A Garden for Living In

This Southern California gardener created a series of garden rooms where she can enjoy her garden year round.

Start in Front

Your front yard sets the tone of your landscape. Here, the Broidys ensured plenty of curb appeal with a lush lawn and beautiful plantings of roses, lavender, and other blooms leading to the house.

By the way: See the last picture in this slide show for what the Broidys had to start with. The impressive transformation is sure to inspire you as it did us.

Test Garden Tip: Don't overlook the importance of your lawn. Brown, patchy grass can distract from the beauty of your landscape and home.

Create a Comfortable Outdoor Living Space

This patio is just one of the outdoor living spaces the Broidys have added to their Southern California landscape. Nestled in among banks of fragrant roses, the patio is a relaxing retreat.

Test Garden Tip: A variety of small trees throughout the yard give the impression that the yard is much larger than it actually is. The trees also help lend a more intimate aspect to the patio. If you want to add trees to your yard, plant them so they block main views. That way you have to turn a corner in the garden to see what's next.

Dress Up the Ordinary

This simple concrete slab patio became a wonderful -- and tasteful -- gathering place. A simple pergola covered in garlic vine (Cydista aequinoctialis) provides privacy and shelter from the hot sun. A formal gravel path with a low fountain in the middle draws your eye to the patio as a destination.

Test Garden Tip: Put in a low water feature that won't distract from the other views in your garden. Sometimes a simple fountain is more effective if it's heard without being seen.

Enjoy Fresh Flowers

The Broidys grow a variety of roses in their garden. These roses are great table decorations or hostess gifts. They're perfect for bringing part of the garden indoors, too.

Test Garden Tip: Cut flowers tend to last longest if you pick them first thing in the morning. The warmer the temperature when you pick them, the sooner they'll fade.

Make Your Own Arrangements

The Broidys love bringing freshly cut roses indoors where they can enjoy the beautiful shapes, colors, and scents. Here, white Centranthus combines beautifully with single pink 'Ballerina' and double peachy-pink 'A Shropshire Lad'.

Test Garden Tip: Most flowers last longest when cut if you remove any foliage that sits on or under the vase's water. Submerged foliage starts to rot, quickening the decline of your cut flowers.

Create Spaces to Enjoy Your Garden

No matter how big or small your garden is, leave spots to enjoy it. The Broidys added a simple bench under this rose-covered arbor. It's a perfect spot to rest and take in the beauty of the garden. (We wish we were there right now!)

Test Garden Tip: While this looks like a grand scene, you can get the look fairly easily for about $250 with a do-it-yourself arbor kit, a couple of varieties of climbing roses, and a simple bench.

Pick a Signature Plant

Roses are one of the Broidys favorite flowers. This golden 'Graham Thomas' English rose adds a splash of bright color and sweet scent to the garden. Other English roses fill the garden with color and texture.

Test Garden Tip: Be especially careful when picking yellow roses, as yellow varieties can be some of the hardest to grow. Top yellow selections include 'Graham Thomas', 'Yellow Submarine', and 'Flower Carpet Yellow'.

Use Layers

Add depth to your landscape by layering. Here, the Broidys used a mass of white 'Iceberg' roses with a space of lawn behind to create a vista to the rose garden beyond.

Test Garden Tip: You can create the layered look with any kinds of plants -- or even structures like a low fence. Just keep an open space, such as a lawn, between the front area and the back.

Choose Plants Wisely

It's important to choose the right plants for your garden, especially roses. The Broidys selected roses best adapted to their Southern California climate.

Test Garden Tip: Check with local experts to find out the best varieties suited to your climate. Don't be surprised if you hear different opinions; two experts could have different experiences growing the same rose. Gardening is usually full of surprises.

Purple Tiger Rose

The Broidys added a touch of whimsy with the colorfully striped blooms of rose 'Purple Tiger'. In addition to being beautiful, the rose also has a lovely old-rose fragrance.

Test Garden Tip: Many hybrid roses, including 'Purple Tiger', are sold in a variety of forms. Tree forms are especially good choices for growing in formal gardens and containers.

Formal Design

The Broidys took advantage of formal elements to give their landscape a classic feel. Here, gravel paths intersect to meet a bed of sweet alyssum, purple-leaf sage, and purple statice. A copper sculpture adds a playful element and repeats the more formal sundial back behind.

Test Garden Tip: Repetition is a powerful tool in garden design. By repeating a plant or other element, you help tie areas of your garden together. The more cohesively your landscape parts fit together, the better done your landscape typically feels.

Maximize Your Space

Because the Broidys created so many pockets and nooks in their yard, it feels much larger than it really is. Here's what the Broidys had to start with.

Test Garden Tip: Even if your yard is a quarter of this size, you can use the same tricks to create a series of garden rooms that will make your yard feel so much larger.

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