Local materials are conversation pieces



This bright micro-space reminds me of old-world courtyards that you may have explored in southern historic downtowns like New Orleans and Savannah. Tight spaces have such an incredible opportunity to draw people in and provide a sense of romance or intrigue.

Before the early spring update, this landscape had grown tired and suffered from last winters’ heavy snow. The arborvitae failed miserably, and we were thrilled to replace them with an authentic boxwood hedge flanked by stately blue holly. Fortunately, the multiple stem riverbirch remains healthy and produces fantastic shade in blazing August afternoons. The rich evergreen pachysandra groundcover (yes, this delicate beauty is evergreen) creates a lush green carpet under the birch and is a striking contrast to the fragrant, blue flowering catmint perennial.

Notice the Indiana snapped limestone bed edge snuggled in the foreground of the pachysandra? It behaves as a small seat wall and is a great resting place for candles, plates and drinks when entertaining. It’s a clever way to ease elevation changes and is a trusted conversation stimulant about using local materials and being environmentally friendly.

Without apologizing, the low slung, shocking green seating steals the show. Frankly, it’s not that comfortable, but the contemporary lines dazzle the space and fits well.  Strategy … a boring patio/tired deck can be instantly rescued with bold furniture, a colorful rug and a handful of accessories. Expect to spend more than you would prefer on stunning furniture, but it will be worth the investment and costs considerably less than a new patio.

Want to explore this courtyard more? Join the Carmel Clay Historical Society’s downtown garden tour June 15 with a celebratory conclusion at the featured garden discussed above from 3 to 6 p.m.

Hope to see you there.


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