The first thing Bill confronted was the view from the front of the house. "Because the house sits sideways on the lot, facing the driveway and the cinder block privacy wall, I had to figure out how to turn these elements into an attractive front yard," Bill says. The other challenge was giving the Wolins a sense of destination when they drove down their long driveway. "They wanted the entrance to their house to be a pleasant experience," he says. "So why not make the driveway border the best part of the garden?"
Bill first considered stuccoing the wall to match the existing house or planting a tall hedge, but because the driveway is the only sunny part of the yard, it seemed more natural to cover the wall with colorful perennials. "We ended up just painting the wall and then putting in a combination of plants that would thrive in the sun, giving a long show of color," Bill says. The real challenge, however, was to use plants that would cover the wall and look good year-round. Both sides of the driveway are now filled with bright color: narrow-leaf zinnias (Zinnia angustifolia) and autumn sage (Salvia greggii) in full bloom, a butterfly bush sending bright flowers over the wall, and aromatic asters (Aster oblongifolius) cascading in the back. Even in the winter, Gulf muhly (Muhlenbergia filipes) and other ornamental grasses create a striking look. The combination of these plants gives the Wolins a textured view from their house. In the foreground, colorful perennials mask the driveway, and then the taller grasses hide the wall, leaving the neighbors' existing trees to complete the view.
"This garden really is my joy," says Barbara. "The perennial border is constantly changing, and I'm always surprised by it because I forget where I plant things. Then they just pop up and start to bloom, and I'm wondering 'Where did that come from?' "
"Driveway Color" is from the October 2004 issue of Southern Living.