Free plan: A garden of outdoor rooms
A designer shares her secrets for creating a cool backyard getaway
That's the idea behind landscape designer Patricia Wagner's plot in San Leandro, California. "I was asking a lot of my garden," says Wagner, who wanted outdoor spots to work, relax, and host intimate dinners as well as large, lively parties. Her garden took just three weeks from design to completion ― "I knew what I needed," she says ― and she fit everything in by dividing her 1,500-square-foot backyard into a series of rooms that flow easily into one another.
The dining area's simple candle chandelier (Wagner found hers at Ikea) is more functional than pillar candles.
Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’ hedges define the outdoor dining/work space. Wisteria vines cover the arbor.
"This is our no-cell-phone zone," Wagner says.
2. Begonia semperflorens Low-growing bedding plants (up to a foot tall) pump out flowers in white and shades of red from spring through fall (winter annual in hottest climates). Filtered sun or bright indirect light.
3. Camellia japonica 'Nuccio’s Gem' White flowers and evergreen leaves on a shrub that grows to 12 feet tall and sometimes more. Filtered light.
4. Dogwood (Cornus alba 'Elegantissima') Deciduous shrub reaching 10 feet tall and wide with red stems, green-and-white foliage, and small, fragrant, creamy white flowers in spring. Light shade.
5. Variegated Nemesia caerulea (pictured) Compact mild-climate perennial reaches 2 feet tall ― perfect for a pot. Rich green leaves with white edges; delicate lavender-pink blooms. Part shade.
8. Western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale) An upright shrub, native to the mountains and foothills
of California and Oregon. Grows 6 to 10 feet tall; fragrant, funnel-like blooms range from white to pinkish white. Filtered light.
2. Shaded retreat for two beneath tall cedar trees.
3. Outdoor dining and work area.
"I created spaces based on how we live and what we need from the garden," says Wagner. "To quote Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, 'If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.' "
Design Patricia Wagner Garden Design, San Leandro, CA (510/638-6681)