Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Progress In The Courtyard

When we  bought our wonderful house it was winter. The landscape here in winter is filled with beautiful light but kind of frozen beige dirt. Our house was kind of plopped down and the previous owner hadn't done anything outside at all (a small amount near the front door which is really the "back" ) - I call the front the view part we gaze at all the time!

We knew we wanted a courtyard but questions about size, location, height etc were things we couldn't answer since we hadn't lived here long enough to know sun patterns, wind direction etc etc. Anyway, here are a few shots of the house before we did anything.

I wanted some elevation changes, swales for water collection and it takes a lot of "rock" to make courtyard areas and pathways etc. We also thought it would be good to put in a low spot and buried pipe for the "epic" rains that mainly occur once a year or something.

After laying things out with hoses and  making lines for height etc etc the design was made, courtyard constructed and then the inside contouring started. I found uses for extra beams we had bought for the catio and came up with the design as things went along. Here are some shots of how it is evolving.

The fake rock river has a pipe under it so if collected water gets too high (doesn't absorb fast enough) it will flow away.

These steps lead up to the built in sunset watching bench.

We are out here at the table every night since the sun sets on the other side of the house and it is shaded. I also like coffee out here with the nifty morning light - my favorite!

Inside this little triangle there will be "birds of paradise" bushes that are about 10 feet. They aren't like the heliconia but are rainfall only, pretty leaf with red and yellow profusions of flowers and will stay low enough so we can still see the mountain from inside the catio. I'll be pretty. I want to get compost though to raise the area a little.

This is the bench area. When you sit here you can see the snake shape of the wall and also the cool sculpture.

The bunny/bird/chipmunk room is where all the action is. You can see it from the kitchen table, the built in bench, the master bedroom chair, the patio spot. Grand Central Station with multiple scaled quail, the chipmunk and lots of rabbits shooting in and out the opening I made for them!

This small tree (vitex/chaste) will get to be a smallish nicely shaped tree that gets covered with lilac like blooms all summer long. The shade will be welcome and it is deciduous. Last but not least there is the catio. Awesome view from sitting in the chairs. Cool shadows, very private, out of wind and I am spending a lot more time out there than I thought I would!

So I will be putting a compost mound alongside the dry river to be planted with native grasses, ice plants, agastache, salvia and some permanent barberry and cottoneaster. Right now I just have dill and pumpkins and zucchini while I work out the permanent stuff. For fall the mound will have carrots and winter veggies. I have planted chocolate flower, scabiosa, four o clocks, salvias, russian sage. Sunflowers have been deposited by birds and the chipmunk. Inside the dog run area I have straw bales with pink bumblebee tomatoes, raswayna tomatoes, black zebras, strawberries, squash. There is a black knights butterfly bush that will soon overhang the rabbit room and things are looking good! I have MANY small seedlings dispersed over the acre that are slowly growing and as long as they don't get eaten this winter and they don't freeze in epic weather it should start looking quite a bit different this time next year.