where a Botanical Garden take place along with an Archaeological Museum. It took us about an hour to visit the gardens but you can bring a book and relax sitting in the shade of their palm trees and bamboo selections.

A public open space diverse from others in Marrakesh, with nice refreshing and shade areas designed by the French painter Jaques Majorelle, passionate about botanics and gardening, who put heart and soul to the gardens and it shows.

Jaques Majorelle bought the villa in 1923 and also, a rare variety of trees and plants for over 40 years, creating this unique and relaxing space.

Plants from the five continents:

– Cactus,
– Palm trees,
– Agaves,
– Bamboo,
– Coconut palms,
– Thuyas,
– Willows,
– Bouganvilleas,
– Tree ferns, among others.

This was the first time I saw a plant selection like this in the harmony of a real open garden, it was different, eye-catching, beautiful and surprisingly fresh.

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the Jardin Majorelle in 1980. They renamed it Villa Oasis, and undertook the restoration of the garden in order to “make the Jardin Majorelle become the most beautiful garden – by respecting the vision of Jacques Majorelle.”.

Automatic irrigation systems were installed, adjusting the distribution of water according to hours during the day and to the specific needs of each plant. New plant species have been added since 1999, increasing the total number from 135 to 300. A team of 20 gardeners once again began working to maintain the garden, its ponds, and fountains” – Jardin Majorelle

Few of the most interesting species in the garden:

  • Echinocactus grusonii: known as golden barrel cactus or mother-in-law cushion (pretty funny), is a spherically shaped cactus, endemic to east-central Mexico. It can reach 1m tall with sharp spines from yellow to white colors. It looks great in rock gardens, it obviously needs its space and it blossoms after 20 years old, so, if you like it, buy it for the beautiful shape.
Echinocactus grusonii (left) and Agave macroacantha (right corner)
  • Pilosocereus azureus: columnar Cactaceae with beautiful blue stems, hairy areoles, and golden spines. It’s very interesting for indoor spaces because of its slow growth, blue color and big flowers that cover the stems during the summer.
Pilosocereus azureus (Pinterest research)
  • Carnegia gigantea: known as Saguaro, you probably relate it to western films (I do), it is a tree-like cactus with white flowers from April to June and it goes from 12m to 21m tall. Very flashy.
Carnegia gigantea (Pinterest research)

 

Other views of the garden

Quick tip: go early, that way you can take good photos and relax if you want to 🙂

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