Garden Design: Sun-Shade Terrace

by thavila

I’m so exited to share my first Garden Design!, as I explain on my profile, every project and its information is going to be public, so everybody can learn and get ideas for their own garden, terrace or indoor salon.

So, today’s design is about a particular “L” Shaped Terrace,¬†I was asked to design for this terrace a relaxing “tea time” area, a sunbathing area during the summer and a space for aromatic plants; Another tip is that the owners love maples and so do I (+1 for them ūüôā ).

General Information

The terrace is placed in the 4th and last floor, pointing to North,¬†it means that each side of the garden is going to have sunlight for at least a couple of hours. It turns convenient because “all” the different areas of the¬†terrace can be use depending on the needs (nobody wants some unused and forgotten areas and we are here to help!)

The idea for this project is to “divide” the terrace in two seating areas, the first one is going to be the relaxing “tea area”, with some shades and soft lights in the afternoon, while the “sunbathing area”, will have sunny afternoons.


Plant selection:

Different zones

A. Tea area
B. Maples angle
C. Orchard / Sunbathe

  1. Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
  2. Iris ‘Wedgwood’
  3. White Hortensias in tall containers (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  4. White Hortensias in tall containers (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  5. Hosta ‘Halcyon’
  6. Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’
  7. Coral bell (Heuchera x ‘Midnight Bayou’
  8. Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
  9. Festuca glauca
  10. Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’
  11. Aromatic herbs



Tea-time area

The tea area (on the right), was designed as a seating area, with an outdoor sofa in dark wood with cream cushions and a tea table in the same material.

  • On each side of the sofa, tall vases or containers carry white hortensias or Hydrangea macrophylla¬†which, we love and will give the “big garden” effect to the terrace.
  • On the right side of the couch, Trachelospermum jasminoides or star jasmine, gives privacy to the owners and in the same containers, a line of Iris¬†bulbs like Iris ‘Wedgwood’ for a touch of color and different shapes during blooming time; it has purple blue flowers with a yellow mark on the center, it grows up to 65cm tall and blooms between late spring and early summer.

Maple’s angle

As the owners love maples, I decided to design an angle that contrast the tea area with colors and also shapes, this angle¬†needed to be as important as every part of the terrace, it could be a new sitting area in the future, that’s one of the reasons the plants are in separated containers (the other reason is the weigh a big and continuous container can generate on the floor).


  • The same line of containers in clear colors, carry red and acid green maples.¬†Those are filled with small ivy Hedera helix¬†that gives a falling effect and different shapes to the garden.
  • Winter bulbs like Galanthus elwesii or snowdrops will make the difference in cold seasons, mixed in the same container with the ivy.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’¬†is a 6m tall maple with yellow-green leaves and red coral brunches visible during the winter. This maple is in constant color change during the year, even in winter, when the leaves fall, the red brunches will give another shade to the garden.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’¬†is a 5m tall maple, with dark red leaves that change into vibrant red in autumn.
  • Small but strong plants surround the A. p. ‘Sango-kaku’¬†like: Hosta¬†‘Halcyon’¬†a half-sun to full shade compact shrub, tall 35-40cm and 70cm wide. It has blue-grey heart-shaped leaves and grey-lavender bell-shaped flowers carried on stems, tall 40cm.
  • Another great shrub is the Heuchera x ‘Midnight Bayou’ a dramatic coral-bell with red foliage, perfect for growing in containers and beautiful in contrast of green foliage plants. It grows well in partial sun, it is 30cm tall and 50cm wide, in summer it forms stems with white little flowers.
  • Next to the A. p. ‘Bloodgood’ goes the Festuca glauca¬†or blue fescue, an evergreen grass, tall 30cm and blue-gray foliage of erect tufts, it highlights under the red maple foliage.

Sunbathing in an orchard

Some aromatics will help the owners relax while sunbathing, a free space and seating area that’s not visible from the tea area, thanks to the shape of the terrace and the plant selection.

  • The aromatics selection is always easy and hard at the same time, because all of them are beautiful and tasty. Perennial shrubs like rosemary, chives and sage will work just fine to look at and to cook. Other herbs like basil and parsley are placed in separate containers so the owners can rotate and change them in winter.
  • In separate containers I proposed annual plants, like Pelargoniums, better known as geranium,¬†and change it if they want every year.
  • Also in separate containers, I propose perennials like the evergreen Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’ better known as elephant’s ears; It has rounded deep green leaves that turn into purple in winter, it’s¬†60cm tall and it’s perfect to help the garden looking alive in winter.

  1. Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
  2. Hortensias in tall containers (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  3. Hosta ‘Halcyon’
  4. Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’
  5. Coral bell (Heuchera x ‘Midnight Bayou’
  6. Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
  7. Festuca glauca
  8. Aromatic herbs
  9. Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’

There it is!
It’s all about colors during the different seasons, contrasts between colors and shapes is all it takes to start a good project, I hope you’ve enjoyed it!.