A steep slope of weeds and blackberries at my new garden has become a stone stairway of beauty ! It leads up to a revamped swimming pool. I chose to limit the colours to shades of blue and chartreuse green. The stones used for each step are rough and flat, but very thick . This looks (to me, anyway), very ‘English’, as seen in the Cotswolds.I liked these stones because of their whitish colour. So many of our local stones are black. I found them at our local stone yard, Adera Stone. It was quite funny, as it appeared they were priced at .99 cents per ton ! I said I would take them all (5 pallets). The salesperson agreed that was a great bargain….. then he flicked a perfectly fallen (and perfectly circular) Katsura leaf off of the sign. They were $99.00 a ton. I still bought them. The stone staircase twists and turns a bit, to make the journey more interesting. One rough stone = one step.
A spectacular show being put on by Campanula ‘Waterfall’ contrasts with lime green dabs of Sedum ‘Angelina’. The David Austin rose ‘Tea Clipper’ is on the left. It has large ‘antique-looking’ double flowers in a gorgeous soft peach colour. It smells like tea!
This is a fantastic shrub rose, with a great perfume – nice on the way up to the revamped swimming pool at the top of the stairs! Just barely visible at the top is one of a pair of large wooden planters (from Restoration Hardware) containing a small Weeping Silver-Leaf Pear (Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’). I cut about 6′ off the tops off of them when I bought them, and planted basically two foot stumps with roots ! These branched out immediately, and I created short little trees this way. These are hardy substitutes for Olive trees, which don’t make it through our winters. They add a Mediterranean touch to the large pool terrace and require very little care. I underplant them with the fabulous annual Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’. This forms a solid carpet of pure silver foliage that spills over and down the sides of my lovely planters.
The yellow daisy is a bit too yellow for my taste, but I originally planted it for its grey foliage. It is an Oregon native called Eriophyllum lanatum, and was a gift from Sean Hogan, Portland’s great nurseryman and owner of that city’s Cistus Nursery. I shave it of flowers as soon as it is finished blooming. Just above it in this photo are some stems of Romneya coulteri , the California Tree Poppy. This will become enormous and can ‘have’ this area, I hope. It produces great big white ‘poppies’ with showy yellow centres. The flowers are very fragrant and bloom on 6′ stalks in a big thicket when happy. Happiness for this plant means a HOT sunny slope. PERFECT ! Many people lose this plant and waste lots of money by not giving it what it evolved in…. a bit of California !
Dianthus ‘Coconut Surprise’ is widely available and utterly charming. Not straggly at all, this perennial cutie is growing in almost pure gravel. I have given it a dose of liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer and voila ! It has also sprouted a few seedlings in the gravel path and they are almost the same, but charmingly single-flowered !
Once up the stairs, there is a large stone patio area inside a pre-existing cedar hedge. Sixty-five white hydrangeas form a simple border and soften the transition from the vertical to the horizontal. Six-foot wicker benches provide extra seating, and keep this area simple and ‘modern’.The pool was my dream of what a pool could be. All that was used from the previous, hideous pool that was there before is the 20′ x 40′ hole in the ground ! Now I just have to learn how to swim.