The Courtyard Garden

Well, it’s not exactly a courtyard. More of a neglected backyard, with the neighbor behind one decaying fence and an alley behind the other, a building we generally refer to as “the shop” (a sort of glorified chicken barn) on the third side, and the bamboo covered stream bank on the fourth. The idea of a courtyard garden was suggested not by the existence of a courtyard in which to garden, but by my fascination with courtyards (walled green spaces that promise privacy and exude freshness in the stifling heat). My hope is that a courtyard can be evoked through the use of opaque walls (fences), running water (Gilbert Creek and a small pond), and, most importantly containers of lush, exotic foliage.

Over the past several months, I have compiled first a mental, and now a physical list of the many candidate plants I have identified. Ideally, I would like the courtyard’s plant palate to feel distinct from that of the front garden, where the emphasis is on plants that thrive in full sun and are drought tolerant. Other important considerations include the need for water conservation and my desire to incorporate native plants. Plants marked with (*) are drought tolerant. Those marked with (**) are native.

The framework will be created by troughs and large pots filled with a mixture of tall exotics, which will also serve the function of masking the fencing and (hopefully) making the boundaries of the space less definite.

Candidates for Background Plants:

  • Tetrapanax papyrifer “Steroidal Giant”
  • Fatsia japonica “Tsumugi Shibori”
  • Musa basjoo
  • Bamboos
    • Fargesia robusta “Pingwu”
    • Sasa palmata
    • Chusquea culeou*
    • Otatea aztecorum*
  • Arundo donax “Variegata”
  • Ricinus communis
  • Begonia luxurians

Candidates for Midground Plants:

  • Hedychium coronarium
  • Cannas
  • Hedychium coccineum
  • Hedychium gardnerianum
  • Zingiber mioga
  • Datura wrightii (high altitude)*
  • Datura innoxia
  • Datura stamonium
  • Brugmansia arborea
  • Colocasia esculenta
  • Musella lesiocarpa
  • Osmunda regalis
  • Darmera peltata
  • Rhodoxoma capensis
  • Aralia californica**
  • Aruncus dioicus var. acuminatus**
  • Heracleum lanatum**

Candidates for Foreground Plants:

  • Curcuma rosoeana*
  • Curcuma zedoaria*
  • Asarum caudatum*
  • Hakonechloa macra “All Gold”
  • Imperata cylindrica Rubra
  • Ophiopogon planiscupus “Hoku Ryu Ko”
  • Setaria palmifolia “Variegata”
  • Phalaris arundinacea “Picta”
  • Pleioblastus
  • Saxifraga stolonifera
  • Begonias
  • Mitchella repens
  • Muehlenbeckia complexa
  • Agapanthus “Stormcloud”
  • Colocasia fallax
  • Eucomis comosa “Sparking Burgundy”
  • Farfugium japonicum
  • Arisaema ciliatum
  • Cuphea*
  • Rodgersia “Bronze Peacock”
  • Begonia emiensis
  • Asplenium scolopendrium
  • Lettebouria socialis*
  • Asparagus densiflorus
  • Achlys triphylla**
  • Asarum caudatum**
  • Fritillaria affinis**
  • Native irises**
  • Native lillies**
  • Maianthemum dilatatum**
  • Maianthemum racemosum**
  • Maianthemum stellatum**
  • Tolmiea menziesii**
  • Trillium kurabayashii**
  • Vancouveria hexandra**
  • Veratrum viride**
  • Native ferns**
  • Arisaema triphyllum
  • Native erythronium
  • Amorphophallus konjac
  • Arisaema consanguineum
  • Arisaema costatum
  • Arisaema taiwanense
  • Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Cristatum’
  • Astilbe ‘Chocolate Shogun’
  • Astilboides tabularis (aka Rodgersia tabularis)
  • Beesia deltophylla
  • Bergenia ciliata
  • Bletilla ‘Yokohama’
  • Brunnera macrophylla

3 thoughts on “The Courtyard Garden

  1. Nice project with beautiful selected plants! I’m a little afraid that some of them lack water such as musa , tetrapanax or fatsia because I see that here I had to water them fairly regularly ( while they settle for a few years but after no problem. )
    For smaller plants such as my rodgersia, brugmansia (pot) or hedychiums, they must also be watered or so that they are well in the shade. I think I’m going to move some of them because they were too hot this summer. I can’t wait to see the result all planted!

    Liked by 1 person

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