Postage Stamp Garden Delivers in Boston

In Boston, where legacy is king, landscape designer Matthew Cunningham strikes a balance between historic reverence and thoughtful ease using a revamped 415-square-foot entry courtyard.

“My aim was to unite the program prerequisites using a distance that felt firmly rooted in a palette of materials unique to New England,” says Cunningham. “The inside of the home is very modern, but the shell of the construction is conventional. Both elements are intentionally blended by the backyard. It is meant to feel present and stylish without even turning its back to the incredibly wealthy context of Boston’s South End.”

Privacy, intense microclimates and architectural continuity all play crucial roles when designing urban gardens, and unlike with conventional yards, there’s little room for excess. “Urban gardens may be tough to establish,” says Cunningham. “The secret is to keep things simple and intentional.”

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

For a small footprint, shoes are filled by the courtyard. More than a garden, it is an entry, dining area, land line along with physical projection of their customer’s aesthetic.

“The customer sought a backyard which was lasting and easy to maintain,” says Cunningham. The courtyard was created as an outdoor extension of the home as well as a welcoming invitation.

He immediately resolved privacy issues by surrounding the previously underutilized courtyard. Eight-foot fencing separates the intimate courtyard in your tropical alley.

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

The garden draws the experience of the home outside — creating a feeling of seclusion in the middle of metropolitan Boston.

“it is a fairly quiet area,” says Cunningham. “You don’t really observe the bustle and hustle of the city because it is on the alley side of their property. You find the sky and some surrounding buildings.”

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

Ambient locality light illuminates a lot of the backyard. Candles are its only additional light source.

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

Resilient Hardscape

Much of historic Boston is Made from brick. Cunningham utilized granite paving as an intentional diversion out of this tradition while staying true to regional aesthetics and clean design.

Dry-laid cobbles — many already on site — were closely tucked with sterile native moss, keeping permeability and allowing water percolation.

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

All woodwork and fencing is whitewashed fir contrasted with corrugated galvanized steel.

While the site is somewhat protected, the climate of the American Northeast is ferocious, and all materials will need to withstand its inflictions — humidity, snow, rain — while weathering gracefully and naturally.

The hardscape colour suits the modern, industrial aesthetic of the space while still habituated to traditional New England gardens.

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

Shade-tolerant Planting

“Understanding the developing conditions is crucial,” says Cunningham. This site receives hardly three hours of direct sunlight every day, so selecting plants that would survive in shade and retain moisture was crucial.

Like the minimalist substance palette, the primary planting palette is limited to two shade-loving perennials. Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) and Heuchera (Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’)are blended within the terraced beds that are raised. “They flourish in the area and also have excellent multi-seasonality. We utilize annuals from the containers in the backyard — and utilize palms in the containers which flank the entry of the home.”

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

While not all plants are evergreen, Cunningham says, the clients enjoy the backyard yearlong. The Hakone grass continues to flourish over the winter, blowing off in the frosty wind while cascading over terraced planters.

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

Space-saving Details

Every square foot of outside area is accounted for.

Cunningham avoided wasted space by selecting a sliding barn-style gate rather than a classic moving door. Built-in closets keep AC components, trash and recycling from view — removing clutter.

He adopted the firewood storage for a design feature by leaving the stack vulnerable. A granite pier forms the pedestal of the dining table.

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

Cunningham employed optical apparatus to add distance.

The horizontal slats of the fencing were intentionally utilized to elongate the distance, directing the visitor from the alley into the garden and home.

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

Landscape plan of South End Courtyard.

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Let Nature Inspire Your Landscape: Devise a Desert Garden

Deserts are a few of the most intense environments our blue world offers. While they may bring to mind intense isolation, a blatant lack of hospitality and boredom, we should reconsider our place and see, at least in photos, a few dry and remote locales to steal cues for our gardens. The results may be spectacular.

CYAN Horticulture

The Antarctic and the Arctic are regarded as the largest deserts on the planet. With hardly any precipitation, these cold deserts, mostly covered in snow, provide few plants of backyard interest, so let us overlook them.

In the hot and temperate deserts we locate plants which manage to accomplish feats with just a few sparse drops of water. To do so, they’ve developed various innovative mechanisms which are quite often particularly pleasing to the eye.

In this case, much in the desert of southwest Bolivia, this lettuce comparative termed yareta (Azorella compacta) grows gradually into a thick, mossy mound, restricting evapotranspiration.

CYAN Horticulture

A little further away, on an isolated island of rocks and poking from an immense salt level, this candelabra-type cactus provides a conspicuous life shape to an otherwise barren landscape. Can you imagine the spectacle when these all bloom concurrently?

CYAN Horticulture

Cacti have varied shapes; this gold barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) is a good example of an architecturally interesting option. Growing one of it is a sky-blue senecio (Senecio serpens). Both are frost sensitive.

CYAN Horticulture

One of the most preferred of garden cacti is that the paddle cactus (Opuntia sp). Some species are native to the Canadian prairies, making them hardy to zones 3 or 4 — hardy, possibly, but drenching sun and super well-drained soil are still compulsory.

Here, we have a charming duo of Opuntia x ellisiana and Yucca glauca.

CYAN Horticulture

All but one species of cacti are located in North America. In Africa, the cactus-looking native plants are, strangely enough, often members of the Euphorbia family. Both families and their horticultural selections offer endless possibilities for gardeners blessed with a warm, humid climate.

These crops may be utilised in innumerable ways: Some gardeners pack them tightly, like they’d annuals; others show more restraint, like in this section of the Berkeley Botanical Garden in California, leaving a sand and rock exposed.

CYAN Horticulture

The agave is just another desert favorite. Beyond its role in tequila making, agaves are exceptional for their dramatic rosettes of fleshy, often gorgeously colored leaves.

Incapable of carrying on through most real sleeplessness nights, agaves are happier in California and the southern United States. For those in colder climates, agaves create fantastic and easily cared-for potted plants.

CYAN Horticulture

In the same vein but considerably hardier (zone 4 and up) are yuccas (Yucca flaccida ‘Golden Sword’ is shown here). Their rosettes of spiky foliage play a significant part in virtually any desert garden layout; being so perceptible, they are the anchor around which other crops evolve. A creeping verbena fires off this combination.

D-CRAIN Design and Construction

Wisely combined, these dryland crops are perfect for stark, modern plantings.

CYAN Horticulture

Drylands have, by definition, too little water to sustain verdant growth. The outcome is often an environment sparsely populated with crops and plants, during the driest season, somewhat darkened. Though some think this boring, others believe it minimalist on a budget.

Here we’ve got a forest of quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma) in South Africa.

CYAN Horticulture

However when rain finally arrives, this gloomy territory often bursts to a short-lived riot of colors. Bulbs and annuals, like these Cape daisies (Ursinia sp), cover the ground long enough to finish their cycle from bloom to seed.

CYAN Horticulture

A similar phenomenon takes place in the dry hinterland of Oregon, with this spidery cleome. It’s simple to imitate this in backyard settings by sprinkling seeds of annuals (California poppy is a fantastic choice) between the existing permanent plants.

CYAN Horticulture

When the weather turns overly cold or moist for proper desert crops, substitutions are key — look for better-adapted plants with similar appearances. For example, that knawel (Scleranthus biflorus) may change the yareta we found earlier on.

CYAN Horticulture

Thus stonecrop, like this ‘Matrona’ sedum (Sedum ‘Matrona’), is invited to the coldest dry gardens. Hardy to zone 2 or 3, this succulent plant is pretty much indestructible.

CYAN Horticulture

Some of these lower grasses will also be welcome additions to the dry garden. With their fine foliage and tufted growth habit, they sway in the conclusion, contrast with thicker succulents and don’t mind becoming parched. Blue fescue (Festuca spp) and this Ponytail bud (Stipa tenuissima) are a few of the best choices.

CYAN Horticulture

It would not require much more than a drift of these grasses, together with some choice cacti, to transfer you to a much removed patch of desert. And if your backyard proves so convincing, may we even anticipate vicuñas and flamingos to cover a visit? Let’s hope so.

More in this series: Shape a Sea-Inspired Garden | Suggestions for a Woodland Garden
Grasslands to Garden | Mighty Mountain Gardens

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Great Design Plant: Butterfly-Friendly Crossvine

Nearly any garden can benefit from the addition of a vertical feature, and flowering blossoms like crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) really pull double duty in this capacity. A vigorous and prolific bloomer, crossvine offers gardeners stunning color, year-round interest and an chance to use vertical components, like trellises and arbors. Keep reading to understand how to incorporate crossvine into an outdoor space that requires a colorful pick-me-up.

Hortus Oasis

Botanical name: Bignonia capreolata
Common title: Crossvine
USDA zones: 6a-9b (find your zone)
Water requirement: Moderate
moderate requirement: Sun to partial shade
Mature size: 30 to 40 ft
Advantages and tolerances: Crossvine is both heat and cold tolerant; blooms attract bees, butterflies and birds
Seasonal attention: Evergreen leaves for winter arrangement and orange-yellow blooms from spring until fall
When to plant: Fall and spring

J. Peterson Garden Design

Distinguishing traits. Crossvine features tubular orange-yellow flowers that bloom prolifically from spring until fall and long evergreen leaves which take centre stage during the colder months. It is a blossom that is fairly low-maintenance, as long as you give moisture that is constant to it. Although it is going to bloom in partial shade, the blooms will be more abundant in fuller sunshine.

JOHN DANCEY Custom Designing/Remodeling/Building

The best way to use it. This blossom is a very long one, growing up to 40 feet, so be sure to give it a distance which will accommodate it. Tall trellises, arbors, walls and fences will show it off beautifully, and though it’s a clinging vine, it is going to appreciate a service system due to its length. A cable trellis along your fence line will support the blossom without damaging your weapon, making fencing repairs or replacement much easier.

Crossvine may also be used in container plantings — only be sure to give it a big enough container for the origins to expand.

J. Peterson Garden Design

Planting notes.
Dig a hole twice as big as the root chunk of the plant, then carefully remove the blossom out of the nursery pot. Loosen the roots before putting it in the ground, then place soil around the root ball and gently down it. Water it and gently mulch up to the base of the blossom. If your vine has a extended tendrils, carefully spread them out and then put them onto your trellis or arbor that will help the blossom spread in the directions that you wish it to grow. More: Climbing Plants Suit Small Gardens

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Set the Landscape: Cottage Garden Style

Mention the term “cottage garden” and most of us imagine a vibrant, fragrant garden full of billowing perennials, all surrounded by a picket fence. Ornaments, trellises, arbors and seats are nestled among the plants, and also a very simple route leads to a charming entryway.

That is the typical cottage garden nowadays, but what many admirers do not see is that the cottage garden began its life as a purely functional space for growing herbs and vegetables for regular usage. If the single space you have is facing your front door, then that’s where you will grow the food you need. As for the fence, it’s a practical way to keep fleas out (both human and animal).

Throughout the centuries, the cottage garden has become less functional and more cosmetic. It has also been adapted to match different climates and architectural designs, from traditional to contemporary. Just like any garden design, however, there are a number of guidelines which will help ensure that your cottage garden appears pleasing and hauled together, not simply enjoy a hodgepodge of plants which have been placed haphazardly.

Maria Hickey & Associates Landscapes

Start with the layout. Traditionally, the main route would lead directly to the front door, with plants billowing over on each side. That is still suitable, but you could also cause a winding route that leads you on a trip through the backyard.

Inside Out- Exterior & Interior Design

Keep it informal. A specific informality defines cottage garden plants, of course, but in addition, it applies to a hardscape. Gravel, pebbles or bark create great options for avenues, as an example. Rather than bricks set exactly in mortar, look for discolored older bricks with a few cracked edges, and place them so that the distance is not just even between each paver. Stepping stones also offer a cottagey look. Local substances are the ideal option if you’re able to locate them.

Design suggestion:While imperfections in a walkway look charming, have the effect by changing the width between different pavers and keep the walking surface even. No one would like to travel within an irregular rock, particularly at night.

Minglewood Designs

Reduce the yard. At a true cottage garden, a yard is seldom the focus. If you do want a little bit of green, then consider using bud as your route substance. A low-mow fescue will keep your maintenance levels down while adding to the informal feel.

Maria Hickey & Associates Landscapes

Plant for colour. A cottage garden is, most importantly, vibrant. You can use an exuberant mix of colors, choose something bold or stick to softer shades. A color wheel may be a great guide for choosing colors, if you want them to complement or contrast each other.

Design suggestion: If you are new to design with colour, select a motif color or colors, such as pinks, blues or purples, much as you would for colors inside a house. The different shapes of the plants you select will give you variety; the repetition of colour will have a calming and harmonious effect. Since you get bolder, add a pop of contrasting color — yellow nasturtiums blended in with blue pansies and delphiniums, bright red lupine nestled among white Shasta daisies and pink echinacea or some glowing orange black-eyed Susan scattered about in a sea of lavender.

WA Design Architects

Plant the unexpected. Bright purple allium, standing tall, adds colour. Artemisia and santolina are both good filler plants; their tender foliage and inconspicuous flowers function as a backdrop for more colorful plantings.


Enclose your own space. A white picket fence is the epitome of a cottage garden look. Here, the fence itself is simple, however, the bright white color helps it hold its own against the yellows and greens which front it. Additionally, a birdbath is always a welcome touch.

Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd..

Stone and unpainted timber are equally authentic options for fencing, and also this fence artfully combines both. You may even use hedges to make a border. Maintain the substances simple; for instance, a rock wall ought to be brief and look dry place, not like a huge construction bit.


Include gates, arbors and trellises. This really is a traditional mix, complete with a climbing rose, but you can also scatter structures which support climbing plants throughout the space. You may even add extra gates, if to enclose a smaller place or as decoration.

Insert the finishing touches. Cottage gardens call for individual details, and also this birdbath is a stunning example of taking a very simple detail and making it your very own. Constructed of a very simple bathing jar, it provides colour and creativity to the backyard when providing a spa for birds. In turn, the birds offer plenty of amusement for those homeowners.

Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design

Water features are common in a cottage garden. If you plan to add one, keep it simple. Ponds should be relatively small and natural in appearance. Fountains should also be low-key affairs, for example simple urns.

What’s a cottage garden with no birdhouse or two? They may be only decorative, of course, but it doesn’t take much to make one into a cozy home for a nest. Different birds have different nesting requirements, so opt for a birdhouse style which will attract birds indigenous to your region and keep them safe from predators. Check with a local pet store or birding group to find out more about what will work best for you.

Designs by Shellene

You have to be able to enjoy your backyard. A seat placed somewhere inside the space will allow you to look out over your backyard creation. You’ll likely discover that butterflies and birds will enjoy the garden as well.

If you are going to sit for a while, you will want a comfortable spot to do this. Fortunately, thrift store finds and older favorites will match right into a cottage space, so you don’t have to spend a great deal of cash. However, if your space is exposed to sunlight and rain, then you might choose to search for furniture and fabrics which seem weathered but are really designed to resist the components.

Between Naps on the Porch

Obviously, you’re going to need a place to work, whether it’s starting seedlings or arranging fresh-picked flowers. This seat is practical, and the green colour blends in with the plantings about it.

Arcadia Gardens, LLC

Produce a cottage garden that’s right for you. It is sensible to work with the distance and the climate you have. If you reside in the Pacific Northwest, amazing; you have a similar climate to England and you can probably recreate a Cotswold backyard. In other climates, you ought to be creative. At the upper Midwest, plants such as hostas function well as anchors in a cottage garden space.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Just inland from the central coast of California, a Mediterranean climate and lack of summer rain implies plants must be more drought tolerant. While this backyard proves, that doesn’t mean you need to give up about the cottage look, simply select grasses and perennials that could handle the climatic problems.

Peter A. Sellar – Architectural Photographer

While cottage gardens are unusually adaptable, somehow a fluffy yard of roses doesn’t necessarily operate with a more modern architectural design. Grasses, especially those with a mix of colors in their own flower heads, create a great, slightly more contemporary substitute.

You might not be prepared for a complete loss of yard and permanent paving, and that’s fine. Instead, make a cottage feel in a large garden bed, and allow the plants billow around on the pavement to soften the distance.

Troy Rhone Garden Design

This advantage of a sloping driveway offers the ideal spot for a contained cottage look which also brightens the edge of the driveway. In cases like this, the picket fence is keeping the cottage garden out of the yard, rather than in it.

Call it cottage. The containers have an urban appearance, but they’re full of spilling plants which evoke images of a cottage-inspired front yard.


If you are really restricted for space, then a cottage container may work very well. Place it on a patio or in an entryway to get the appearance, even in the event that you don’t have the property.

Design suggestion: You can also use containers inside your current cottage garden. They’re a terrific way to bring a decorative component, and easy to swap out if the plants start to look shabby.

Tom Meaney Architect, AIA

Of course, sometimes your house will seem like a cottage even with the minimum amount of landscaping. This house would state cottage even in the center of a town. Nevertheless, you may see the basic cabin components, from irregularly placed paving materials to climbing plants and a wooden seat.

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Get the Most out of a Small Garden

Forget grand gardens, expansive rolling hills and giant ranches. A serene or functional backyard can match in any sort of space. Here are typical living spaces with gardens that are anything but ordinary. They might be tiny and spartan, but they are fascinating. Care to take a look?

Westover Landscape Design, Inc..

Fences, gates and other structures can break up a smaller backyard into sections. This gives the garden a sense of being bigger and permits you to create different experiences within one space.

Mark Brand Architecture

Terracing is among the most significant tools in a small space. It allows the gardener to add fresh land in raised beds onto a concrete foundation, gives varying lighting to several kinds of plants and adds dimension to a small backyard. Adding terraces visually assembles a small plot into different, different spaces.

Arterra Landscape Architects

This space might be small, but it lives big with a seating area, a charming water feature plus a multitude of plantings. Water provides a sense of movement, along with also the lime-color plants include brightness into a shadowed corner.

Jesse Im/bugonmyleaf

A bonsai garden is a great option for a deck. The plants grow very slowly and seem charming in a shelved screen. The best part? This whole backyard takes up just a few feet.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Do you have an open space without soil? Do you live in an apartment with plenty of hardscaping but no available planting space? Think pots, and think large pots. You may plant just about anything if the pot is large enough (at least 16 inches across), including small fruit trees and other edibles. Choose one finish to unify the pots as a backyard.

Maybe you’ve got space for just one long bed of plants. One species implanted throughout the bed creates a sleek, contemporary look that gives life and movement to a blank wall.

Elemental Design Group

Is the cabin look more your style? Cottage gardens are ideal in a small space. Cluster 10 to 15 plants round your doorstep for a charming look. Go for plants with odor to create an experience each time you come home. Plants that operate nicely in a cottage garden similar to this include catmint, Russian sage, rosemary, lavender and rose.

20 Ways to Get the Cottage Garden Look

Another classic cabin plant is the charming hollyhock. Situate this plant in the back of a small border to add height to a garden. When you grow hollyhocks from seed, expect to see your first blooms in the next year.

Beertje Vonk Artist

Maybe you wish to use your outdoor space to grow edibles. Grow garden vegetables and herbaceous plants in a bed. The square-foot gardening system allows you to grow the most produce in the smallest amount of space.

More about potagers

The Garden Route Company

Think up when you are in a small space. Trellises, arbors and pergolas are great for producing more growing space.

More on vertical gardening

Slater Associates Landscape Architects

You may have a beautiful garden in a small suburban yard, a townhome deck, a rooftop garden or a front entrance. Grow vertically, consider large pots and break up the space into chambers to make your garden unique.

I would love to see your small gardens! Please discuss your backyard stories and photos in the Comments section below.

Give Your Little Garden A Few Room
Vertical Gardens Boost the Limits for Landscapes

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Houzz Escape: Cut Out to the Caribbean

We have just broken the top of January and I am currently prepared to get a rest. Before two times my journey bug met by going to to the Mediterranean — Greece and Italy, to be exact. Now Iwant to head someplace a little closer to home…

MCM Layout

What about the isles of the Caribbean? I can almost sense that isle sun now, although I do not understand about you.

MCM Layout

We are going to take a puddle-jumper into a one near Antigua in the key isles. Here is a view of the house in the sky.

MCM Layout

The entry is simple minutes from the make-shift airport in the isle. Welcome us in and someone rushes out to gather bags.

MCM Layout

This area is really big you can get lost. We head through the courtyard to door amount three, as I remember.

Vanni Archive/Architectural Images

Bedrooms lie just past one of several pools.

MCM Layout

I have got dibs with this chamber! What luxury retreat will be complete using a bed that is gauzy?

MCM Layout

It will be be a joy to awaken each day together with the doors flung open and that see.

MCM Layout

The important thing to tropical dwelling is constantly using the temperature and attractiveness outside. A home that outside does just that and melds inside.

Vanni Archive/Architectural Images

Let us go out to learn more about the property.

MCM Layout

The encouraging pool will immediately have us side-tracked. Time to get a dip.

MCM Layout

You can spend all day staring in the junctions of pool and skies outside here.

But before the day is done I Have got some business to to go to to—my shoulders that’s. Time to reserve a meeting together with the island masseuse.

MCM Layout

As evening sets, wander straight back through among the house ‘s myriad courtyards…

MCM Layout

… And curl through to the veranda to get a cocktail. Do not allow the environment sunlight deceive you; it is as warm as the day of a summer out here.

Include mo-Re: Treatment to talk about your personal stunning Caribbean pictures of houses and gardens? Please a DD them in the opinions below

More Houzz Getaways:
Bask in Amini Greek Get-Away
A Visit to Tuscany