Today I am sharing my new little French Country Courtyard that is located right outside my studio shed.
Where I started
I have been putting this part of the garden off for a few years because it was so overgrown. There are two raised beds in there that used to be my vegetable garden until three giant pear trees overshadowed everything. One side was in deep shade, while the other still had strawberries, golden raspberries, and a few herbs hanging in there. The only one that really loved this area was Iris. Wild catnip started growing over there and she would roll around in happy oblivion. I think this helped her get through all the Oliver “kitten” days last summer.
Clearing the Space
Thank goodness, Dino helped me! We had a bunch of little trees, wild honeysuckle, and a giant privet hedge. It took us all evening but we cut out or moved everything! I swear the pile was bigger than my studio! Since there were two raised beds, I decided to get rid of the left one and keep the right since there were still perennial veggies still growing there. Looking at the now cleared space, the thought of a little French Country Courtyard with a potager garden would transition in nicely with the rest of the back garden.
English Cottage/French Country style garden?
A French Country garden is more informal, with a mix of softer plantings that are loosely planted and less structured, but they will still be contained by an edging or a border and have gravel beds that will give it a sense of order among natural settings. You will find some of the following in a French Country garden:
- Stone walls
- Gravel paths
- Planting Beds with Herbs, Annuals and Perennials…even vegetables! Think Potager
- Seating Area
- Water Features
- Planters, Statues and Urns, with a nice patina
Scouring Pinterest and Instagram for French Country gardens was fun and I found lots of inspiration. One article from Forbes described it simply and just as I envisioned. While I had always thought of my style as English Cottage because of the wild and rambleyness of the garden, the more I researched the more I noticed similarities to the French Country style that was already here with our raised beds, potted planters, and pea gravel dining area.
Details and Design on a Budget
With this new garden, I wanted something that looked like it had been there for years with lots of character, and felt welcoming and inviting, and didn’t want to spend a lot on creating it. Shopping my house…and the garden, I gathered and dug up anything that would go into a French Country style garden. I did have a few ‘newer” things to add… using some boxwoods and lavender that I bought on sale the year before that were still in their pots in the greenhouse, plus a climbing rose. And gift cards that were presents from my birthday in June were used to purchase the two outdoor chairs.
Anything that had an Old World look, anything weathered, anything with some type of patina was added to the pile. Terracotta flower pots, an old wine barrel, galvanized watering cans, wire baskets, urns and statuary, and even a broken French bistro chair, were all added.
Creating a French Country Style Courtyard
Once everything was cleared and gathered, I worked all evening, digging, transplanting, and arranging.
Building a raised bed with stones along the fence line for the boxwood, and adding pea gravel to were the old raised bed sat created a little seating area.
Poor little annual root-bound flowers planted from seed in the spring now had a place to live! With the giant privet hedge gone, low and behold, there was sunshine!!! Designating spots for each type of annual and roses, so that they could be enjoyed from inside the garden as well as out was fun. The last thing I did was pot up a few herbs…sage, rosemary, and thyme and place them, I worked almost until midnight with the outside lights turned on.
Coming Next in the French Country Courtyard
Although this garden is not finished, I am happy with how pretty it looks now. Extra space is hard to come by when you only have about 1/2 an acre of land. One thing I would like to finish this year is to add more flat rocks to continue the path and define the edging more clearly around the flower beds. I am also looking for topiaries if anyone has any good insider tips!
If you have any specific questions on the garden that you would like me to try to cover in the next post, please let me know.
oh, and Iris still loves her garden!
Happy Tuesday everyone!
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- The Small Greenhouse in Early Spring – First Look Inside
- My Garden Shed Studio. It has been 13 years, see it now
- My Favorite Gardening Books this Year