Grouping pots gives shape to the space
To make the boxcar shape of the terrace more appealing, Sydney created a linear axis that runs the length of the space. Potted plants are lavishly grouped on both sides and a graceful table anchors the far end.
From a practical standpoint, the terrace serves as an entrance into the main garden from the sliding glass doors in the kitchen. Opposite the 6-foot-wide doors, a comparable opening in the low brick wall leads onto the lawn, providing a view down the long axis of the garden. An axis is just an imaginary straight line, a spine along which elements of a garden can be arranged. I understood this concept in the larger landscape, and found that an axial arrangement on the terrace proved valuable, too.
To make the boxcar-shaped terrace more interesting, it needed to be divided. It made sense to imagine a linear axis running from the entrance at the narrow end to the middle of the wall at the far end (photo, right). One year, I used an Australian rosemary (Westringia fruticosa, also known as W. rosmariniformis) standard set on the wall for a focal point. The wall gave the potted plant added height and importance.
From the start, I had been putting pots of geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) on either side of the wide opening in the low brick wall between the terrace and the garden. But I soon realized that to hold their own with the view, the containers themselves needed to be bigger. So I bought two pots 20 inches high and 24 inches across. At first, I clung to my early planting scheme of red geraniums surrounding tall, spiky dracaenas (Dracaena marginata), with Vinca major draped over the edges of the containers. Later, I made more adventurous choices, such as cannas (Canna cvs.), coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides cvs.), and bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’).
There are two other openings in the perimeter of the brick wall. One at the narrow end links the terrace to the breezeway. This is the approach to the garden that visitors use. A second opening at the far end of the terrace provides access to the dog run. Both entrances are vital. The first needed emphasis to announce its function and appear welcoming; the second needed to be disguised.