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No Lawn Backyard for the Whole Family

Concordia Backyard Re-Design

 

Small city yard in Concordia neighborhood has many garden rooms and a summer sitting area for the office

New Sitting Area Has Easy Access to the New Garage Home Office.

Clients Wish List

Josh and Gina lived in this NE Portland home in the Concordia neighborhood for many years before deciding it was time to hire a landscape designer to redo the backyard. They wanted to convert the garage into an office, redo the back porch and add a hot tub. The kids were growing out of the trampoline and the family wanted more plants for interest as well as to create strategic privacy for the hot tub.

The office and hot tub were part of phase 1 installation and the new porch, which is in a slightly different location than the old porch, will be phase 2.  The design process needed to create a plan that could function nicely during the transition and be a perfect fit after the new porch was installed.

Designers Perspective

Before Landscape Design in Concordia neighborhood

Before

The family wanted to be able to eat outside, have a chicken coop, and enjoy a new hot tub – all within a normal-sized urban backyard. We created the feel of separation with two raised planter boxes. These were offset to create different sized spaces and add depth to the garden.

We decided to put the hot tub in a sheltered location so that we would only need to create a privacy screen for one view. We accomplished this with a tree and evergreen vine.

Diy installation shows the 4 garden rooms in this small Concordia neighborhood back yard

During

New Home Office

Since the old garage was now the office, it would be accessed most frequently from the back of the house instead of the driveway. So we bumped the fence out into the driveway and created a small seating area outside the office. Josh loves the calming, repetitive style                                                                                                                                                                      of a Japanese Garden

Flagstone paths installed by homeowners, dining area, hot tub ready to use in Concordia neighborhood

After- Flagstone Patio with Walkways

We selected plants for this area that would give him this feel on the way to his new office without being too different from the rest of the garden. Once the plants grow up, this little seating area will feel like a separate room from the rest.

Phase 1

For most projects, it is possible to create a design for a phased installation without sacrificing the overall look. This design needed to function for both the old porch and the new porch, which will be about 10 feet to the North. We solved this with  thoughtful use of hardscape materials. During phase one, the space for the future porch is dressed with gravel and pots where they can have fun with veggies this summer. Also, we made sure the contractor did not install the flagstone to fit right up against the existing old porch. That way, when the old porch is removed, they will be able to add additional matching flagstone to the new porch so that it looks seamless.

Malus transitoria 'Golden Raindrops' is the 3 season tree the clients will see from their kitchen.

Malus ‘Golden Raindrops’. The gravel is a placeholder for the phased installation of the porch.

 

Plants

The focal point tree is Malus ‘Golden Raindrops’. The family has only had it in the ground for 6 months and already they are delighted by the changes of the seasons.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

The Japanese Maple is Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’ and is surrounded by short sedges and evergreen ground covers. In a planter nearby, bamboo completes this mini feeling of zen.

We added the Camellia  sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ for those brilliant red flowers in the winter.

Materials

The hardscape is made from irregular basalt flagstone, dry set with generous spacing for creeping evergreen ground covers.

Client’s Reflections

“Josh and I feel so lucky to have found Alana to design our dream garden oasis. It would have taken us years to plan what she masterfully designed in a day! We were not ready to do everything at once, but with a professional design plan customized to our liking, we were able to move forward with a plan. (Even though it has been implemented in stages and mostly diy!) She offered support through the entire process, from the very beginning design stage to follow up after our phased installation.                                                                                                                We would highly recommend her services to anyone who is interested in quality and creative landscape design.” 

Seiryu Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum

 

Contact us

Would you like to create a multi-functional backyard that extends your home into the landscape?  We would love to work with you.  Call us at 503-223-2426 or use our contact form.

 

Grant Park Georgian Style House Gets an Entry Landscape Makeover

Portland Georgian Style Home Gets Entry Landscape Makeover

Landscape Design in a Day transforms a boring front yard into a welcoming entry with serious curb appeal for this Grant Park home in Portland Oregon.

Front Yard – After installation photo complete with Mary’s zinnias on the corner.

Clients Wish List

Mark and Mary have a beautiful double lot in NE Portland and their large backyard is dreamy. They have lived in their Georgian style home for decades.  They felt their existing front yard didn’t play with the house and that the street appeal was lacking.  They wanted the front yard to be at the same level as the amazing backyard. They hired Landscape Design in a Day via a referral from neighbor friends, Chris and Stacey.  See their backyard transformation.

They like their covered front porch for greeting visitors out of the rain, and wanted a secondary space for seating in the front yard. Mary specifically dreamed of a spot to be able to relax in the evening and look up at the night sky.

Mark wanted to retain much of the lawn and Mary wanted to make sure her Zinnia’s still had a spot in the final landscape.

Before photo of Portland residential front yard landscape design.

Front Yard – Before

Designers perspective

Before our new landscape was installed, the house didn’t feel connected to it’s land and the plantings were too sparse to be good company for the house. So, the first task was to create a strong walkway to visually ground the strong Georgian style of the house.

Usually a front walkway feels more inviting when originating from the sidewalk and not the driveway. The intersecting street butts directly into the front yard nearly lining up with the front porch. We were all cautious about having the front walkway start directly from the sidewalk. Since their lot is deep, they don’t park in front section of their driveway so the walkway can still be accessed with ease by their friends and family.  The shape of the walkway also gave us a perfect spot for a dramatic tree and interesting plantings near the front door.

Side Yard Transforms into Sit Spot

Before remodel of Portland client side yard landscape design.

Side Yard – Before Landscape Design w Fatsia Japonica – Japanese Aralia

We combined those Belgian Blocks and the homeowner’s desire for a sit spot into one serene solution. The new stone patio directly to the left of the front porch re-used the old front walk material nicely. This patio is close enough to the porch to give the sense of expanding the front entry. But because it is a few steps down, it allows the homeowners to be in their front yard and see the beautiful views while feeling separated from the function of a front door and the busyness of the sidewalk.

Landscape Design in a Day transforms a boring side yard into a welcoming entry with serious curb appeal for this Grant Park home in Portland Oregon.

Side Yard – After

While it was easy to fulfill their lawn and zinnia requests, it took a bit of a discussion to select the exact small tree for our final planting plant. The graceful form of the perfectly sized Japanese Maple helps balances out the tall evergreens in the neighbors yard. It provides some weight to that side of the landscape and anchors the house. Plus, you can watch the tree’s seasonal changes through the windows of the house – what a treat.

Portland installation of patio pavers with existing Fatsia japonica -Japanese Aralia landscape.

Side Yard – During installation with Sam with D and J Landscape Contracting

Installation

We referred the project to D&J Landscape Contractors .  They installed the landscape design and replaced the driveway.

Plants

The large upright Japanese Maple is Acer palmatum ‘Shin Deshojo’

For summer and fall fun – the ornamental grass Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’.

Landscape Design in a Day transforms a boring front yard into a welcoming entry with serious curb appeal for this Grant Park home in Portland Oregon.

Planting Close up – Little Bunny Ornamental Grass, Sedum ‘Xenox’, Daylilies

The purple-red tones of the Sedum ‘Xenox’ and Heuchera ‘Cherry Cola’ echo the brick of the house.

For evergreen texture – hens and chicks (Sempervivum sp.) and dwarf pines (Pinus mugo) ‘Sherwoods Compact’.

Other plants:  Heathers, American Switch Grass and dwarf varieties of Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Euphorbia, Hydrangea, and Lavender.

Materials

New walkway is Bluestone, patio is re-used Belgian Block

Reflection

Mar and Mary celebrating their newly installed Portland front yard residential landscape design.

Happy Clients

“Mary and I are thrilled with our front yard…it turned out just incredibly beautiful.  There’s so much more dimension to the front now and it is so creatively laid out.  We just really want to thank you for your fine work.  I hope you’ll have the chance soon to stop by and see the final product.  From the bottom of our hearts…thank you.” – Mark and Mary

Contact us

Would you like to create a welcoming entry experience that makes your house look and feel it’s best?  We would love to work with you.  Call us at 503-223-2426 or use our contact form.

 

Vancouver No Lawn Front Yard Landscape Design

Vancouver low-maintenance landscape design entry

After Landscape Design in a Day

Vancouver No Lawn Front Yard Landscape Design

Steve found Landscape Design in a Day after the remodel of their front porch and driveway walkway.  The grass was patchy at best and the plants were overgrown. Steve’s wife recently passed away; she was the gardener in the family and she had wanted a front yard landscape design. Her family wanted to honor her wishes and create a front yard that she would have been proud of, but one that they could care for.

Wish list:

The rose next to the driveway was his late wife’s very favorite plant, so we knew it would

Vancouver low-maintenance front yard landscape design before picture

Before Landscape Design in a Day

stay or be transplanted within the design. The family also liked the camellias that were providing great privacy for the porch as well as hiding the side yard trash can storage area.  No one wanted to mow the slope so no lawn.

They wanted inviting access from the sidewalk to the front porch for guests and to give the house more street appeal. The newly remodeled porch had a large prominent concrete landing. Our challenge was to integrate the new entry porch and the front yard.

Designers perspective:

The front yard has  considerable slope and no entry path. The approach to the front porch needed approximately 7 steps. The garbage cans needed to be brought from under the porch out to the street, which would be easiest to accomplish on a slope if there were no steps.

Vancouver low-maintenance landscape design during picture

During Installation (Sam with D and J Landscape Contracting)

We initially created designs with one walkway that would split – one way toward the garbage cans and gate, the other toward the front door. We found that this took away from the beauty of the new wide porch steps and would require a lot more expensive grading.

So, in the end between our designs and Steve’s input, we decided the landscape needed two walkways – a wide entry walk with modern style steps that welcome you onto the porch and a less obvious smaller NW natural style stone path leading toward the back yard (this path also happens to be perfect for rolling out the bins) to the front sidewalk.

Although the special rose is too close to the driveway, we decided to leave it in place.  The risk of moving it was not worth the possibility of losing it. Yearly pruning will be needed to allow people to pass by without a scratch or a worry as it grows larger.

No lawn front yard:

For lower maintenance, Steve wanted to go with a no-grass front yard. From a designers perspective this is easy to achieve with slope, adding boulders to manage the grade changes, provides a consistent NW Natural look. But with no grass at all, the front was calling for a visually calming negative space.  We designers know that many no-lawn front yards often look and feel too busy.  We were a little surprised when the family immediately liked our idea of a small sit spot for a bistro table or a couple Adirondack chairs. The sit spot acts as that calming negative space and connects the two walkways.  When the colorful plants fill in, this area will be very welcoming, and visually restful even if rarely used for morning coffee.

Installation:

We referred the project to D&J Landscape Contractors  for a fall installation.

Clients comments:

Our newly remodeled front porch and entrance looked wonderful but didn’t fit with our old front yard. We hired Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day.  

She and her assistant Alana came out on a Saturday to create the design with us.  Carol and Alana showed us several proposals.  They were all good, but we liked different parts of each one, and they were able to combine ideas to make a great final plan.  They were able to keep our old favorite trees and shrubs and incorporate them into the new design, including some that were special to my wife.  They also specified some interesting native plants which we liked.

Then at the end, Carol referred her favorite landscape installer so we did not have to find someone on our own.   Donna Burdick of D and J Landscape Contractors managed the construction of the new front yard and steps.  She was thoughtful, well organized and the work of her crew was excellent.  She worked with Carol to enhance the design even further based on some challenges and opportunities she saw from her construction perspective.  The new front yard enhances the remodeled entry and we have received many compliments from the neighbors.  Steve – Vancouver, WA

Plants:

We knew just the right attractive plants that are also low maintenance and can suppress weeds:

Rosemary ‘Golden Rain’ – Dwarf variegated rosemary

Lonicera nitida 'Twiggy' shows off the golden tiny textured leaves in low maintenance landscape in Grant Park neighborhood Portland Oregon

Lonicera nitida ‘Twiggy’ shows off the golden tiny textured leaves in Grant Park neighborhood Portland Oregon.

Lonicera nitida ‘Twiggy’ – Dwarf gold boxleaf honeysuckle shrub

Modern low maintenance Landscape Design Portland Carex m. 'Ice Dance' ornamental grass contrasts with Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil'

Classic modern landscape planting combination; ornamental grass Carex m. ‘Ice Dance with Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’

Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ – Variegated sedge (grass)

Red foliaged Sedum spurium 'Red Carpet' low maintenance landscape groundcover in winter.

Red foliaged Sedum spurium ‘Red Carpet’ groundcover in winter

Sedum spurium – Stonecrop groundcover (hardy succulent)

Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Crystal Rose’ – Hardy geranium ground cover (Cranesbill)

And for that wonderful splash of yellow throughout is Erica carnea ‘Golden Starlet’ – An evergreen heather with early spring flowers for bees and beauty.

Ground cover hardy geranium 'Crystal Rose' lights up a low maintenance sidewalk planting in Portland (Mt Scott Arleta neighborhood).

The warm pink spring flowering groundcover is Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Crystal Rose’ with (Cephalotaxus Harringtonia ‘Korean Gold’ )

With a simple and easy plant pallet, we allow their favorite plants- the Rose and the Camellias – to shine. After a thoughtful  pruning, (by Anne Taylor of Living Elements) the upright Japanese Maple can now show off its glorious leaf colors throughout the seasons and glory in a beautiful silhouette when limbs are bare.

Materials:

The original design called for concrete steps to match the existing but during installation, D&J introduced these Belgard Landing Steps which matched beautifully and were a better choice for the size of the project. Between the steps are these Belgard Pavers in Victorian color which adds a nice texture. The stone used is Camas Basalt Boulders and A-Split Camas Basalt Stepping Stones.

Let’s re-imagine your front yard together.   Contact us here, or call 503-223-2426

Considering an ADU for your Portland landscape?

Considering an ADU for your Portland landscape?

Popular Portland ADUs in need of landscape design

The large windows of the new apartment work with the flow of the existing home. Photo shows nearly completed remodel.

Are you thinking about turning your home or property into an income producing situation with an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit)?

Is your ADU a long term investment or a way to add value to your home for re sale? Do you want a mother in law apartment or do you need to provide living quarters for an adult child with the idea of renting it out to others once the need passes? These are some of the reasons Portlanders are building ADUs – Accessory Dwelling Units at a rapid pace.

What’s my first step you might ask?

Mother in law suite addition before landscape was redesigned for Portland home.

Before: Keep the existing roof and expand  house walls to gain square footage for a mother in law apartment in this North Plains home.

The first step is to find a design build expert on ADU with an emphasis on design. As a landscape designer (and perhaps you are one of my clients?) you have seen the value of design and know that sometimes it boils down to where we want the BBQ or how many steps down from the kitchen to the back yard that divines our final design. It is the same with adding an ADU, whether it is in the basement or a stand alone structure.

There are a myriad of practical details to consider for a successful integration of old and new. You want to gain a desirable ADU, and add function to your existing home and landscape without losing privacy or functional space.

Privacy fence designed for ADU landscape in north Portland, Oregon

An interesting screen design creates privacy between the original home and the new ADU.

Plan landscape integration along with the ADU design

Design with both properties needs for privacy and outdoor functions.

When we are designing a free standing ADU, the landscape goals for the existing home need to be taken into consideration. The best of all worlds is an ADU design/build contractor who works regularly with a landscape designer for collaboration. So bring me into the initial design meetings with your contractor.  My spouse brings me into the initial planning stages of his ADU designs, although he has always thought of the landscape as a full partner to the success of the project, (must be the company he keeps).

Finding a design build contractor with an emphasis on design is necessary to learn what the potential of your property will yield. There may be multiple ways to site the structure and exploring options with both your design build contractor and your landscape designer is the path to a great design that fits you and your property.

Bob is your Guy

My husband Robert designs and builds ADU’s.  We create great spaces together….I collaborate by helping him with options for placement of a patio or point out the advantage of moving a door. Sometimes we surprise the client with a nifty use of space that improves usability of both landscapes. And he is so aware of the potential of the landscape that he sometimes does these things without my assistance…..so if you are looking for an excellent someone to transform a dank old basement into a sparky desirable  apartment or ADU,  convert your garage or build a separate ADU structure in your back yard……..Bob is your guy.

His clients love his work and like the way he takes their ideas and makes them work beautifully (like I do with your landscape).

Bob Lindsay 503-539-5943.  Urban Renaissance LLC 

He has a web site which does not show much about ADUs. It shows one or two remodels but mostly shows the tricky hillside homes he designed and built up in Willamette Heights before 2008.  After the crash in 2008, he transformed his company into a residential design and remodel service.  He especially enjoys ADU’s, studios, and basement remodels.   Call him, 503-539-5943 to talk more about your project.

Here are few of his ADU projects from the past 2 years.

North Plains – add a full apartment for an elder parent.

Design and remodel this home, taking the space of the porch overhang and adding it to the apartment.  This left the original entry to the home untouched and gave wonderful light to the apartment.  After completion, the house still looks like a single family home.

Basement ADU in NE Portland

Design and remodel the basement of this charming bungalow in NE Portland to add a full apartment for use as guest housing or as a rental.

“I hired Bob and his crew to do my kitchen remodel and then again for my basement remodel (into an ADU). They brought a very high level of home building experiences, creativity, integrity and sustainable building practices to the project. The results speak to those attributes and I could not be happier. The entire process from design budgeting tear down to build up was well communicates and efficiently implemented. I highly recommend Bob and his Urban Renaissance team to help you make your dreams become reality.”  Bill B.

Simple adu was built in the deep backyard of a house which faced on the street behind . This adu is designed for ada compliance. and is fully wheelchair accessible.

2 free standing ADU’s -North Portland

Both of these ADU’s are fully ADA compatible, (The American Disabilities Act)

This client has hired Bob for many projects over the past 20 years, kitchen remodels, and their home remodel of the living room and entry.  The most recent were these 2 free standing ADU’s built to be rentals.  Both are wheelchair accessible and comply with the American Disabilities Act.

Thinking of adding an ADU to your backyard or home?  Contact me Carol Lindsay for a thoughtful landscape plan that we create together at your kitchen table.  Working together makes the best designs.

 

Privacy for Tiny Urban Back Yard in Buckman Neighborhood

Tiny Buckman Neighborhood Backyard needs Hardscape Landscaping

After photo of tiny urban back yard in Buckman neighborhoodMy client’s 1909 house fills most of his 36’ by 100’ lot. My mission?  Transform his tiny narrow utilitarian “yard” into a private and relaxing place to be for summer. He was especially interested in finding a designer with a close working relationship with an installer.  He didn’t want to end up with a great design and no one trusty to install it.

Client want list

Before photo of tiny urban back yard in Buckman Neighborhood needing hardscape landscaping.Usable private outdoor sitting space for 2 with a meditative and natural feel

Hide the garbage cans from sitting area but keep easy access

Privacy from south and west neighbors’ windows

Very low maintenance

Dog friendly

Use plants that remind him of nature

Use the most environmental materials and low water plants.

Designers Perspective on the existing site

My client was making do with a 3’ x 3’ private sitting area. It was only private with the back of his Adirondack chair tight to the fence. The neighboring houses had large windows and “looked” down into the tiny yard and one of the garages (happily with no windows) sat on the property line and was part of the yard enclosure.

He loved the neighbor’s large and mature cherry tree. There was a high 30’ long single branch whose side branches provided cool shade all along the back of the house. They were beautiful to look up into, but the branches were too high to provide privacy. I think there is something very inviting about being under tree branches. The downside was the sticky cherry pits.

Dog Friendly

After photo close up of hardscape landscaping stone planters with privacy tree just installed Buckman Neighborhood

Look closely for the ‘Pacific Fire’ Vine Maple privacy tree with coral red tiny trunk

Many city dogs spend a lot of time on walks and at the park so the small yard would not be his primary exercise or potty area.  Initially we talked about using my happy dog cedar chips as an easy care and affordable surface, but we decided flagstone would be easier for cleaning up the sticky cherry pits and be better for re sale value.

Creating a private sitting area

How small can you go? I prefer an 8 x 8-foot minimum area to fit a 36” table w 4 chairs. While space for 2 was fine with my client, we agreed space for 4 would add re sale value.

Where should our sitting area go?

The narrow back yard was eliminated because there were too many unknowns as to what we could do with the exterior of the neighbors’ garage. So, we circled back to the side yard for our private area. There were many problems to solve to make this area work.

After photo in Urban Back yard Buckman Neighborhood with hardscape landscaping

Carol LIndsay, Landscape Design in a Day

This was the widest area available at 8’ x 9’, just right for our private sitting area but it had the disconnected downspout extension sticking out into the walking area by a foot. It was a trip hazard. The path to the front yard and garbage cans cuts through this area. Once I remembered my client took out his garbage from the front door, I was confident we could make our sitting area on the side.

My privacy solution was multi-purpose

I used two large stone planters at 18” high with a wall cap for sitting.  Our screening plant material is planted at 18” above grade and gives our plants a boost so they will be tall enough to create some privacy in the first two years. Another advantage to the planters is our plants won’t be competing with the mature cherry tree roots.

We needed privacy screening in the 8 -10-foot range but for summer months only. Most people don’t sit out in their courtyard here in Portland in the winter months. It’s important to know whether I want evergreen or deciduous screening. If I only want summer privacy, I can use a deciduous small tree. They provide privacy faster because they are typically round headed and make screening right where we want it.  An evergreen conifer is very narrow at the top, so it takes years to get the screening where we want it and there are very few small fast growing leafed evergreen trees for shade.

Privacy from kitchen back door window

I did want evergreen for the view from kitchen. I used shade tolerant Azara microphylla – Box leaf tree.  It’s one of very few leafed evergreens with the right shape that is fast growing.   The attractive stone planters add an inviting presence from the tiny back porch and make a second sitting area.

Hiding the garbage cans

I created two wood screens to hide the garbage that can be walked around, setting them 6 feet apart makes for a very comfortable access.  The simple screens match the existing fence.

After photo of hardscape courtyard for tiny urban back yard in Buckman neighborhood

Before photo of tiny urban back yard in Buckman Neighborhood

Trip hazard solved

The trip hazard downspout extension had to go away. It stretched across the only access path area between the kitchen door and the new private sitting area. Happily, Donna Burdick D & J Landscape Contractors was able to design a solution.  She installed one of the new flow wells.  Now the water from the downspout goes under the stone path and into the flow well unobtrusively.  The flow well has a tiny little cap for cleaning out. These kinds of solutions allow us to use the square footage available to the client.

This garden design is very simple, and the solutions consist more of hardscape then they do from plants. This is perfect for my client.  Over ‘gardenifying’ this landscape would not have been in his best interests. Having said that, I will be happy when the small trees, ferns and ground covers mature and bring more life to the courtyard. On planting day, it looks a little skimpy on the planting side of our design.

The cool back yard area was not neglected even though it may never become a sitting area for my client.  We created 2 different design ideas for the 7’ deep back yard.  Both added a small tree to block the large window on the far end of the corridor like yard and this planting area was installed.  Halfway through the installation he learned the neighbor was remodeling the old garage which sits on the property line into an ADU.  Our client decided not to change anything else there. Once it’s finished, he may consider integrating the back yard into the new landscaping.

Client Comments

“From the concept and design through implementation, I really appreciated Carol’s understanding of my needs and desires, and her ability to think outside the box on my behalf for a solution for a small tight space that suited me. The design kit, survey and phone interviews gave me a sense of ownership of the project. Carol’s expectations and availability were clear. My advice is to spend some time on the kit and bring your ideas to vet with Carol. Seeing the outcome, my only regret is that I didn’t commit to this project years earlier”.  Ben

I love challenging landscapes.  Contact me with your twisty little yard and let’s find a great design that makes best use of your property. Whether small or large, your landscape can be made to suit your lifestyle with hardscape and landscaping. Go to my Contact Page for more info.

Landscape Designer:  Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day

Landscape Contractor:  Donna Burdick of D & J landscape Contractors

 

Materials used

Planters-Concrete pavers with an 8” concrete cap

Sitting area surface – Variegated Lavender Blue Stone Flagstone mortar set

Garbage can area surface – Fiberx Cedar Chips

Wood screens to hide garbage cans were built to go with the existing fencing and are simple cedar boards.  Our client plans to use an oil to preserve the wood once the dry weather arrives.

Flow well

 

Plants

Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’

Azara microphylla – Box leaf Azara

Pacific Northwest Native Plants: Vaccinium ovatum – Huckleberry, Polystichum munitum – Sword Fern, and Dicentra formosana – Bleeding heart, various maidenhair fern and groundcovers