Almost every time I drop by to see my mother-in-law, Natalia, I feel drawn into her garden. It's full of personality just like the rest of her home. Granted, she rents, but that doesn't stop her from transforming the small outdoor space into her own private haven. Since she has been a passionate gardener for most of her life, finding a rental with an outdoor area was of the utmost importance. When she first moved into the cottage (almost 2 years ago), its small yard was lifeless, barren and depressing. Now it's slowly becoming verdant (drought permitting) and alive. Utilizing lots of ceramic pots, a wide array of plants and a few interesting accents she has managed to extend the indoors out. I asked Natalia to give us a few pointers on creating an inviting outdoor space as a renter. She shares them below.
1. Use pots to display the more interesting, pricier plants. If or when you decided to move, you can take them with you wherever life takes you.
2. Mix plant materials that are compatible with each other visually and physiologically, i.e. requiring the same amount of shade or sunlight and degrees of humidity or dryness.
3. Whenever possible use plants indigenous to your geographical zone for ecological reasons or exotic plants that would thrive in your climate.
4. Don't be afraid to use flea market finds such as mirrors or chandeliers to add whimsy and character to your outdoor space.
5. Repurpose accessories from previous homes. The guardian angel plaque has accompanied me through my last 5 moves[!!]
6. Do plant things in the ground, especially if they will enhance the appearance of your rental. I am in love with the Pampas grass I planted in the front of the cottage. It wasn't expensive and it added movement and softness to the rigidity of the containers around it.
7. Create seating or lounging areas that will encourage you to spend time outdoors, whether it's reading, meditating or just sipping good wine.
8. Attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to your little corner of the world by choosing flowers and shrubs that welcome life and color to it.
9. If your outdoor space is limited, utilize walls and fences as backdrops for vertical gardens. Dramatic and showy, they provide great focal points.
10. Be patient (mind you, not MY best quality). The drought, or the floods, or the bug infestations will pass, and your garden, albeit rented, will eventually live up to your initial visions for it.