Living in cities, most of us only have a little space in the front or out back for a garden. One of our readers (Bindhu N from Killipalam) has written in asking how to modify her existing front garden. She has a lawn but wants something more manageable — potted plants and maybe a bed or two of flowering plants. The reader also mentions that she has a tall light in the middle of this space. I thought it would be interesting to visualise this and work around it, to give you all some ideas.
Potted plants are easy to maintain and can be used in different places and different combinations to give your home a new look every now and then. So, for instance, you could get about 30 potted plants, perhaps eight in 12” pots, 10 in 9” pots and the rest in assorted ceramic, glass and terracotta containers of various sizes.
Now comes the exciting part, choosing the plants. For the large pots, it’s best to get plants that grow big and bushy. Large crotons, bougainvilleas in different colours, and Indian jasmine are good options.
Since we are talking of a home garden, Barleria Cristata or December Poo and Crossandra or Kana-kambaram also work.
Lilies in different colours, areca palms, and plumerias are plants that are available in almost all nurseries and are easy to maintain.
For the smaller pots, get money plants, smaller crotons in different colours, zamia, oleander (Arali), and hybrid varieties of roses, gerberas, chrysanthemums, pansies and seasonal flowering plants. The small, variegated planters can hold fancy plants like zamias, asparagus, lilies, and 10 o’clock plants.
You could also have a few ornamental pots with adenium, cacti and Bonsais. Now that your potted plants are done, it’s time to create the garden.
Plan your flower beds at the end of the garden or close to the boundaries. Plants that grow tall, like canna lilies with their large orange and red flowers, add a lot of colour and are perennial plants in our tropical climate. You could also opt for tall oleanders in a row of red, pink and white colours.
Tall creepers like blue bells, bougainvillea, betel leaf or Vethilai, and Nithya Malli also work for the first row against the wall. In front of this line, arrange a row of potted plants, and then plant another bed with shorter plants — dwarf allamanda, golden duranta, or lavender are good choices. This creates something close to a step garden.
The reader mentions a tall light in the centre of her garden. This can be played up. Place pots all around it, and add a fancy shade to the lamp (terracotta, poly-urethane, or tinted glass) for effect. It adds character to the space. How about a bench or cane chair under it? Even a large granite stone or rock could work as a seat.
Besides this, you can place small potted plants on windowsills and ledges, or hang plants from arty, terracotta containers in your porch or from window overhangs. Your little haven is ready.
The writer is an environmentalist who works on landscaping projects in public and private spaces. Mail her at email@example.com