How 4 Homeowners Introduced Color On Their Terrace Or Patio

The terrace of Flora Harris faces South, so the problem was to keep it from reflecting too much heat and glare from the Connecticut summer sun and still look attractive all winter from the living room.

Color terrace patioPin

The floor on one section is smooth concrete, so we can quickly move chairs and wheel tables about, and it is sheltered in summer by a terra cotta awning lined in aqua. Around the concrete-floored section in a wide half-moon are irregular-shaped bluestone slabs set in sand sufficiently far apart for plants to overgrow. Beyond that is the lawn.

Between the stones grow camomile, Corsican mint, tiny heartsease, and thyme. There are eleven varieties of thyme ranging in color from white through lavender and pink to rose; their foliage from soft grey, light, and dark green to an autumnal russet. 

At the eastern edge is southernwood, several clumps of field daisies and some purple prunella edging the path where it isn’t stepped on. On the other outer edge grows mazus, whose carpet of heavenly blue spreads its fringes into the grass; the bloom lasts from early April until late May, when the lawnmower has to take over.

At about that time, tubs of pink geraniums are brought out. They continue to bloom through the summer, spurred on by an occasional extra feeding. Some of the thyme is always in bloom until late autumn when frost discourages it, but the green or the fragrance is never lost.

Thyme stands for courage, and to me, this is well illustrated by the fortitude with which it returns perfume for punishment. The heavier and more frequently it is walked over, the sweeter the fragrance. Camomile, the herb of humbleness, has never changed its character.

In mid-summer, its tiny white daisy-like blossoms loll about in charming disarray. All except the geraniums are hardy.

I was told the Corsican mint would not stand a Connecticut winter, but it has withstood three so far, returning relatively late in the spring, green and fragrant as ever. The mint’s growing time is in late summer, but the thyme continues spreading throughout the warm months and needs frequent cutting away.

There is always a ready hand to receive the cuttings, and I am grateful to share its subtle steadfast qualities with others.

Italian Street Scene

BW Christensen settled on an Italian street scene idea to bring color and uniqueness to her patio.

The patio, partially shaded by the house, was a large cement slab—uninteresting but also practical and sturdy. To dress it up, we made long, low boxes mounted on small wheels and planted tuberous begonias, which were grown indoors.

These boxes are placed in front of our picture window most of the time and are sheltered from the hot sun. I can push them out of the window and water the plants quickly.

One day, I was watching a neighbor put up his shutters and suddenly got the idea of a large cart with a metal frame to support a canopy, much like street flower vendors use. Using bicycle wheels, my husband made the cart (2 1/2′ feet x 4′ feet), then painted it white. I set different flowers in this cart from time to time.

Our patio looked so much like an old-world street scene that we decided to add street signs to our old-fashioned patio lights. They read Rose Garden, SandBox, Greenhouse, and Back Gate.

Portable Patio Planters

Chet Glass used portable planters on his patio – inexpensive containers such as five-gallon steel pails from paint stores, bakeries, tile shops, and garages.

I planted roses in them because the bushes can be kept shapely, bloom a few months after planting, are colorful, and fragrant, and provide cut flowers for the house. I planted thirty-five bushes, one to a pail, and moved each bucket to the patio as the plant in it started to bloom.

After a bush is through blooming, I wheel it to the back of the house and plunge it into a tub of water to soak the soil until the air bubbles stop. Then I spray it with a combination of fungicide and insecticide and apply a balanced plant food dissolved in water. I leave the plant in a sunny area until it blooms again, watering and feeding it every thirty days.

This rotation plan keeps color on my patio for almost the entire year.

Other Good Ideas

Col. A. W. Tolen, Annandale, Virginia:

Col. AW. Tolen, from Annandale, Virginia shares how he found a relatively inexpensive, durable, easy-to-use, and colorful material for the floor of his patio—light concrete blocks 8″ inches by 16″ inches and 1-1/2″ inches thick, in permanent colors.

I used 302 of these in yellow and green, laid in 4″ inches of sand, and alternated colors in a basket weave pattern. The patio is colorful and attractive yet does not clash with the plants surrounding it.

Frank McLean, Jacksonville, Alabama: We established camellias, azaleas, and gardenias around our patio. Among them, we planted spring-flowering bulbs and colorful day-lilies.

Then, we filled some reasonably large pots and cans nearly full of good soil for mid-summer color and plunged them into the beds among the shrubs. Then we sowed a few seeds of mixed balcony petunias in each pot.

They soon climbed among the branches of the camellias and azaleas. Because of the thick camellia foliage, the petunia foliage was inconspicuous, and the camellias appeared to be bursting into bloom again!

Mrs. Anthony Tamborello, Houston, Texas: Our brick patio occupies a southeast corner between a glazed porch and attached garage and extends beyond the garage along a redwood fence to a barbecue pit. The outside edge is curved gracefully and meets the lawn.

On the inside are three raised beds of pink Roman brick filled with flowers to match our flamingo-pink furniture. Two cedar buckets of blue plumbago and a strawberry jar of pink ivy geranium add the final touch of color.

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