The arbor garden is a small, intimate enclave that envelops our home's silhouette. To save money, we installed all the brick-lined beds, plants, and pea gravel ourselves. Considering this area started as a bland patch of lawn, it has filled in nicely. Since this photo was taken, the 'Green Velvet' boxwood has formed a lush hedge. We chose that variety because it performs well in our Midwestern climate. It's a cross between the gorgeous English boxwood and the hardier Korean boxwood.
Most of the plants in the arbor garden are herbs and perennials but we mix a few annuals in for visual impact. This old-fashioned stock reminds me of my grandma's garden. You might have noticed some rose foliage mingling with it; we plant very tightly to discourage weeds.
We usually mulch with a simple layer of black compost, but for the shoot, we mulched with cocoa hulls for their texture and color. When it's freshly applied, it has a wonderful chocolatey aroma. However, you should not use it if you have dogs because it is harmful to their gastrointestinal systems.
There is a quilt-related connection to this story. A few years ago, a quilt book used the arbor garden as a backdrop for some of their photography. The photo team brought in this lovely quilt and props. Unfortunately, I didn't shoot this photo at a good time. It was afternoon and that's a bad time to shoot outdoor photos unless it's an overcast day. All the professional photographers I've worked with say the best time to shoot a garden is early morning before the sun's garish rays overpower it. I've learned a lot from them over the years. They all say that the key to good photos is NOT using a flash. Who knew?! Now I never use the flash when taking my photos! Hope you enjoyed this little garden tour.