About three years ago we embarked on a major overhaul of our garden. It is a fairly small garden situated on the slope of a canyon in Santa Barbara, California. The garden had been planted with a mish mash of everything from bamboo to citrus trees to drought tolerant shrubs. With our dry climate, keeping plants watered on the sandy soil slope was an ordeal. Even the drought tolerant shrubs were barely getting by. It needed to be terraced!
With the help of a landscape designer, we came up with a plan that would utilize the local sandstone to create paths, raised beds, patios and even a small fish pond. The walls were built to a comfortable seating height and a curved bench was built into one of the taller retaining walls. On the paths and patios we chose a tumbled flagstone set in mortar so it would be easy to sweep and maintain.
The Mediterranean gardens that I had seen locally and in Italy and Spain (and most of all on the pages of my numerous gardening books) were a big inspiration for the plantings. I kept the citrus trees and added an Acacia tree, a couple Olive trees, a couple Arbutus trees and several Italian Cypress trees. I filled in the landscape with roses, grapes, ground morning glory, lavender, rosemary and lots of other herbs.
It might be hard to see the details but you can get an idea of the overall garden from this planting plan:
The hardest part of the planting was to not over plant. With all that stark rock work in the beginning, it was so tempting to want to cram in too many plants. I did plant a few temporary fillers, and I tried to appreciate the beauty of the rock while waiting for my plants to soften the effect.
The garden has filled in now, but it continues to change. I still have countless projects to do. It will never be done. And I wouldn't have it any other way.