Becky and Aubrey Daniels have created a garden for fun and entertaining behind their home in Tucker, Ga. Originally there were a few flower beds and shrub borders on the sloping lot. When their grown daughters were young, the Daniels built a swimming pool and a tennis court.
Eventually the daughters left home, and the pool and tennis court fell into disuse. The solution? Fill in the pool and make the area a Charleston-style courtyard garden, and turn the tennis court into a place for shuffleboard, hopscotch, croquet or bocce.
Although Becky's garden is formal with its patterned parterres and antique iron gate, there is still plenty of whimsy and a sense of humor in evidence. A chimney pot (Becky calls it her "Mary Poppins" chimney) holds a tangle of honeysuckle, and a garage wall next to the elegant brick courtyard is painted bright purple.
Through the years, the Daniels have changed their backyard to suit their needs. A mainstay has been the large gazebo, which the Daniels use for their numerous parties. An adjacent lot received shrubs and paths, plus a putting green for Aubrey. The most recent project transformed a steep slope into a large water feature. Now, instead of a bank covered with liriope, there is a rock waterfall with a stone bridge and plantings of ferns, flowers and shrubs.
Aubrey and Becky Daniels love color and have something going on all during the growing season. In early May, the garden contains both cool greens and colorful flowers. Here are some of their favorites:
African Daisy (Cape Daisy)
The plant: The very popular hybrid African daisy is used either as a cool-season annual or a tender perennial. Growing in a multitude of colors (i.e., salmon, white, yellow, pink, rose), the daisy-like flowers are held on 12-inch stems. Originally from South Africa, osteospermum has been crossed and re-crossed to produce different colors and traits.
How to use it: Plant in beds and borders for spots of color. This is also a good subject for containers or window boxes.
Cultivation: Plants prefer drier conditions and areas where nights are cool. In humid places like the southeastern U.S., the African daisy performs best as a cool season annual. Grow in well-drained soil in sunny areas.
Source: Horsford Gardens & Nursery
The plant: Sometimes called the everblooming honeysuckle, this 12-foot vine produces red flower buds that open to reveal a yellow inside. The outside of the flower then fades to pink, so on one flower truss there can be at least three colors present at once. The foliage is opposite-leaved with a blue-green color; stems are reddish. There's a big flush of slightly fragrant flowers in spring and sporadic bloom during the summer. Hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
How to use it: Grow on a trellis, fence or arbor--in the ground or in a container.
Cultivation: Plant in sun or filtered sun in well-drained soil. You'll need some kind of support for the vine. Prune occasionally to prevent the vine from tangling.
Source: Fantastic Plants
'Nearly Wild' Floribunda Rose
The plant: Single flowers of rose-pink with white centers and a light apple fragrance cover the shrub practically non-stop from spring until a deep freeze. Grows to two to three feet high by three feet wide. 'Nearly Wild' was introduced in 1941. Hardy from USDA Zones 4 to 9.
How to use it: This is an excellent rose for a mass planting or ground cover.
Cultivation: Plant in full sun, and provide good air circulation to prevent blackspot. Roses like well-drained soil and full sun. Keep evenly watered and fertilized. 'Nearly Wild' is self-cleaning and does not require deadheading.
Source: Antique Rose Emporium
The plant: This is a dense, broad evergreen shrub with lustrous dark green leaves. The flowers, which are not showy, are extremely fragrant (the scent is reminiscent of orange blossoms). Native to Japan, Formosa, Korea and China, the plant was introduced in 1804 and has become a staple of Florida landscapes. The shrub is hardy in USDA Zones 9 and 10, but it can be grown in protected places in Zone 8 and even 7B. The variegated form is also extremely popular and combines well with the species. Height is 12 feet with a much wider spread.
How to use it: The cut branches of both the solid and variegated pittosporum are lovely for Christmas arrangements. In the landscape, pittosporum can form a dense, impenetrable hedge or screen. This is a good shrub for the seashore.
Cultivation: Grow in sun or shade in almost any well-drained soil. It can withstand heavy pruning.
'Knockout' Shrub Rose
The plant: Introduced in 2000, this landscape rose blooms continuously on disease-resistant plants that have glossy, dark green foliage. The three-inch-wide single flowers are deep, rosy red and appear in clusters on shrubs 3-1/2 feet high by three feet wide. Bred in Canada, 'Knockout' is hardy to -20 degrees F and is somewhat shade-tolerant.
How to use it: Another great rose for mass landscaping projects. It is also excellent for bright color when used as a hedge. A nice cut flower.
Cultivation: Easy to grow in full sun and well-drained soil. Like 'Nearly Wild', 'Knockout' is a self-cleaning rose. All roses appreciate regular feedings and regular water.