End of Month View – April 2013


I have to admit that I am actually pleased with the front garden – something I am very surprised to be typing as the front garden has challenged me for years.  I worked very hard at the weekend completing the plant moves I had been thinking about all winter.

The variegated Portuguese Laurel was planted in the far right hand corner a couple of weeks ago.  I have now added a Cistus in front of it which I have grown from a cutting over the last few years.  It has white flowers with red centres and the plant is that the colouring will pick up on the Laurel, Grevillea and Birch.  So there is a plan and a lot of thinking has gone in to it.  I also wanted to have more substance at the very front of the garden as I am toying with removing the Laurel hedge as it has never looked very healthy so I am trying to create more of a buffer/screen with shrubs.

2013_04280019 logo

It is difficult to see but this is the view I started the year with so I am trying to stick to it.  You will see some yellow blobs at the far end and this is a row of small narcissus amongst the descampsia which I am pleased with and will add to this autumn.  I have also planted out some Francoa and some Echinops ritro which I had lurking on the patio.  I am hoping with  fairly limited range of plants and with quantity they will eventually have an impact.  I have focussed on the foliage more than the flowers, the Francoa has reddish green leaves which again pick up on the Cistus and Grevillea and the Echinops will hopefully link with the Phlomis russelina I planted last month and the Birch.


I also removed the mother plant Cistus which was under the living room window.  I had intended to use that for the front of the garden but it was just so big and had really got to the point of no return it had to go.  In fact when I went to dig it out, it fell to pieces it had got so brittle.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time clearing the corner above which is to the right of you as you look at the top photos ( to the photographers right).  I had planted some Euphorbia griffithii ‘Dixter’ in this corner – just the one small plant and I am never ever going to plant it again.  It was a nightmare, the plant sends out runners and the one plant had swamped the whole corner, it was like trying to dig up an octupus.  Some of the roots just went straight down and I gave up trying to find the bottom as the corner was beginning to resemble the Somme.  No doubt it will show its face again at some point and then I’m afraid the weed killer will come out.  I ended up with a huge trug of the stuff which has gone to the refuse dump – I am convinced that at some point in the future this plant will be spoken about like Japanese Knotweed!!  Having tackled the evil Euphorbia I moved a Sarcococca from the back garden to this spot.  It had outgrown its place and I think it will provide a good contrast the bamboo,  something solid at the base.  I also added a couple of Japanese Anemones to add height and light later in the year.


You will see in the top two photos that there is a mass of plants to the left of the lawn and these are Tulip Ballerina which I am hoping will naturalize.  I need to balance it with something along the line of the Beech hedge.  There are Bergenia here and Alchemilla mollis but I decided not to plant tulips as I was worried about the damp; this winter there were real puddles of water in the border.  However, I am now very conscious that there is a lack of balance so I might try some Tulip bulbs since I think the orange of the flowers will work well with the Beech.

I have tried very hard to think about the planting with more of a design focus in the front garden which has been a real departure for me and caused a lot of head scratching.  I am really happy with the results but still need to square off the lawn near the house, tidy up the border nearest the driveway to link it into the scheme and finally to add some red irises to the far end.

So that’s my front garden at the end of April, I expect the tulips will be over before the end of May so I might bore you with another photo of the front garden during May.

If you would like to join in the End of Month meme you are very welcome to just add a link to your post in the comment box and it would be great if you could link to this post in your post so everyone can find everyone else if you know what I mean!!

34 Comments Add yours

  1. Looks super. All that hard work is definitely paying off.

  2. Anna says:

    You must be so pleased with your progress Helen. The euphorbia sounds like a nightmare – those sorts of plants always come back to haunt you even when you are convinced that the very last tentacle has been exterminated. The unopened ‘Ballerina’ flowers have a beautiful bronzey tinge and having a beech hedge, I can imagine how well they will compliment each other. My end of month view post is now up at :
    Thanks as always for hosting 🙂

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      I do think the Ballerina will work well with the beech hedge I’m just not sure how they will fair with the damp we get in winter, but its worth a go.

  3. Lea says:

    I love tulips, but they don’t grow well for me. The bulbs either rot during the winter from too much rain or something eats them. Hope yours do well for you.
    Thanks for hosting this very enjoyable meme!
    Here is my End of Month View
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea’s Menagerie
    Mississippi, USA

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Lea
      Have you tried growing tulips in plastic pots which you could then sink into the border as and where you want?

    2. Lea says:

      Putting the tulips in pots in the ground sounds like a wonderful idea!
      Thank you for suggesting it!
      Lea’s Menagerie

  4. Pauline says:

    What a difference you have made to your front garden, it looks really lovely and all your plans are coming to fruition, you must be very pleased. Sorry I can’t join in with you this month, too busy sorting out holiday photos, will try and remember for next month.

  5. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Not sure which euphorbia is such a pest! We probably have it here!! Bamboo is mostly a no no here – definitely only plant the clumping kind. Some real nightmares were created in the 70’s or 80’s here with bamboo and extremely hard to get rid of. Big shelter belts here at Omaha are useful tho’ 10metres or so tall. NOT for small gardens. Still 25degrees here, but down south island colder.

  6. Annette says:

    Ups, I had to smile, Helen, when I came to the point where you compare the beautiful Euphorbia griffithii with Japanese knotweed…I love this perennial very much and although it runs it never was a problem in my garden (as yet ;)). Tulipa “Ballerina” is one of the best and has stayed with me over many years. They don’t seed but accumulates plenty of babies around the mother bulb. The flowers last for ages – definitely one of my favourites!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Annette – I am hoping that my Ballerina tulips will have lots of babies and make a fab show

  7. Your front garden is such a beautifully defined space. Congratulations on the success of all your hard work!

  8. Hi Helen, Your front garden is looking really good, what a lovely welcoming sight not only for visitors but for you to come home to. This is my EOMV http://wp.me/p1jkAI-2eu As you will see my euphorbia griffithii struggles each year, which must be to do with the soil and its position.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Ronnie
      I wish my euphorbia had struggled, the soil has lots of clay in it so very fertile and very shady – obviously what they love!!

  9. hillwards says:

    It’s looking very smart, and full of promise!
    I had no idea that Euphorbia griffithii could be so rampant – having fairly recently planted out a ‘Fireglow’ that my Mum gave me last autumn. Now I look on the RHS site and read “can be invasive on light soils”. Hopefully our heavy clay will keep it in check rather more…

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Sara
      I wouldnt bank on your clay soil keeping it in check, I have clay soil!!!!

  10. Wow, you have accomplished a lot of work and it shows! Recent changes in my garden are all thanks to Mother Nature, as you can see at http://marianstclair.wordpress.com.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Marian
      Thanks, it makes a nice change to see your hard work resulting in something, normally I can just see what more I need to do

  11. Cathy says:

    I love the EOMVs Helen – not only seeing the progress of other people’s gardens but giving me the discipline to record mine for future reference. We can learn such a lot this way, more readily seeing what is working and what isn’t, as well as mulling over ideas in our posts. I’m sure we are all picking up ideas of what to try and what not to try in our gardens as well, so thanks for hosting. Your front garden is progressing nicely, and those Tulip Ballerina are looking lovely in bud and I hope you will show us a picture when they are fully open. My EOMV is at:

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      I know what you mean, I love having a nose around others gardens too

  12. Skeeter says:

    All of the thought you put into this one has paid off, as it looks wonderful. I am finding myself with regret on root running plants such as the Trumpet Vine. It pops up many feet away from the mother plant into an entirely different garden. It may have to be removed at some point as well so I understand your issues with Dixter….

  13. alison rayner says:

    You have worked so hard and I admire your tenacity until the job is done. The front garden is looking so good now and I’ll be following its further progress. Ooops, I’ve just bought a couple of Euphorbia but hopefully not the thuggish kind that you’ve had to contend with.

  14. Jane Scorer says:

    Love Euphorbia but some are a little ‘thuggish’ ! There is a subtle tipping point between a vigorous ‘good doer’ and a thug ! I spose that point is different for us all?

    My ‘End of the month view’ is coming tomorrow and will be at :


  15. Alison says:

    The garden is looking really good, you can see how how much work has been put into it. The euphorbia sounds a real pain and of course I have just planted one! Now I shall have to watch it carefully.

    My EoMR is here: http://www.blackberrygarden.co.uk/2013/04/end-of-month-review-april-2013.html

  16. djdfr says:

    It looks great!

  17. Holleygarden says:

    I was shocked this morning when I realized it was the end of the month! My, how time flies! I’m so glad you’re pleased with your front garden. All that planning has paid off, and you are so smart to think of foliage colors in your design. I imagine you will love this area for many years to come. I’m joining in with my post here:

  18. Goodness, I am definitely steering clear of that euphorbia! Your thinking really shows Helen, the garden is looking good, it is really coming together, and I like the way you are picking up and repeating colours around the borders. All that thinking about structure and foliage is paying off, which is reassuring since it is what I am trying to do in my own front garden. ‘Ballerina’ i smy favourite tulip, and it was happy in the heavy soil by my pond in my old garden, though not as shaded as by your hedge. Has to be worth a go, the combination would be lovely. My EOMV post is now up, thanks again for hosting, such a great meme.

  19. You have every reason to be pleased with your front yard, it looks great! I wish you look battling the evil Euphorbia. In my experience, you just need to be more tenacious than the weed. Here is my EOMV: http://www.gardeninacity.wordpress.com

  20. Your front garden looks lovely. I can see why you would be pleased with it. It has a nice design that is so pleasing. Your hard work has paid off very well. Thank you for hosting. http://www.thesagebutterfly.blogspot.com/2013/05/my-garden-notebook-may-2013.html

  21. pbmgarden says:

    Helen, it’s fun to watch your progress and learn about your plans. Thanks you for hosting. My garden is coming to life despite cooler than usual spring temperatures. https://pbmgarden.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/meditation-garden-on-a-rainy-day/

  22. igardendaily says:

    Hi there! I’ve just discovered you via Holleygarden. As a first impression, I think your front garden looks very nice. It sounds as if you’ve had some trials and tribulations with it and with some plants as we all do at times. I would love to see a picture of those tulips in bloom and of the tree as it leaves out. I think it is always good to have a little discipline when planting, it is hard, so hard but many times the results are better! I’m joining your end of the month round up with my post: http://igardendaily.com/2013/04/29/a-difficult-start-but-plants-gardeners-dont-give-in-easily/

  23. Angie says:

    You can come and have a go at my front garden if you ever get bored! I’ve been putting it off for years. I just have no inspiration as far as it’s concerned!
    Did you consider sinking your tulips in pots and lifting out for winter and the wet. I know you said you want them to naturalise but at least that way you can have them without fear of loosing them.
    I didn’t realise you hosted this meme until I read another blog. So thank you and I’m now going back to credit you in my blog.

    1. Angie says:

      Helen – having re read the comments above more thoroughly, I noticed you suggested sinking the tulips to Lea – doh!! That’ll teach me 😉

  24. Can’t wait to see more of the tulips that I love but I can’t really grow here…that front garden is wonderful Helen…I am late with my End of the Month View but here it is:


Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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