The Grotto

You may have seen my earlier post about a problem corner in our backyard. Basically it’s a damp, dank corner with poor soil and a lot of shade, a grotto, as Mr. Bee has named it.

With the demise of the table that used to sit here, we have come up with a new purpose for this leafy bower, a sanctuary. Sanctuaries are dark enclosed places, right? A sanctuary, just what is needed under present circumstances.

This area used to look like this.

With only about an hour of sunshine a day, this area has stymied us for years. What should its purpose be and how do we make it not an eyesore? Virginia summers are not conducive to outdoor entertaining, with the humid weather and swarms of mosquitoes. And, of course, budget is always a consideration.

First off, we knew we had to replace the fence. That was done last year.

This year we went all in and bought new patio furniture. This set is from Overstock. I assembled it by myself and it was not difficult. Too impatient to wait for Mr. Bee to finish his work day I just started and it was quite easy. The casual vibe is exactly right for this, shall we say, rustic patio. The set came with the white cushions. It’s all very comfortable too.

You might notice a few of the plants are in pots. That’s always an option when your soil is terrible.

We also bought two skip laurels, which are the hedge looking plants on each side. They are supposed to grow up to 6 or 7 feet tall and equally wide. I am amending the soil with compost and fertilizer to compensate for the compact clay conditions.

At the top of this photo you can get a sense of the dense shade canopy that surrounds the patio. On the other side the neighbor’s windows are visible. We like our neighbors and I’m not especially bothered by the lack of privacy.

There remain some bare spots to be dealt with. Skip laurels, seen between the chairs, are slow growers. It’s supposed to get wide, but what is the solution for today? Ideally, I would love for the entire patio to be enclosed by a wall of green. But the reality in a garden is, it’s better to pause and assess your next steps otherwise you can end up with a crowded, hodge-podge. I’m still tempted to head to the nursery. Mainly it’s social distancing that’s holding me back.

Every outdoor sanctuary needs a water feature. I will do a future post on this one. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as the sound of water trickling over stones.

The best part of my new retreat is being able to enjoy the view of the rest of the garden.

What problems areas are you contending with in your yard?

3 thoughts on “The Grotto

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