This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area



August 5, 2014

Developing a focal point in the garden

This area along the eastern edge of the artificial turf (the *lawn*) has been a problem for a long time. Because of the slope, water had been undermining this area for years, and a depression had happened. And it was very unfortunate as it was where a lot of people like to walk up to as it's where the spring flowers are planted, including freesia and iris.

The water is good for the flowers, but having an area that was unstable for people to stand on wasn't. So I trimmed back the *grass*, and put in some flagstone. At first, it was just that big chunk in front, which looked ridiculous. Then I *flanked* it, by adding more flagstone along the sides, just to make it look like a bump-out. Now I'm doing the fun stuff, which is what creating a focal point is all about.

I also like to call a focal point like this a *walk-up-to-it*. And there is a very sturdy place to stand, which is the most important part. After that, it's all about giving people something to look at, and showing clearly where you want them to step, and where not to step.

The large piece of quartz there along the leading edge performs the function of limiting where people should step, and it looks good, too. You should never, ever, put something that looks like you can step on it along the edge of a garden. If it looks like a step, it's a step. Pointy rocks don't look like steps. If it's a flat rock, or curbing, people will step up on it, and try to balance. It's human nature.

I still have more refinement that I need to do, as this area will be without foliage until the iris starts to grow back. I'll go see if I can find another pointy rock. Right now, unfortunately, that area there looks inviting to step on, but there are plants there, and I don't want that.

OK, I found a rock that does a gentle overlap along the straight edge of the flagstone. I really didn't like how perfectly straight that edge was, but it was the way this piece of flagstone was cut. So the rock creates a bit of a lip, and while it doesn't dramatically change the shape of that leading edge, it does soften it a bit. I have also added more river rocks, and a small agave. The trick is to have enough going on so it doesn't looks like there is a place to step. As the plants fill in, I will probably need to adjust the rocks, and possibly remove some of the plants.
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