Finally, some winter weather, my favorite time to dream up changes to my garden for next year.  I love poring over photos of plants in books, old magazines and the catalogs that started arriving in early December. 

But this time of year is especially good for looking at hardscape - the paths, patios and trellises in our gardens.  And for me this year it's included studying walls around gardens, no matter what they're made of, and what they can add to the whole, especially by the cheap and fast solution of paint or colored wood stain.

Searching the web for “painted garden walls” I came upon one designer/writer, Maureen Gilmer, and I couldn't agree more when she declares: "I believe in paint.  It’s cheap.  It makes huge changes in a matter of hours.  Paint is the poor garden maker’s Yellow Brick Road to bold, beautiful spaces."

I also found another designer (and friend) Shirley Bovshow,who uses teal paint to cover a cinder block wall.  More on that project here.

Searching for “painted garden walls” on Houzz yields a few good examples, like the fabulous one below.

Eclectic Landscape design by San Luis Obispo Landscape Architect Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Forest Green to the Rescue!

Which brings me to my own little project with paint, which I completed just last week (remember when it was balmy, like three days ago?)  I'd posted the photo below of my just-completed patio garden that showed a very weathered basketweave design privacy fence that my neighbor built years ago.  The story was on the blog GardenRant, where commenters speak their minds, and in this case one told me he "cringed" when he saw the screen and that I should paint that thing!

That's what prompted my research of paint in the garden, and I quickly decided I wanted this to be purple!  Go for broke, I say!  That's the color I'd chosen as the primary one for the whole back garden.  (And that suggestion - to choose a dominant color pallet and stick to it for this small space - came from another commenter, landscape architect Thomas Rainer.)

But then another super-honest gardenblogging friend came to visit and immediately nixed the purple idea.  Plus, I discovered that colored wood stains don't even come in purple.  So, cooler heads prevailed and I chose this green that matches my Adirnondack chairs.   (I found one English designer who dared to go purple and I've gotta say - better her than me!)

So you see the result, which will soon be festooned with the evergreen vine Bignonia (crossvine) that you see here in its first season. 

In the corner is a ‘Blue Maid’ holly that’s supposed to grow to 6-10′.  The groundcovers in this little court are the vigorous Sedum takesimense for sun and Creeping Jenny for shade.  Note the PURPLE ornamental kale!

Me, I love the big dose of color, which also looks good from the living room, where it’s a prominent feature out the window.  I just hope it stays this way, despite my failure to follow directions for applying it.  I declined to use the wood cleaner  I was supposed to use first; the chemicals in it are SO NASTY I couldn’t stand the idea of washing them down into my garden soil.  Time will tell.

So, if anyone out there has a dull-looking shed, garage or any other non-plant item in your garden that's looking worse for ware, paint IS cheap, and can have a huge impact, immediately.  It's actually a great winter project, given our record of wimpy winters.

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