Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Middle South
June, 2009
Regional Report

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Recently constructed and planted, this pillar and planter combo is half of a pair that create an enticing entrance to the backyard garden, defining a starting point and offering a small sample of the pleasures yet to come.

Charm Visitors With an Enticing Entrance

One look at her beguiling garden gate told me I was in for a treat when I visited a new friend last autumn. Hung between two brick pillars covered in fig ivy and decorated with a grapevine basket overflowing with colorful chrysanthemums, the gate stood slightly ajar. As I pushed opened its door, my attention was drawn to the decorative birdhouse and plant-packed border on the far side of the landscape.

My friend's gated entrance set a casual and welcoming atmosphere for her garden, heightening my sense of excitement. It slowed my progress, too, giving me time to pause and appreciate the charming details of the ornamental basket, as well as the "touch-me" texture of the fig ivy.

It enhanced the garden in other ways, as well. It unified the landscape with the home's architectural style, provided structural enclosure, and framed my first view of the garden hidden behind its door.

This entrance -- both a lure and an appetizer -- made me eager to see more.

Once home, I decided I could do a better job in my own garden, especially with the transition area from driveway to backyard. A pair of upright conifers contained in large black pots had marked this entrance for several years, but I was ready for something new.

Throughout the winter months I scoured books and magazines for an idea, then last weekend I took action. The conifers where relocated to flank a bench in the vegetable garden, making room for the construction of two simple brick pillars.

Built without mortar, the 12 inch-tall pillars are made with 6 courses of brick pavers toped with a 16 inch-square cinder block stepping stone. Each pillar, comprised of 36 brick pavers and the block cap cost an economical $20.

Matching urns top the new structures. Filled with vibrant plants, including Ipomoea batatas 'Illusion Emerald Lace' and 'Illusion Midnight Lace', Nierembergia hybrid 'Augusta Blue Skies', Diascia hybrid 'Flirtation Orange', and Lobularia hybrid 'Snow Princess' (all Proven Winners trial selections to be available in retail centers in 2010), they offer a cheerful welcome and put enticing color, fragrance, and texture within reach.

And, because the pillars are made without mortar, they will be easy to disassemble and move when the fancy strikes.

Best of all, they define a starting point, marking the transition from a public to a private space. They create a doorway into the garden, urge visitors forward, and offer a small sample of the pleasures yet to come.

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