Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Petunias, Planters, and Patios, Oh My!

When we purchased the building that houses 'some things looming' we were particularly thrilled with the attached courtyard, despite the fact that it contained trash and two-foot high weeds.  One of the first things we did, was to put Joshua, our gardener-in-training and my first-born child, to work cleaning up the space:  pulling the weeds, throwing out the trash, and digging out two foot long roots along the building perimeters.  He's a high-energy kid.  Over the years, I've put him to work in my own yard to burn off some of that excess energy, so it was a task he was familiar with and often enjoys. 

In the spring of 2010, we added a fence, complete with gate and lock to keep our neighbors from throwing their trash into our courtyard.  At this point, our progress stalled because the courtyard is landlocked by several buildings. There is no egress to the street, which means, any kind of patio materials had to go through the gallery or the boutique to get back outside.   The more we contemplated how we'd haul brick and stone, the more we realized it might be better to pay someone to do the work for us.

This past fall, we hired a landscaper who designed the patio and installed it behind the fence.

Building the Patio
It took three or four days, and many many more truckloads for the two landscapers to deliver the brick, stone, and sand.  Hauling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow, they carried the materials up a ramp over up our front steps, through our gallery, and to the courtyard.   Daily I watched the progress of the construction.  Being an artist who finds the process as exciting as the product, I was enthralled watching the assembly.

One half complete!

Almost finished!

This Spring, we had the landscaper come back and fill the region outside of the fence with decorative stone.  I'm not even going to guess how many trips that took. And finally, our patio/courtyard was complete! Or was it?

We still needed to acquire tables and chairs, and what about decorative elements? Prowling stores from here to Timbuktu, Floyd managed to snag three large table umbrellas the very color of our 'some things looming' green.  He put up the center awning, anchored it down, and voilĂ !  NOW we were finished with the courtyard.  Or were we??

Any good city courtyard should have a container garden, we thought. And since we wanted to debut our outdoor space at the Size Matters opening, it fell to Floyd and I to create the garden.   I wanted evergreens, first and foremost.  So we hopped in the car and started hunting through garden centers all across our fair city's suburbs, in the cold, misty, spring rain.  We began with some dwarf spruce trees, and some blueish-green shrubs, I have no idea of their names.  I'm not a gardener. I leave that up to the kid, who has a ridiculously keen green thumb.  Mostly, I said "ooh, that's pretty and would go nice with all these other shades of green. Let's get that!" 

I picked out a couple of ruby daylillies as well as some reddish grass-like plant.    Then we found this rose bush/shrub variety called "Knock Out Roses."  Knowing how much Rebekah loves her roses, we decided to grab three of those for three corners of our patio.  Unfortunately, nothing is in bloom yet, so we knew we'd need some annuals to add color.  Floyd suggested some hanging window boxes attached to the top of our patio fence with a draping flower out of them.  We ordered eight boxes, and are awaiting them, even as I type.
Piling our finds into Floyd's truck, we headed to the next stop for some containers, stone, and potting soil to plant our goodies.   Next came the fun part: getting it all back to the courtyard.

Joshua, our gardener
Back and forth, forth and back, we hauled our prized purchases.  Thankfully, I had our gardener-in-training, Joshua, to help muscle us through the process. He even began the planting process that evening, managing to set-up three trees and one rose bush.  The next day, I brought over some annuals already in planters (thank goodness!) and a couple of window boxes to hang off the railing on the steps leading out of the boutique.  Floyd and I began to tackle the rest of the pots.  Half-way through our first pot, we wondered to ourselves how a fourteen year old boy managed to plant three trees and one rose bush all by his lonesome.  It was quite the task for just the two of us! 
Our "gardener" and his sisters who "helped"
Much to our chagrin, we miscalculated how much dirt and stone we really needed, which meant another trip to the garden center.  We decided to pick up more annual planters to decorate the empty space between the door leading out of the gallery and the door leading out of the boutique.  Piling it all in the back of my mommy-mobile (aka mini-van) we headed back to the studio.  A gazillion more trips back and forth from the street, through the gallery, to the patio, and we finally unloaded the rest of the stash. 

By this point, our bodies were talking to us. We had been squatting, bending over, or hauling large heavy bags of product for hours, and decided we might not be able to get upright ever again.  Thankfully, this was not the case, and by the evening before the Size Matters opening, we were able to sit out and enjoy the fruits of our labors. 
leading out from the gallery to the courtyard

The patio at night

Looking back towards the gallery door

During the day.  Doncha love the green umbrellas Floyd found? They're our color!
It's lovely to sit out here.

or here. :)
We hope you'll stop by sometime, to see Size Matters, and maybe take a peek at our little courtyard hide-away here in the city.



  1. Oh Mel...it is fantastic. I'm so proud of all you and your family has done to this place.

  2. Make that "have"...there is no edit button.