Small Pleasures

Annapolis' narrow streets showcase greenery that proves a grand garden isn't always a big garden.

Focus On Gardens

July 09, 2000|By Story and Photos by Nanine Hartzenbusch | Story and Photos by Nanine Hartzenbusch,Sun Staff

To a devoted gardener, no area is too small to cultivate.

A diminutive space -- whether it's a courtyard or a lone window box -- can have great impact. And the size keeps it manageable, making maintenance more of a pleasure than a chore.

These less-is-more gardens abound in Historic Annapolis. Wander around the narrow streets of the city, and you get glimpses of how nature flourishes in confined spaces. There's a trumpet vine climbing a brick wall, cheerful red geraniums decorating a whiskey barrel, and an oasis of hostas, azaleas and rhododendrons tucked behind a historic home.

City gardens can be created on decks, rowhouse porches and even concrete steps. Sometimes they function as extensions of the rooms they adjoin, such as an herb garden off a kitchen, or an outdoor reading nook off a bedroom. Use a palette of color and greenery to create the garden of your dreams. The spaces are only limited by your imagination.

Some tips for creating a garden in a small space:

* Go vertical, putting every inch of wall and floor to good use. Soften the stark lines of fences and privacy screens with climbing vines, shrubs or flowering plants.

* Use flat stones or deck most of your surfaces, and arrange plants around them. Lawns require upkeep and mowing, and are difficult to maintain in a small space.

* Supplement with container plants that can be moved around to change the scene. Group plants in separate pots or layer them to create a cascading mixture of flowers and foliage.

* Miniature edibles -- such as herbs, cucumbers or tomatoes -- work well in containers.

* Rhododendron, azaleas, ivy and fir do well in small, shady gardens and can be complemented by bursts of color from such flowers as iris, daffodils and tulips.

From Better Homes and Gardens' "Complete Book of Gardening," and the American Horticultural Society's "Containers"

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