Garden Photo of the Day

A Space Within a Space

By Kim Charles

Pamela Pierce from Eugene, Oregon, has created a new favorite destination within her garden setting.

"I have been gardening in our typically sized (small) urban lot for 16 years. I used to think the challenge was how do I make room for all the plants, trees and shrubs that I must have… but I now realize that the real trick is creating space within space to make the small garden bigger. I began to think about this after visiting the Chinese garden in Portland…the garden is only one city block but it feels so much bigger and does not have a massive amount of plants, yet there are so many "vistas" and rooms you can get lost- it's magical and masterful. Recently I redid a little seating area changing only two things, I redid patio by adding a pebble mosaic and changed the seating from bistro style to adirondack chairs, we already have main seating area closer to the house but this little (previously never used) area has become a favorite destination."

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  1. user-3565112 06/30/2017

    Good morning Pamela, Your space within a space trick is a terrific idea & is working beautifully. I really like your plant selections,the view over the gate along the path & the patio under the pergola. The colors & textures are well blended & looks peaceful & serene.You've created another PNW masterpiece,good luck,Joe

  2. LauraH77 06/30/2017

    What beautiful, relaxing spaces you've created. Thank you for sharing your photos. It's encouraging to know that we can make our own retreat just a few steps away.

  3. user-4691082 06/30/2017

    Good morning Pamela! Thanks for sharing your garden with us. I really love, love, love your covered dining area. Do you have a lot of mosquitoes? Your lesson on space is well timed. I really enjoyed your post! And thank you for no photos of tarantulas and snakes! I'm teasing Jesse from a few days ago for his post!!

    1. frankgreenhalgh 06/30/2017

      Hi Rhonda - yes the impacts of Jesse's posts live on! He will love it i.e. when he comes up for air after his herculean effort comprehensively responding to everybody.

    2. tennisluv 06/30/2017

      I was clearing weeds from around a large area of creeping Juniper when the image of Jesse's venomous snake came to mind. Needless to say, I stopped weeding in that area.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 06/30/2017

        Hey Sonya - It's good to be careful, but gee, Jesse has really got to you. Here in Oz, we always look down when walking through long grass.

        1. tennisluv 07/03/2017

          Jesse's comments did not really get to me. I grew up in South Georgia living along side a creek, bog, swampy area and hunted water moccasins with a BB gun. Got my fair share of kills. Jesse's comment simply reminded me that it pays to be careful when working in areas in the south where plants are overgrown and that snakes would find an inviting place to live and hide. If I don't use that unnamed 'bad' weed killer for the area, I will be back out pulling weeds there again tomorrow - using a stick to beat the juniper before I proceed into them. Many snakes first reaction to an intruder is to freeze and only strike if that doesn't work. I respect them, understand their response to what they perceive as an attack, and give them wide berth and time to move away. For me, it was a good excuse to stop for the day given the heat, sun and humidity. FYI, locals used to capture rattlers, put them in bags or containers in their trunks (car boots, may be your terminology) , then take them to town to sell to venom milkers. Lots of bragging rights on sizes and number of rattles.

          1. frankgreenhalgh 07/03/2017

            Thanks for that information, Sonya. You certainly know what you are doing concerning snakes. I don't know about those rattler hunters though. There were plenty of tiger snakes (4th most poisonous snake in the world) along the river on our family farm, but we lived together through mutual respect. Cheers, Frank

          2. tennisluv 07/04/2017

            In addition to moccasins and rattle snakes, we had coral snakes (second most poisonous behind Mambas). We also had red king snakes that are not poisonous but have the same color banding as the corals, but in a different order. Early in life we were taught this rhyme: 'Red touches black, safe for Jack. Red touches yellow, kills a fellow.'

      2. User avater
        LindaonWhidbey 06/30/2017

        That must have impacted all of us because I thought about those photos as I was knee deep in an epimedium patch but then remembered that our snakes are tiny and harmless:)

        1. User avater
          gringopeligroso 07/01/2017

          I recently learned of this tiny fellow. I was digging a hole for a shrub and noticed the worm at the site.....only it didn't move like a had a backbone.
          It also had scales. This is a Worm Snake....appropriately named me thinks, and they are all over North America. They are expecially thick and are actually the most common snake in Northern Virginia. (We won't mention the other common ones which work on the Hill :-0 )
          They range up into Southern New England and Westward to the Great Plains, if'n not farther. They live undergound, mostly and feed on ant larvae. I don't often use the cute and snake in the same breath!

      3. User avater
        gringopeligroso 07/01/2017

        Ms. Peel!
        I did NOT mean to generate that kind of impact on your activities!
        I hope you'll read my reasons above, if'n you're still following this thread.

        I don't like these things and I durn shure DON'T seek them out and invite them in. In fact, I go out of my way to make THEM feel uncomfortable here.
        My weeding activities have taken on what might be described as a frantic pace. My wife, (the boss) now sees why I mow the lawn to golf course standards. And, while I'm envious of y'all that have draped pathways in your gardens, mine must be generous and overly wide...which equates to less space for new plants and flowers....sigh......
        I give them very few places to hide and rest, so NOT weeding is counter-productive and may make them feel safe and secure...the LAST thing I want.

        Not sure where you're at as to habitat, but a couple of tips from me may help:
        1.) Use a small long stick (e.g. Bamboo) to make a ruckus where you plan to work for the day. Poke, prod, swish, bang, etc, until you're comfortable there's nothing there. Then weed, or plant or prune, etc. Repeat for the next section. BUT, be a smart country girl: The last thing any outdoor type person will want to do is back any wild creature into a corner. When you can, be kind and offer an escape route.

        2.) Make noise. It works for bears and cougars. It also works for other varmints. Lawn mowers and weed eaters are especially good and obnoxious for making things move and become scarce!! A good and lively playlist from your device with speakers might also be effective!!

        3.) Cats. Felines and serpents are natural enemies. Who knows why, but they hate each other. (Similar buffet preferences??) We have several, here, and a lot of farmers and ranchers here encourage barn cats to stay around. Our cats will worry snakes into leaving, but we've found that we can tell when there's one around just by watching their (the cats) behaviour. Just can't tell which kind until we spot it and make an id.
        Some dogs are also good at this. While growing up in W. Texas as a youngster, we had a Wire-Haired Terrier named Lassie. Lass killed any and every rattler which crawled into her yard.

        4.) Children. We're making more all the time.
        OK, just kidding on that one, but if you are really terrified, and some folk are, give a neighbour a dollar or two to exercise option 1 and 2, above for ya, Cookies also work!!

        As I said, most of us will never see this in y'all's places of beauty. A few may spot the occassional garter and even less will ever see why the Racer is named that. But, DO keep the weeds at bay and cleaned's one of the best things to do proactively.

        1. tennisluv 07/03/2017

          Jesse, I did not mean to worry you pretty little head with my reaction. I grew up in South Georgia along a creek, bog, swampy area and hunted water moccasins with a BB gun as a young girl; water moccasins, rattlesnakes, & other venomous snakes are quite common in our area. Your commentary simply reminded me that care should be taken when working in overgrown areas. There are areas where that 'unnamed' weed killer comes in really handy and this maybe the one area in my landscape where I may decide to use it. Beating the bushes with a big stick would be my first course of action; unfortunately my walking stick, hoe and shovel were hanging by the back door. Given that it was hot and humid, I opted to take the easy way out, called it quits for the day, and poured a nice cool glass of white wine. Tomorrow, I plan to be back out, stick in hand, beating juniper bushes, and pulling weeds. God, knows that with all the rain and the cooler than usual temps in my area of God's little green earth, the weeds are about to consume all my new plants, my home and me. ;-)

          1. User avater
            gringopeligroso 07/03/2017

            Ms. Peel!!
            Little Head, here!! "Pretty": not so much!!
            OK, NOW i know I'm dealing with a Southern Country Girl, and she goes Lookin' for trouble!! (Remind me to stay on your good side!!)
            How's your aim these days? We could use you here!! Plenty of targets, as we have all those as well.
            And, thank you! You said what everyone needs to remember: Care should be taken..... THAT was the point I wished to convey, as at the time, I was in La-La land, and I should've known better. (little head!!)
            My attitude has changed 180°. I now EXPECT to see them here, but am not disappointed when I don't.

            Sounds like that weather system which was over us for the last couple of weeks has moved over you. And, yes, it's quite the accelerator for growth.....particularly the unwanted kind.
            Our heat and humidity is also beginning to ramp up into the miserable range. It may, could, and probably will go into the oppressive part of the scale before too long. Dangerous comes next.

            I also slow down a bit, and change hours this time of year. It's foolish to do otherwise. I think last summer set a record for the number of heat injuries treated at our local ERs. And, these were folks who are used to the conditions.
            I may hate the stuff, but I too, have a can of that chemical and there's places and times where I paint on green Armageddon. The Johnson and Bermuda grasses where I've pulled 3 times already (roots and all) are fixin' to taste the nasty stuff.....I am SO there with you on the weeds.....relentless they are, and so too must I become!

    3. User avater
      gringopeligroso 07/01/2017

      Rhonda!! JUST like my sisters.....teasing me, that is!!!
      I reckon it's good to have a mission in life! And, I KNOW it's good to have a little fun and laughter!!

      I really didn't mean to have that lasting of an impact!!
      I honestly believe that most reading these posts will never experience a hot serpent in their activities. And, fewer still will see a tarantula or roadrunner. I get the impression most here live and garden in the urban, suburban and ex-urban areas of our lands. I've found that most people in general think that the only good snake is a dead snake. And, most work to accomplish that goal. As a result, and after a couple or more generations, most of us live in viper-free areas. And, that's good.
      My intentions in submitting those shots were simple. I KNOW that VERY few who stop by here in the mornings will EVER see these things in their gardens or lives. And, actually, I sure hope not!! Heck, I don't even want them in MY gardens....but, occasionally they're here. I also don't want Poison Ivy in my beds, but every year I usually find it....and usually it's in my handful of weeds I just yanked!! Point is, that i think we all enjoy different views of different places.

      A few more readers MAY come across other snakes or spiders in their activities. My other goal was education. I feel we should all know the difference between a venomous and non-venomous snake. Here in North America, we only have 4 to know. I feel for the gardeners in Latin America, Southern Asia, Africa and Australia, etc,, and I Thank Goodness we don't have Fer-de-Lances this far north! (Even more fortunate are our readers in Hawai'i or on Whidbey, Puerto Rico, etc.)

      And, as far as spiders, I was surprised that more readers were bothered by that image versus the copperhead picture. I've also learned not to take these for granted, either, and not all are created equal.

      For the rest of us who live beyond the sidewalks, we should know what we're dealing with. And, in this case, ignorance is NOT bliss. It's fear; it's needless worry; it's at worst, a race to the nearest ER. (Frank and I were chatting a post or two ago about the cost in this country of that visit......he nailed it: Insane.) He also echoed, below, what everyone out here should be where you walk!
      We have a rule here that no-one goes out to the barnyard, greenhouse or gardens after dark without a flash light. (We get the super bright ones!!)

      So, I wasn't trying to scare anyone, but apparently that's what happened, and for that I'm sorry. I DO hope that for the very, very few who will run across one of these, they'll do a double take instead of a panicked fleeing and screaming. If it's a rat snake or ribbon snake, the screaming doesn't have to be so loud, and the pace can be throttled back just a bit! If we know the difference, that knowledge is empowering. If we are not sure, then assume it's hot and scream away!!!

      PS: With all my talk, it may surprise you that I fear snakes and lately spiders a bit more. Also scorpions, wasps, etc. Not so much a by-product of age and timidity, but from experiences, I'm afraid. I've several truley terrifying (to me) experiences which I'm careful not to share with just anyone, including a surprise of a sea snake...perhaps the MOST poisonous of all. I don't know WHY these damn things keep popping up in my life periodically, but they do. So, I've learned about them and it helps....a lot!

      1. user-4691082 07/01/2017

        You are so right, Jesse. My (unfounded) fear comes from my childhood. A well meaning neighbor hacked a small garter snake with a shovel all the while screaming her head off. It made such an impression on me- but you are so sweet to write that long post to me! Have a wonderful fourth with your family. Now, wasn't there a song from the 70s named Jesse? Hmmmm

  4. thevioletfern 06/30/2017

    What a wonderful garden! I love gardens that beg to be explored. I could simply sit at your table and explore all those lanterns and potted containers for hours as well as sit in those awesome ADK chairs and explore that pebbling. Not to mention, the plants. You have it all!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/30/2017

    Wow, Pamela, thanks so much for this wonderful photo tutorial on how to make garden spaces seem to go on and on. Your two different curving garden paths successfully show this concept to perfection. I would definitely want to "meander" by what looks to be a dark leafed ninebark and heads towards the bright foliaged sambucca(?) in picture #3. Your dining space seems so private and protected and very interesting. I love your redo of your patio...the pebble mosaic adds a delightful amount of artistic flair...very impressive!

  6. DarliBarli 06/30/2017

    It is clear you are a gardening diva...what a beautiful spot you've created. The Pacific Northwest is such a wonderful place to garden and I do miss living there. Thank you for sharing your lovely garden with us.

  7. chelleisdiggin 06/30/2017

    Hello Pamela, I'm really enjoying your pictures this morning! There are so many layers of plants that I find something new in each one as I keep scaling up and down. I love your "new" patio. It reminds me of so many I've seen on Pinterest that I thought were beautiful but too difficult and complex to really pull off. Kuddos! You did it!. And the view enhanced by the rounded half-door, is just magical. Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/30/2017

    So great! Your small garden is full of vistas, destinations, hidden views to pull one forward, and great plants. Kudos on achieving your vision with style!

  9. tennisluv 06/30/2017

    Great use of space and plants. Your garden certainly entices one to follow the paths to see what's around the bend. The seating area you reworked definitely calls one to sit and enjoy the lushness of your plantings. Dinner on your covered patio must be delightful. Thanks for sharing.

  10. sheila_schultz 06/30/2017

    Now Pamela... are you sure you only have a smallish, urban back yard? These photos scream acreage to me! You definitely have this 'visual thing' down to a science. Your winding path invites one to take a relaxing stroll and admire the lush plantings, then maybe rest for a while on your charming sitting area. Love the mosaic!

  11. wittyone 06/30/2017

    Well it's all been said already. You have done a beautiful job. Taking a small area and breaking it up into even smaller pieces sounds counterintuitive as far as making it seem larger but by golly, it sure does work!

  12. LaurelEm 06/30/2017

    Beautiful retreat. I could sit there for hours I am sure. Is the bright leaved small tree, in picture 3, a Tiger Eye Sumac? Do you find that it tries to be invasive in your situation? I've been contemplating getting one or two of them, but worried at the same time.

  13. user-6536305 06/30/2017

    Pamela you have cultivated every square inch of your garden and artistically decorated every cubic inch of your garden. Well done and love it all. Could you please tell me what is the name of the Chinese garden you were talked about in your commentary? This is because we are in the area every year except this year...... Would certainly like to pay a visit. Thanks for sharing.

  14. greengenes 06/30/2017

    Nice gardens Pamela! I cant imagine the wonderful smell of the sarracoca at the entrance! Do did a wonderful job on the patio too! Thanks for sharing!

  15. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 06/30/2017

    Good morning, Pamela. It's taken me awhile to get to the comment part this morning as I've been wondering in your "huge" garden revisiting each photo several times. I love the view of the garden through your gate and your outdoor dining area is so inviting. Is that an empress tree in your new sitting area? Love your color combos, too. Thanks for a good share.

  16. ingridcook 06/30/2017

    Very lovely. Love it all!

  17. user-7007498 06/30/2017

    Pamela, thanks for sharing your garden with us. You are so right, the key to a small garden is to control the view so only bits and pieces can be seen, which leads to discovery and the feeling of a large space. Well done. Loved the seating areas. Have a great weekend.

  18. User avater
    gringopeligroso 06/30/2017

    Ms. Piece!
    There's a school of thought which believes "Less is More." I've done that lesson when called for and can say that when done well, drama and precision take centre stage. Very attention catching! A 4 String Quartet can be amazing with the right selection, as can others with more contemporary choices, such as the Beatles or Led Zeppelin to cite a couple of better known talents. My point is there's a lot of latitude even with this mantra of design with some absolutely stunning results.

    But, there is another school of another style. And, those selections and presentations require a bit more finesse and subtlety. They dwell in the presence of a full blown symphonic orchestra with choir backup...2, no 3 tympani's, please!! Listen to the Clarinet, section, with first, second and third chairs. And, all the types of Clarinets!!! Multiply those numbers and notes, and layer and weave them! Solid, yet too, fleeting. Then, there's the Brass section!! Now THERE'S drama!! Strings: All over the place emotionally!! And, percussion keeping order employing syncopation over all! And, may we have a glockenspiel,too? (Ref: your Sumac!!) Quiet and in the background, until just the right break. SO regal and commanding when employed tastefully!!

    The Conductor's podium (you) has 240 lines of notes compared with the single instruments' page. You've woven and blended beautifully! The depth is profound. The layers complex, not forgetting to mention pleasing as well! Very nice!
    But, like a good performance, one doesn't hear (nor see) all there is to on first pass. Thank goodness for this case digital. Like others, I'll be revisiting again, later!
    Nicely and richly composed, to be sure!!

    Oh, Did I forget the Choir?? Not at all. 'tis us!!

  19. Sunshine111 07/01/2017

    I love the vignettes you have created! Exactly my style!

  20. annek 07/01/2017

    I'm a bit late to the party but wanted to convey my delight at your gardens. I couldn't express it better than Jesse, so will just totally agree with his orchestral performance simile. Your garden is grand!

  21. Cenepk10 07/02/2017

    Really beautiful garden Great shots of the path & the sheltered dining spot affords a great view of all your commendable design work. Nice.

  22. user-5117752 07/03/2017

    Now REALLY, Jesse, who can say anything after you've written your piece?!!!! So, I'll just say I agree with Jesse! Simply stunning!

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