Every inch a garden: Big living in a small space.
Since its transformation in 2013, this sliver of backyard space has become the hub of happy outdoor activity for this family of four. Every inch planned, every inch used; this garden is an example of just how much living can be eked out of even the smallest of spaces.
Beyond a doubt, designing a garden on sloped terrain presents a unique set of challenges, as special care must be taken during planning and construction to ensure a functional and safe end result. Darcy Daniels and Tryon Creek Landscape embraced the challenge of working on sloped ground and were able to take advantage of the change in terrain to segment the garden into different living areas and increase the overall livability of the outdoor spaces surrounding this home.
Dividing a garden, even when small, often has the paradoxical effect of making it seem larger– resulting in more interesting, functional and dynamic spaces.
An elevated dining patio, tucked in the upper corner is wrapped on two sides by raised beds made of concrete walls. These two wrapping corners create a cozy, enclosed space and allow for the overheard canopy to be elevated, which assists in creating an enclosed and private dining patio.
The outdoor living room with cozy seating around a fire occupies a spot previously relegated to a failing patch of lawn. The garden remodel brought new life to the spot. Now a functional and beautiful outdoor room with an all-season, all-weather floor of pavers gets much more use than the previous incarnation of ineffectual grass.
Steel and concrete with their slim profile were natural choices for retaining the slope. A stacked stone wall or boulders would have consumed far too much of the precious garden beds for this plant-loving gardener.
The incline of the garden faces the house’s main living area and is quite visible from inside throughout the year. A rectangular fountain is aligned with a window in the main living area and is a central feature.
Because the entire garden is largely visible from all areas and seen all-in-one-swoop, the plantings were treated as one flowing composition. Selecting the plant palette for the site was challenging, as it is quite shady in winter and quite sunny and downright hot in summer, though only for a few, intense midday hours. Selected plants have to be able to adapt to these sun patterns, which Darcy describes as “shade, shade, BLAST!” Additionally, plants were chosen with an emphasis on achieving that magical and often elusive balance of high impact, low-maintenance and all-season good looks.
Darcy Daniels, Bloomtown Gardens
Darcy Daniels of Bloomtown Gardens has designed dozens of gardens in the Portland metro area since 2001. She focuses on creating residential gardens with an emphasis on spaces for outdoor living and gardens that delight the senses year–round. She is well known for her rich, textural plantings and inventive use of small spaces.
Her gardens and garden photos have been featured in many publications, including Sunset, Fine Gardening, Better Homes & Gardens, Oregon Home, Homes + Gardens Northwest, and more. She shares her garden in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Benjamin, and her two dogs, Lucky & Monty.