Small Space Garden Plan

Turn a skinny piece of yard into a lush woodland and water wonderland.

Water feature surrounded by Chasmanthium latifolium Tradescantia ‘Blue and Gold’, beside Bergenia cordifolia and Anemone x hybrida Tradescantia ‘Blue and Gold’ Juncus effuses ‘Unicorn’, Cyperus papyrus, Gunnera manicata Gunnera manicata

Less than 1.5 m (5 ft.) wide, this narrow space running between the house and the front walkway looks like a lush woodland garden. Water flows from a water feature resembling three big leaves into a pond, the focal point in the centre of the bed. Beneath the water feature, shade-loving grass, ferns and groundcovers are planted to fill in and hide the metal stands. The plants in the water are on blocks so only the lower half of each pot is submerged, leaving the crown above the water. This growing method keeps the Gunnera manicata – which usually grows as high as 1.8 m (6 ft.) or more – to a more manageable .5-m (11⁄2 ft.) height. In climates below zone 7, gunnera should be kept indoors for winter. The feathery papyrus is also vulnerable to winter’s chill, and must be brought inside before the first frost or replaced the following spring. Happily, it is easy to propagate, says garden designer Kelly Schroeder of Heritage Perennials: “Simply cut off the top flowerhead and place it upside down submerged in a bowl of water. Within two weeks you will see little sprouts growing up from the bottom of the centre of the flowerhead. This is an easy way of getting new plants for the next season.” Next to the papyrus, the full, light-green leaves of Hosta plantaginea make an interesting textural contrast. Just alongside the hosta, and with the bold gunnera as a neighbour, Corydalis ‘Blackberry Wine’ holds its own with its powdery blue-green leaves and clusters of plum-coloured flowers. The nearby Bergenia cordifolia ‘Bressingham Ruby’ is at its best in winter when the foliage turns a deep maroon. Reinforcing the textural variations in this bed is Tradescantia ‘Blue and Gold’; in summer its lovely blue flowers enhance the chartreuse-yellow foliage. On the opposite corner, Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’ boasts big, semi-double flowers. To facilitate watering the garden – part of which is under the eaves – in-ground irrigation was installed, and this helps maintain the verdant look that is so attractive. Small-Space Garden Plan

1. Chasmanthium latifolium (northern sea oats) (2) – zone 5 2. Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) (2) – zone 3 3. Liriope muscari ‘Pee Dee Ingot’ (lily-turf) (5) – zone 6 4. Juncus effusus ‘Unicorn’ (corkscrew rush) (1) – zone 4 5. Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Variegatum’ (ornamental comfrey) (1) – zone 4 6. Cyperus papyrus (papyrus) (1) frost-tender perennial
7. Hosta plantaginea (fragrant plantain lily) (1) – zone 2 8. Anemone x hybrida (windflower) (2) – zone 5 9. Tradescantia ‘Blue and Gold’ (sweet kate) (3) – zone 3 10. Bergenia cordifolia ‘Bressingham Ruby’ (pig-squeak) (3) – zone 2 11. Corydalis ‘Blackberry Wine’ (fumitory) (5) – zone 5 12. and 13. Gunnera manicata (giant rhubarb) (2) – zone 7