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In residential gardening, one of the toughest challenges is what to do with those narrow, cramped side yards and how to make them attractive passageways to the backyard. Looking south up the zigzag path from the side garden toward the rear garden and pool at dusk.
The back patio and pool is accented by raised concrete-walled garden beds and planters, with a tall cedar fence added for privacy. They used the skills of garden designer Damen Djos of Vancouver to create a secluded side garden with a stepping-stone path that would make the walk to the backyard a journey of discovery. The zigzag path connecting the back garden to the side garden is accented by large planters that flank the gate and help to define the space. A square concrete planter in the backyard, in front of the concrete walled planting beds, is a colorful blend of 'Illumination' begonias, Dichondra argentea, ‘Sedona’ coleus, and Carex flagellifera. The rear garden is about 20 feet wide and 45 feet long and enclosed on the south and west by a fence and yew hedge and garage on the east. A planter at the far end of the side garden is planted with an Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira', Plectranthus argentatus 'Longwood Silver', Dichondra argentea, and white-double-flowered Bacopa (not yet in bloom).

Charcoal-gray fiberglass planters on the east side of the patio, by the basement entrance to the house, are planted with Japanese maples, Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku', Dichonrda argentea, Carex flagellifera, and Calibrachoa.
Fiberglass planters in a soft blue-gray shade complement the pastel color palette of Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata', Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt', 'Alligator Tears' coleus, Acorus gramineus, Oxalis, Begonia boliviensis, and Lysmachia nummularia 'Aurea'.
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A creative approach to that quandary is on display in the garden of Martin and Suzanne Ferera, Vancouver, British Columbia. The side garden was nothing more than an overgrown alley with access to a telecom box and gas meter. For the side garden, I wanted to create a visual lure to draw your eye, but also have it partially obscured with a separate patio where you could sit privately.
Most of the trees and plants are contained in raised concrete-walled garden beds and large planters, which are strategically placed to draw the eye to various focal points and create a poetic transition from one area of the garden to another.
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The work, which was completed last spring, involved turning a 7-foot-wide area on the west side of the house, constricted by fencing on one side and the house on the other, into an alluring trail to the rear garden and patio. Damen and I talked over how we could use the existing stepping stones from the old rear garden to create a zigzag path to connect the side and rear gardens, patios, and seating areas,” says Ferera. Tiny Tower Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens 'Monshel') are planted in the narrow concrete planter along the back.
Low-voltage lighting makes the rear garden a delight at sunset and during the evening, which makes entertaining so much more enjoyable,” says Ferera.

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