As we are learning to keep our distance yet craving to visit others, I have noticed my gathering spaces are changing. No more dinners on my cozy back porch or parties in the house. Now we are causally gathering in the front yard, the side yard — or even in the driveway.
Yes, the driveway. This is not a Jeff Foxworthy punchline; the driveway seems to be the spot. It is there, spilling into the yard, that we can spread our chairs the necessary 6 feet apart.
It works, but who has a garden in their driveway? Maybe me, with the addition of a few accessories and moveable containers.
I have always enjoyed adding pots of annuals to my garden beds and porches, so I will take on the challenge of creating a new seating area and mobile garden. Let’s start with the location. Is your space sunny or shady? Do you have close access to water for the plants? Will it be easy to grab cool drinks and snacks for your family or guests?
I like the idea of anchoring the space with a few large potted plants. Maybe palm trees, hibiscus trees or pots of hydrangeas. Choosing substantially sized plants will define the space.
Make it easy on yourself and put the large pots on wheels. A plant caddy or plant dolly is worth the small investment; I use them under all of my larger pots both inside and outside.
Now, how about adding a few medium-sized containers? These can be a collection of your favorites. Love a theme? Plant now to have red, white and blue containers ready for the Fourth of July. Consider red superbells, white verbena and blue lobelia. You could go mostly white and create a midnight garden, then add twinkle lights to your seating area for evenings that linger past sunset. No electric? Don’t fret — I’ve seen plenty of lights that are battery operated, just remember to remove them before it rains.
This may be a makeshift space, but why not make it pretty and comfortable? What about adding an indoor/outdoor rug and a small table? Yes, I know you may have this all pleasantly arranged in the back, but there is something about the front or side yard that feels a little safer for friends swinging by to say hello.
Did you have an event planned for this summer that had to be canceled? I have friends who have created outdoor wedding showers and birthday celebrations. Of course, this was done in a small group setting, but it will create lasting memories of milestone moments.
And with the magic of technology, even those not physically attending can participate and enjoy the environment. Other friends now have a standing Friday night happy hour with neighbors across their shared driveway.
Be creative. Thinking about adding new shrubs to your landscape this year? Consider slipping them, pot and all, into a basket for use in your new space this summer and waiting to plant them later in the fall. Keep in mind the soil in containers dries out faster and these pots will need to be watered more frequently than those planted in the ground.
To be honest, I haven’t been in a gathering of more than four people in months and don’t really have any plans for that to change. I want to protect myself and others.
Creating a movable garden or temporary space is a way to have a chat with friends and share lovely surroundings. It allows us to have a bit of whimsy; after all, it is a garden in your driveway, so let’s have fun with this new spot and make the best of our new situation.
Whether your space is a front porch, under a tree or in the driveway like mine, give yourself time to enjoy the moment. I like that my space allows me to feel connected to people I miss yet protect them by remaining the appropriate physical distance apart.