Where it started...
This photo is from 2012 showing what was there previously, although it only shows a small area of the courtyard.
After digging the agapanthus out of the east facing fence, and the lawn, I put down these three beds and got some soil mix in to fill them. In hindsight this spot was not the best site for the main bed, one because there's a tree in the middle of the bed, and two because it receives only limited sun during the colder months. There is a good layer of coarse gravel at the bottom that should hopefully keep the tree roots out and assist drainage. At some point I'm considering moving it to where the lawn area is, then planting a shade tolerant lawn at the base of the three, but it would be a lot of work. I'm learning what can grow okay over winter in the bed, like root crops and so on. Turnips for example did quite well this cool season.
I have a little bricked area which was apparently built to house bins, but the bins are collected on the other side of the house. Instead I am keeping my worm farm here and a compost tumbler during warmer months, covered in shade cloth, and small containers on top.
This is the bed in mid spring, where it gets more or less full sun. It receives shade from the Japanese maple and from the large oak tree on the nature strip, but the sun is high enough most of the day that it's only dappled shade. In late autumn and winter though the sun is low enough that the bed is almost completely shaded by the hedge. The hedge is a bit leggy though I am working to rejuvenate it, with the caveat that it will reduce the filtered light through it during cooler months. Though there is not much direct sunlight, the ambient light isn't too bad. So although most crops won't thrive they'll certainly get enough light to keep them going. I'm thinking mostly root crops next year so I can harvest as I need them (carrots, parsnips, turnips), established in late summer or autumn.
This is my east facing fence. Towards the house it gets good sun until the late afternoon. But towards the gate it is obviously shaded by the gate and the oak tree. I'm going to put some sleepers against the fence and edging to bring the level up a bit probably late summer when the bed is empty again.
Here's the remainder of the garden. The windows face north, and this is where I have my pots. They get all day sun more or less (near the fence a bit more shaded obviously). The two small raised beds get good sun, the one nearest the house gets essentially all day sun year round. On the west facing fence those bushes has been removed. This area gets sun from late morning and then all afternoon in the warmer months. And the lawn was planted after this. It's only a tiny lawn obviously but it's nice to have a place to work over, rinse things out over and so on.
That's the basic layout of my courtyard garden. I'll go on to what I planted last warm season and this cool season in Part 2.