Books in sync with nature.

Small-Space Gardening (mostly pots)

My atrium “before”


Like so many people who have tilted over into the second half of life, I have downsized.  Now, rather than having a house with real dirt on all sides, I find myself in a condo in Southern California, where the weather is great, but garden space not so much.  What I have to work with is a small paved entry patio and a 12×11 atrium, also paved, but with a sliver of a raised bed on one side (see the “before” pic). When I moved in several months ago, I had an unexpected brain freeze about the best way to create the sense of a “real garden” with so much hard surface.  I knew it was going to call for mostly containers.

Where could I turn for help? Silly question. I’ve been editing garden books for ages – written by people I consider my garden gurus, like Kerry Ann Mendez, Sue Goetz, and Kate Copsey, who have so much to offer for the small-space gardener. The answers were all there in the full-color pages of their books.  So, with that professional design and plant selection wisdom at my fingertips, how’s it going now that spring is here?

I haven’t taken off at a sprint yet, but that’s about to happen.  Here’s what the atrium looks like today. I’m about to go out to do some serious nursery damage: containers, annuals, maybe some ornamental grasses…and definitely veggies and herbs. I’m also looking at different water-saving irrigation systems.  It’s California, it’s dry, we hoard our limited water.

I’ll check back in with updates, but now…where’s my list?

Here’s a few inspiration shots, below.

Hydrangea m. ‘Starlight’ – from The Right-Size Flower Garden by Kerry Mendez. (Photo by Spring Meadow Nursery)


Herb and flower containers from The Right-Size Flower Garden by Kerry Mendez. (Photo by Deborah Trickett)


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