In 2013 our family moved into our present home. We selected it for a number of reasons: it’s close to light rail, family, and friends, and it had a pleasant but boring garden that I could rip out and redesign.
The property was oddly shaped: a 25’ by 80’ bowling alley back yard connected to a 40’ wide side yard. Adding a sunroom to divide the space was my solution. The sunroom now serves as a breakfast room, a dining room, and an open air pavilion. It can be closed up snug for the cold, wet months, or opened up to fresh air and breezes when it’s warm. By adding the sunroom, we created four garden rooms: a 35’ x 25’ Italian garden, a 20’ x 40’ English garden, a 12’ x 12’ Mediterranean garden and a 12’ x 40’ hidden driveway for our RV.
The Italian garden is defined more by its hardscapes than its plant material. We used multi-sized concrete blocks to build raised beds against the house and the south and west fences. The sunroom provides the other wall for the sunken gravel garden that is outlined with the beds. Wood arbors were added to the house and the sunroom to provide shade and visual interest.
The English garden is defined by its use of traditional plant material and soft cool colors. Its crowning glory is a large cedar arbor that separates it from the driveway. It features roses, viburnum, camellias, clematis, and many other shrubs and perennials. It’s a small space but packs in lots of color and texture.
The transition between the two gardens: a walkway, fountain, and bed between the fence and the sunroom is our Mediterranean garden. It has a personality all its own that melds well with both the English garden and the Italian garden.
A few years ago, after we disposed of our RV, we transformed the driveway into a patio room that features a sunny seating area with a fire pit and a hot tub. Trellises were added to our North fence for privacy.
The front garden is really three gardens. The main garden is New American, which mean it utilizes asymmetrical balance with bold colors and textures. It features raised beds made with the same concrete blocks used in the back yard. The plant material is selected to provide four season interest, focusing on leaf color and texture. The North side garden is a transitional shade garden. It still features four seasons of color and textures but it blends into the more subdued English garden.
The front border between our neighbor and our driveway is visually cut on a diagonal between a planting bed and a gravel parking area. The bed is festooned with a variegated dogwood tree, daylilies, lavender, and heat-loving perennials.
Even though my cluster of garden rooms, known as Andora Gardens, is overflowing I still keep adding little treasures. I will never be quite finished, that would ruin the fun!
Ann Nickerson, Ann Nickerson Landscape Design
Since 2013, Ann Nickerson has been creating a garden of mystery and delight. It’s a sojourn over land, space, and time from the USA to England and then onto the Mediterranean world, culminating in Italy. The viewer is drawn from one outdoor room to the next by varying garden styles. On this adventure they will delight in a Brighton Beach patio; an intimate English garden; and a short walk through “the continent”, to a place of rest and repose in an Italian Garden. Ann calls this journey Andora Gardens. She invites you to come and partake.