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gillespieza
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What should I do with this space?

What should I (or could I?) plant in this space?

Image

Its almost entirely sand (probably beach sand, given the quantity of broken sea shells - yes, we're close to the ocean, it was probably a beach 100 years ago), but that can be amended with compost (assuming it isn't also salty).

The main problem (I think) is this alley doesn't get much direct sunlight - about 4 hours a day in mid-summer. I don't know how much it gets in winter yet (haven't live here long enough). It does get quite a lot of reflected light off the fence on the left though, so even though it isn't in direct sunlight, it is still relatively bright.

I would have loved to grow either succulents or sprawling veggies here (eg squashes and sweet potato), but I don't think it gets enough light.

The other problem is one of my dogs likes to run up and down the fence, barking at the neighbour's dog on the other side of the fence, so I'll need to protect anything I plant until its big enough to fend off a little terrier.

Shade plants might do alright here - or maybe I should just pave the entire area and do a shady container garden? Any suggestions or advice?
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rainbowgardener
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Re: What should I do with this space?

That could be a beautiful space! I wouldn't pave it, though mixing in a few big containers is nice for height variation.

I can't begin to say what kind of shade to part shade plants would be good for South Africa, but start by looking around for some ideas.

Do a search on "alley garden images" and you will find lots of beautiful inspirations:

https://www.google.com/images?client=saf ... d=0CB0QsAQ

Look at this one:

https://artofgardeningbuffalo.blogspot.c ... alley.html

and think about putting a seating area at the end, maybe a bench along the blank wall. Put a gate or garden arch at the beginning to mark the entrance to this really nice little space....

You can put some trellis up on the fence, tuck in a little water feature/ fountain of some kind....
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gillespieza
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Re: What should I do with this space?

That is a gorgeous side alley garden! I predict I'm going to spend the rest of the night on Pinterest looking for inspiration. Thanks ;)
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gillespieza
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Lavender is pretty hardy - do you think it would do well in such low light?
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Gilles, In zone 10, lavender, skullcap, maybe basil, bay laurel, would all be a worth a trial. Their herbal success will suggest your next trials.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Rosemary is salt tolerant and doesn't need as much light as lavender.

...is there a zone 10 equivalent of blueberries? Maybe something like beach plum too?
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Greetings, Your pup needs to be spoken to, maybe a low fence for the area you want to plant.

gillespieza, Please continue planting, we'll send seeds if necessary.

Like throwing cakes to a bear.

Is that razor around the upper fence line? Is that to keep something out or in?

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Re: What should I do with this space?

Hi Richard - yes, it is razor wire. It's terribly ugly. I assume it's too keep burglars out (and before anyone asks, yes it is legal in residential areas in South Africa). It was here when we moved in. It's very good at collecting cat collars ;-)

We do plan to remove it (I mean, there's no point to razor wire on a side that doesn't face the street, IMHO), we just haven't got around to it yet. :-) Having said that, it makes a great trellis for my granadilla on the other side of the house, so perhaps I should just cover it with a vine?

And there's no speaking to the pup. I think terrier is a synonym for terror ;-) I plan to temporarily fence off any tender plantings until they get established...
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Re: What should I do with this space?

I do like Rainbow's idea of turning the side yard into a little hideaway. There are some salt and shade tolerant plants out there

Asparagus
daylily
Bay leaf
fatsia japonica
Some of the plants in this list are for the Southern part of U.S. but are close to your zone. Either they or their relatives might work for you.

https://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/files/librar ... Plants.pdf
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Now that I'm on a computer where it is easier to post pics, I thought I would show a couple of the inspiration pics about what can be done with long, narrow, kind of shady spaces.


Image
https://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5mJGEVvBCgc/T ... oto002.jpg

Image
https://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/feature ... alley2.JPG
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Hi, Didn't realize you live in SA. I'd leave it up as long as it's there. There are places on our properties where it would be nice to have it barbed wire does only so much and growing bramble is not an option. We have mountain lion and bear, while a six foot fence with hot wires can stop some creatures a roll of razor wire might be the topping on the cake.

I would like to know more about SA, there are several forum members,I have noticed, who post from there, I've been considering PM, to understand more of what is there.

This is your growing season, we in the States are enjoying or suffering winter. Have a good season, I'll look for your posts and pictures.

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Re: What should I do with this space?

Hi Richard - I wish the razor was for something as exotic as lions or bears (or hippos), but alas, the nearest large beasties are in parks and reserves, miles and miles away. I live in the city, where razor is only used for home security :-( I do live near a river though, so lots of birds ;-)

I'll post progress photos on the progress board (I posted pics of my Potager garden there already).

So, I'm thinking there might be too much light for ferns and delicious monsters?

I like the idea of bamboo (in a large pot though, to control it), but I'm not sure bamboo and lavender would "go" together? I mean If I went bamboo, that's quite a tropical / oriental look, while Rosemary and lavender have a much more Mediterranean feel, and I don't know if mixing the two styles would really work (besides the very different water requirements).

I've seen some fantastic ideas on Pinterest. And thanks Rainbow, for the pics - those are lovely!

Imafan - thanks for the plant list! I'm going to go through it now :-)
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Depends a little re the light. If it is morning sun, the ferns would probably be ok if kept well mulched in good organic soil (you are going to have to amend the soil a lot for things like that) and watered. The same 4 hours of hot afternoon sun would be a lot harder for the ferns to deal with.

The rosemary and lavender would like your sandy soil and it wouldn't need nearly as much amendment. Technically the lavender likes full sun, but since I don't have very much full sun areas and I like lavender, I grow it in half day sun areas and it does OK. Doesn't get as big as it would with more sun, but it doesn't die and does flower.

You actually have quite a bit of ground to play with there. If the walkway is 3' wide, then it looks like the ground must be about 5' wide by as long as the house. I would break it up into different beds, with something like the bench in between, and maybe do something to give parts of it curved edges or break up all the straight lines. You could pave in parts of it with brick or gravel or just mulch to make some curves. You could also have some thing(s) going perpendicular to the fence line, like a small screen or making a perpendicular bench. You probably have enough room to make something like a little seating corner in the center of the area with a parallel bench and then a perpendicular bench and maybe an arch over them.

Here's a sample picture of a fence line garden with curving edges:
Image

If you look closely, behind the green hanging vase, you will see a wooden screen placed perpendicular to the fence line. Also note placement of round containers and stones towards the front to help break up straight lines. As a general design principle, note the sloping of taller plants at the back down to low plants and ground cover type stuff in front. And a variety of different textures and materials. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will notice that the pile of rocks between the hanging vase and the wooden screen is actually a small water feature, like I mentioned. Very nice. Also hanging baskets put a pop of color up at eye level where it has a lot more impact. You probably do have enough room for some shrubs or small trees.

I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of what you do with it. Understand that something like the picture here didn't happen over night; it would have been developed over some years.
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Why not plant climbers along the fence with a 1 foot wide raised bed. Sugar snap peas that grow 6 feet high would reach the sun as they grew. I think the runner bean with its nice flowers would work great along the fence a climbing nasturian also! lots of climbing things out there its not a drive way and would make a nice greenhouse in the winter converted over to a garden in the summer! Plastic and 2 by 4,s would make a quick greenhouse between the wall and fence!
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Re: What should I do with this space?

PS You do have some windows looking on to that side yard. I would look out those windows and think about composing little "scenes" that will be nice to look at from the windows.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

I know coconuts are salt tolerant, but I don't know much else about their needs. I am sure they need a lot of sun though. They grow tall so they might get more sun that way. Still, probably too narrow of a space for them though.

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Re: What should I do with this space?

@rainbowgardener - I love the hydrangeas in that picture!
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Re: What should I do with this space?

I have no idea if they grow in your climate and soil; I think they need some cold dormancy. But if not, I imagine you could find something that gives a similar effect. Like I said, you have plenty of room for stuff like that. Think big! :) I think it has much more impact to have the mix of tall and little plants, than just a row of small stuff.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

I think it was iron grindings dad put under the hydrangeas to turn the flowers blue. I don't remember them going dormant on the ranch.



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Re: What should I do with this space?

I keep thinking about your space and imagining it beautiful. :) To start with, I would take down the razor wire and then paint the fence... a nice blue or dark green or redwood or brick colored... It will give you a nice hit of color, but once there are shrubs and trees, maybe a trellis etc, , it won't be so massive and will be more like peeps of color showing through.

I keep thinking about benches. Because you don't have planting areas on both sides, you don't want a bench in the middle of the ground side looking at the blank wall (even though you can put a narrow planter with a trellis on that wall). And you don't have room on the walk way to have a bench facing the garden (unless you want to redo part of the walkway to curve out past the bench which might be kind of cool). So I was thinking two benches perpendicular to the fence facing each other to make a conversation area. Sort of like this:

Image
https://www.amishtraditions.com/images/l ... enches.jpg

though this is the very fancy version and it wouldn't need to be. Could be smaller and simpler and even home made. I would want the bench backs to be trellis so you could grow stuff up it, which would blend it in to the garden better. Think about grapevine, with bunches of grapes dangling down from the overhead cross pieces. :)

Don't mind me, I'm just throwing things out to stimulate your imagination, because I got charmed by the idea.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

You may be able to grow hydrangeas. I can in zone 12a in shade and keeping them moist. You might have to add some organic matter to the soil since it is sandy to help hold water.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

@Rainbowgardener all these ideas are so inspiring - I've created a "Side Alley" board on Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/gillespieza/ga ... de-allies/)

;) (I'm gillespieza on pinterest too)
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Beautiful! I do think it helps to have some models for inspiration. You made a beautiful page of them.

The house I have is basically at the top of a very long hill. The little front yard has been flattened, but most of the rest of our long, skinny property slopes down in two directions. The main flat area in the back was a grey concrete patio with an ugly broken down solid wooden fence around it on 3 sides making it look like the yard was nothing but a little box.

I found a beautiful inspiration photo to model after and now people love it. Fence is gone, I hired someone to cut grooves in the patio to make it look like large pavers, and stained it terra cotta. It has gardens along the three sides, one of which is a half circle. I put two raised beds on top of it and a fire pit and seating area. There's a pond in a garden at the entrance to it and a bit of statuary here and there. Tree in a big pot.

Which brings me to next point. If your brick walk didn't exist, I would have done something freer, with some curve. But like my patio, I think your walk is kind of a given. I considered having the patio jackhammered out (harder than removing your bricks), but decided not only would it be very expensive, but the soil under it would be totally dead, worthless and I would end up having to grow in raised beds anyway. I think a similar consideration applies to you. Removing and redoing the walkway would be very expensive and/or a ton of work. Under the brick will be some inches of paver sand and under that will be very compacted soil.

I think working with the givens is part of the design challenge! I do think starting from what you have, you can still make it beautiful.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Well, the brick walkway is not set in stone (pardon the atrocious pun). It was there when we moved in, but the brickwork is rather shoddy, and worse, it is slanted toward the house, so in conjunction with the broken gutteres (we'll get to replacing them before the rainy season starts, promise!) we have a rising damp problem. So we had planned to relay that section anyway, perhaps with a French drain toward the back garden (there is an ever so slight slope).

So I am totally open to completely redoing the paving.

I recall someone saying to me not to have a flowerbed right up against the foundations (for damp problems) - anyone heard of that or agree with that?
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Re: What should I do with this space?

On a different topic.. if you like lots of color and want to jazz it up as in the first pic I posted, you could paint your fence uprights a contrasting color to the horizontal fencing.

And if you want to dress up the long blank wall some (along with trellis), there is this:

Image

Since you do have windows in that wall. Since (at least some?) are casement windows, it probably wouldn't work to have things sitting on a sill, but you could just hang window box type planters, below the window.


And I think you are right as in one of your pinterest pics - if behind the blank end wall is back yard, then that should be opened up, to be wrought iron or something else that lets air and light through and lets you see glimpses of the yard behind.

I hope you are as excited about this project as I am! :) If you didn't live half the world away, I would volunteer to come help! Don't forget to take before, during, and after pictures and show us.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

I haven't been making plant suggestions, because I don't know anything about what grows there, but I saw this and thought of your space.


Image
https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3373/5792 ... cca3_b.jpg

All the pinks and reds are caladiums, which come in a whole range of pinks, reds, whites, variegations, white with green, etc etc. They are a tropical shade plant. For me, they have to be dug and stored for the winter, but for you I'm pretty sure they would be hardy all year.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Your enthusiasm augments my own enthusiasm! I can hardly wait to start - but first I need to thoroughly research some plant choices (I can't tell you how much money I've wasted on plants that died, over the years - probably due to poor planning on my part), sketch a plan for the area, paint the fence, decide on a colour first (I like the alternate upright colour plan!), fix the gutters and decide what to do about the paving before planting anything.

I probably won't do any benches or anything, because the hubby and I are really not outdoor people (I know, right - and yet I garden? WTH? LOL).

What I will do is plan various focal points so that looking out the windows of my office and the lounge gets the most impact.

We are also planning on replacing the windows with tilt-and-turn windows (which open inwards), which will necessitate spanish style exterior burglar guards - perfect for hanging plants and things :) (yes, burglar guards are essential [and butt ugly, IMHO] in South African homes, due to the high rate of home burglaries).

And we are going to build a proper wall/fence in the front garden so the doggies can't escape (our current garden fence is knee high), which means that either we can remove the wall and gate at the top of the alley you see in the pic, or rather, replace it with something less ugly (it might be useful to occasionally be able to lock the dogs in the front or back yard, for whatever reason).

So I need to finish all this "construction" first, I think. Still, its fun to plan!
Last edited by gillespieza on Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Ooo, I like the caladiums - the shape would complement the shape of delicious monsters, but with colour! And that ivy - I already have a similar looking ivy growing on the other side of the house. Perhaps I could transplant some (although it spreads pretty invasively). And I like the flagstone path - less labour intensive (and hence less expensive) than re-laying a paved walkway...

For plant choices, I thought, if I move the walkway, a "hedge" of sword ferns (eg the Boston sword fern - but not that one because that is classed as an alien invasive plant here) up against the foundations would look nice - I know these must be hardy plants, because my mom had some in her garden when I was growing up, so they must tolerate neglect very well ;)

I also absolutely love love love tree ferns (I know they take ages to grow), so I'm guessing a kind of tropical look is going to start emerging if I continue along that vein.

Which means: delicious monsters, perhaps some agapanthus (grows fantastically here in the Cape - especially if you get the winter-rainfall variety, not the rarer summer rainfall variety, although they prefer sunlight in order to flower). Perhaps some variegated hostas for a change in colour (but I've never seen them for sale here in SA - not that I've specifically looked for them, mind you), impatience (because they are low maintenance, I think?), some shade-tolerant ornamental grasses for texture (maybe Mondi grass?), some asparagus fern, foxtail fern or maidenhair ferns for texture, some clivias (I already have 2 in containers). Maybe some persian shield for the interesting colour.

Of course, I'll limit the plant choices and repeat, rather than having ALL of them - otherwise it might look very cluttered. And because its mostly shady, I'll focus on dramatic foliage and texture, rather than flowers.

Maybe a couple of cast iron chairs in case we do decide to sit outside in the cool - although I'll probably end up using the chairs as stands for something pretty in a pot. Some ornaments, like a plain urn, or some empty pots or cement balls or something...

In the Western Cape (South Africa), I'm not exactly in a tropical climate, but I do know most of those plants grow well here if they get enough water in the dry summer period. Or at least, they seem to not die off in my friends' gardens' ;).

My climate is "Mediterranean" - cool wet winters, dry hot summers, some very windy periods. No frost or snow - I'm on the coast. Winter temperatures are about 10-15C [50-50 F] (very occasionally cooler if the inland areas get snow on top of their mountains). Summer temperatures are frequently in their 30s [around 90 F]

So... if anyone has experience with any of these plants and can offer tips or anything (or even alternative suggestions), please feel free :)
Last edited by gillespieza on Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Well you are absolutely right that this is a multi-year plan "we" ( :) ) have been developing and the first step has to be the hardscaping, like walkway and fence.

I can't imagine after you do all this, not wanting to sit out in it, but to each his own. But I still recommend at least A little bench somewhere. If you notice as in picture 2 I posted with the blue bench, it kind of breaks things up, from just whole bunch of plants. The cottage garden thing, especially done on such a large scale, has to be done a little carefully not to just look weedy. You are exactly right about the focal points/ vignettes, not only to make nice views out the window, but to give some structure in the garden. A bench could be one and if it ends up being a plant bench instead of a people bench, that's ok too. My deck has an 8' long bench that we built specifically to be a plant bench and it is great.

Your plant choices are fine. I do like including some ornamental grasses. I'd just be careful with the ivy. It is so invasive. You will have to keep on it all the time or you will just have an ivy garden. Google Mediterranean gardens for lots more ideas. Jasmine would be a really nice vine for covering some of the fence or trellis, without being so invasive, and deliciously fragrant on top. Grapevine would be really nice and then eventually you would have grapes! Orange or lemon trees would be traditional in a Mediterranean garden (and come in dwarf varieties). Again they have wonderfully fragrant blossoms and eventually in a few years some fruit. We didn't really talk about fragrance, but I think it is an important part of a garden and will be really nice outside the windows. I grew up in Southern Calif with jasmine right outside my bedroom window and it was wonderful.
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Thanks - I unfortunately have to avoid jasmine because my husband is allergic to it (which is a shame, because I like the smell of jasmine). And I avoid grapevines because the fruit is toxic to dogs :(

Not sure the citrus will enjoy the partial shade (but I have a lemon and lime tree on the sunny side, so that's at least something)
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Wow you are really having fun planning the space! I can't wait to see what you do with it. :D

I was thinking about plant choices -- I have been trying to only plant native species for unharvested self seeding annual, perennial, and woody shrubs/trees/vines in my own garden, and working on removing invasive non-native species. But of course I have no suggestion to make for your location. So I started looking around and came across this website. In case you haven't seen it already, you may find it helpful in your research. :mrgreen:

:arrow: https://www.capetowngreenmap.co.za/go-gr ... ous-garden
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Thanks - I do know that site. I've been referring to it extensively for the planning of my front garden, which I would like to be entirely indigenous (a whole 'nother project, that one, which can only be started once we've done the wall in front, or everything will get trampled). That site, and plantzafrica.com, which is run by our national Biodiversity unit.

Ooo, this is so much fun - and of course I thoroughly appreciate all the input from everyone. I hope its inspiring "y'all" before your spring planting starts :)
I garden so that I don't kill people.

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gillespieza
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Location: Cape Town, South Africa (Zone 9/10)

Re: What should I do with this space?

Oooo, ooo! Look what I just discovered on Pinterest - climbing hydrangea! I didn't know you got such a thing. Dunno if that will work with the tropical plant look - although looking at the shape and colour of the leaves, I don't see why not!

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On another note, I've been looking up different climate zoning systems, and I think Los Angeles would be a close matche to the climate in my area. "warm, dry summer, sub-tropical Csb" , or possibly "hot, dry summer subtropical Csa" - Wikipedia can't agree within it's own article on the subject.
Last edited by gillespieza on Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
I garden so that I don't kill people.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Very nice!

Sorry about the citrus suggestion earlier. You are right about too shady and I knew that. Just for a minute I got carried away with thinking about Mediterranean gardens... And really sorry your husband is allergic to jasmine. I would so love to live somewhere where jasmine is hardy. I tried growing one in a pot and bringing it in for the winter. It grew and grew, but I never could get it to flower that way.
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gillespieza
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Location: Cape Town, South Africa (Zone 9/10)

Re: What should I do with this space?

I've been thinking about planting a yesterday-today-tomorrow bush somewhere in the garden (not the shady alley) - I think the smell from those is quite similar to jasmine (not up-close, but when you get the occasional whiff from the garden), and hubby ain't allergic to that, so at least I can add something smelly to the garden :)

And don't worry about getting carried away - its fun and that's what these forums are for :D
I garden so that I don't kill people.

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gillespieza
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Location: Cape Town, South Africa (Zone 9/10)

Re: What should I do with this space?

I've been obsessing over painting the wall now, since your suggestion, and I can't choose a colour! Going with the tropical shade look, I thought green but then that might be too much green, and why not have a contrast? And keeping with the theme, what do you think of a kind of sea-green or Caribbean ocean blue for the wall?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: What should I do with this space?

Nice choices. Although I mentioned dark green in there, that would be the choice if you wanted to blend it in more. But I really like the ones you have picked. Most of them would be fine. I'd stay away from the nearly white ends of the strips and go with something darker. 2nd picture bottom row, bigger squares, I really like the 2nd from right end, the dark blue. But as I said most of them would be nice.

I have trouble with paint selection too. :) I think it is easier not to start by looking for which you like best, but start throwing out the ones you like least. When you have it reduced down to a manageable few, do pairwise comparisons. Then the trick is not to stress over small shade differences. When you get to that point, any of them would be great, so flip a coin.

Then pick a contrast color which would be a warm color ( red orange pink yellow) or a neutral ( black white brown gray). Then think about painting the outside of your window frames in your contrast color, along with the fence uprights, including the sills and maybe even the little bit of wall where the windows are inset. The color of your brick walkway might be a good choice for contrast color and tie everything together.

And then show pictures! :)
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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gillespieza
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Location: Cape Town, South Africa (Zone 9/10)

Re: What should I do with this space?

So, I had to start on the back garden instead of this section, as an "emergency" fix to one of my dogs continually digging under the fence and escaping, but while buying a load of mushroom compost for it, I found this beautiful Rough Tree Fern going for a third of the price I've seen it at my regular nurseries, so I bought it "in advance". I don't know if it will be too hot for it here - I'm going to leave it in it's bag and watch how it responds to this area before permanent planting.

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I also picked up a Black Eyed Susan vine (yellow) - its indigenous to Southern and Eastern Africa, so it should grow very well here as a perennial - and hopefully cover the razor wire and provide a splash of colour. You can't see it because its on the other side of the cross wall, but there is an ugly tree stump that could do with a nice cover of Black Eyed Susans - and from there it should creep along the razor relatively easily.

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I garden so that I don't kill people.

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