Garden Photo of the Day

Filling a Small Garden With Diversity

This Puerto Rican gardener makes the most of his small garden space

Antigonum Cajan submitted these photos of his small but incredibly diverse garden in Puerto Rico. He’s shared his garden with us before, and today it is nice to revisit his tropical paradise while many of us in colder climates are having our first frosts and bracing for the arrival of winter.

The purple flowers in this container come from Ruellia brittoniana (Mexican petunia, Zones 8–11). Though it’s only hardy in quite warm climates, those of us not lucky enough to be living in the Caribbean can still enjoy this beautiful plant as an annual.


A look at the garden from above shows how Antigonum manages to grow so many different plants in a very limited space. There are shade-loving plants below, shrubs above, and a variety of vines clinging to the fences. Whatever climate you garden in, you can use the same principle of layering different types of plants together to make a rich, diverse garden.


Sometimes less is more. Here a vine-covered fence makes a rich green backdrop to a beautiful potted agave.


This long view of the courtyard from above shows to what great impact Antigonum uses vines in the garden. Vining plants are often underappreciated, especially in small spaces. By sending things up fences and falls, you can create a vertical garden. Trends in garden design around the world are decidedly moving toward naturalistic plantings inspired by nature. For some designers in some parts of the world, that means creating meadows and grasslands, but if you garden somewhere warm and rainy, a vine-covered jungle is a much more natural design direction.


Looking down the garden from ground level shows a sunny paradise, with every nook filled with plants. No matter your climate, or how small your space, you can always find a way to garden!


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/26/2018

    Love your courtyard.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/26/2018

    It's always fun to get my cyber passport stamped here at GPOD"S entry point to view wonderful gardens. Yours, Antigonum, is delightfully exotic (to me) and I love seeing such robust flower and/or greenery filled vines tumbling about from above.

  3. paiya 10/26/2018

    The “walk” through your garden makes me feel so relaxed and content. It must be so peaceful to sit there and enjoy the end of a busy day

  4. btucker9675 10/26/2018

    A glass of wine and a chair in that courtyard garden - perfection! Thanks for inviting us in.

  5. Sunshine111 10/26/2018

    I loved seeing your courtyard and can only imagine sitting there drinking my coffee and a lovely morning. I really love the Ruellia combination. So delightful ! ?

  6. wittyone 10/26/2018

    Just beautiful. What an amazing use of vines to soften the walls and provide privacy. A wonderful and creative way to cram lots of vegetation into a narrow and small space. It just goes to show that you can can create a garden just about anywhere and in any situation if you give it some thought and planning.

    Did you experience any (or much) damage during the hurricane?

  7. antigonum_cajan 10/27/2018

    The damages were minimal since the inventory
    is chosen for this context. One Duranta repens, was lost..snapped and a couple of Frangipani branches also, in the south side.

    One Bougainvillea in the west side passed away some time later, a consequence of wet foot..

    I appreciate all comments and observations.

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