In this backyard in Eugene, Oregon, a 7-foot-tall stucco wall hides a view of an alley behind. At the foot of the wall, a soil-filled planter holds two espaliered apple trees, plus an assortment of colorful flowers. A ledge along the planter provides extra seating when the owners throw a party on the adjacent patio.
As part of a garden remodel, the owners retrofitted an existing cement block wall by inserting rebar into the blocks and filling the spaces with concrete. They textured the wall's stucco finish to match the house. Solar heat absorbed by the west-facing wall during the day radiates back into the space in the evening, making the patio a cozy place to sit on cool Northwest nights. They built the raised planter 2 1/2 feet wide and 20 feet long with a 20-inch-tall retaining wall. Atop the wall, a 9-inch-wide ledge is capped with the same tiles used to pave the patio.
Each semi-dwarf apple tree is grafted with four different varieties ('Gravenstein', 'Jonagold', 'Liberty', 'Yellow Delicious'). To train the espalier, the branches are tied to horizontal wires strung through eye hooks. The planter is anchored at each end by pink-flowered Lavandula angustifolia 'Jean Davis', with a bright mix of black-eyed Susans, marigolds, yellow snapdragons, and red petunias and zinnias in between.