I love my Front Garden at the moment. I love the vibrancy of the acid yellow Euphorbia and the purple honesty. I love the way the breeze, or wind today, moves the Anemanthele lessoniana that I relocated here a few weeks ago bringing movement to this otherwise quite staid border. The Anemanthele has been shoe-horned in amongst the emerging asters in a way that any serious or mildly well informed gardener would blanch at. My excuse, although I don’t really think I need one, is that the asters are making a bid for world domination and they are a complete nightmare to dig out of clay soil. Plus the act of clearing the whole border of the asters would probably leave me in traction. So the answer is to dig out the asters as and where I want to add other plants and to see if the addition of 3 large Anemanthele lessioniana and a rather large Watsonia will be sufficient to break up the monotony of the asters.
Asters monotonous you say? Outrageous! Well they are if only one or possibly two varieties are dominating the rest and when there is little to make the border interesting for the rest of the year. Just clumps of dark green foliage sitting there for months on end. They need friends to bring them joy and enliven them and although I have some Rudbeckias in this border I want more year round interest than just Late Summer. That was the original plan, an ill conceived one in such a small garden. If I had acres to play with having borders that peak at certain times of the year would be lovely but in a small garden every square metre has to work very hard and has to bring me joy.
Yes, I have been watching too much Marie Kondo , and that was before the lockdown so no excuse really, but whilst it can become appear a little OCD and perfectionist there are valuable lessons in her message which I have found quite liberating. It has helped me reorganise and clear out my wardrobes finding clothes I had forgotten about and leaving me loving what is left and also deeply conscious that I really don’t need more clothes (don’t start me on how unsustainable the fashion industry is). When you relate this to the garden, especially when some of your borders are 10 or more years old, you realise that your tastes have changed, plants have outgrown their spot or conversely struggled on their best. So now I don’t compromise so much and if there is a plant which really isn’t working its out and if it is lucky it finds a new home elsewhere in the garden.
The result is borders that are full of reasonably sized plants, planted well in good combination informed by years of mistakes, and which most importantly bring me joy.
I need to learn to love my front garden just a bit more. Its a lot better than it was three or four years ago before I dug up the lawn but the truth is I just walk past it every day and every so often I find myself thinking I need to spend some time tidying up and sorting it out . So today I thought I would include it in the Six on Saturday meme so I would be forced to look at it more.
There are two Grevilleas in the front garden. The Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ has been in the front garden for probably 11 years. I love it, it reminds me of my late sister as I bought it with her. At the moment its about 5 ft high by 5 ft wide and thats after we heavily pruned it last Autumn by about 2ft all over. It has just started flowering and is beloved by the pollinators. The other grevillea is Grevillea victoriae (see top picture). Interestingly, it has broad leaves not the pine like leaves of Canberra Gem and it is only the flower that really, in my opinion, indicates they are the same family. This shrub was added to the garden probably about five years ago and was moved a few times so is now only really begining to establish itself. The shrub is less floriferious than the Canberra Gem, you really have to seek the flowers out, although I am wondering if that will improve with time.
As well as two Grevilleas, there are two Sorbus in the front garden; more of a flux than by design – I just like Sorbus. I planted a Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) when we moved in 15 years ago and a couple of years back added Sorbus pseudohupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’ to add balance in the garden. They form a sort of triangle of trees with a Birch being the third point. I was pleased to see the leaves had reappeared today, as it struggled last year in the drought and was one of the few plants that I consistently ensured had a good watering once a week.
I have a preference for foliage these days over flowers as I think the garden looks better all year round with a good tapestry of interesting foliage and then flowers add interest as they come and go. I’m not the biggest fan of Persicaria as it can be a bit of a thug and attempt to take over a border (been there, done that) but I did succumb to Persicaria nepalenis because of its beautiful leaves. I think the flowers are a pale pink, but as I can’t remember it shows you that the main attraction of this plant is its leaves.
Last week I showed you the swath of Lunaria (Honesty) at the back of the main garden, which self seeds around. From the colouring of the leaves they seem to be a cross between a couple of Lunaria I have grown over the years. In the front garden I am more certain that the Lunaria are self-sown Lunaria ‘Chedglow’ due to the distinctive dark stems and leaves with variegation. This one has placed itself in the gravel path and is thriving.
Finally, I spotted a line of Snakeshead Fritillary growing along the beech hedge. I planted them years back when there was a lawn and I laboured over whether or not the dryness under the hedge would work for them for not. It seems to have worked well, although now it means that the fritillaries are growing at the back of a big border and not really seen so I may have a think about trying to relocate them – or maybe not.
Thanks to the Propagator for hosting this weekly meme which gets me into the garden even when I dont have time to garden but I can find 5 minutes to take some photo and see what is happening, and ponder plans.
Yes, I know it’s Sunday but as ever I have failed to get my act together to do a post on Saturday – it is what it is. In any case Saturday was definitely not a gardening day with extreme winds and rainy showers but this was all right as I went to my monthly Embroiderer’s Guild meeting (yes I have a whole other hobby which is over on my other blog).
Sunday has been a very different day with lovely periods of sunshine although we have a few random hail showers, weirdly at the front of the house and not the back. The above photo is of the front garden – for those new to the blog I dug up the front lawn about 3 years ago and planted up the whole space with a path running through the middle. The area above is the bit nearest the house and last year I had the driveway replaced and the path across the front of the house replaced with block paving; which transformed the front garden.
However, the area of the other side of the path (above) needs more work. When I planted it up it was with a late summer feel with lots of asters but now I feel it needs to have a more year round vibe. The border is quite deep so I think I will add a shrub or two, I have something that needs relocating from the back garden and I will reduce some of the late summer perennials and replace them with early summer perennials.
As the garden was looking so pretty in the Spring sunshine I thought I would show the middle border in the back garden which is filling out. It’s full of Camassias which have established well and bulked up, possibly too much. I’m planning on thinning them out and maybe moving a few to the front garden to give some late Spring interest.
But whilst I was pondering the plans for the front garden I thought I really should finish the dry stone wall I started the other week so at least I felt I had achieved something plus I have a few plants which would benefit from being planted to grow over the wall. As you can see I managed to eek out the stone for the length of the border. It is a little unstable in places and dips occasionally but it is a lot better than before and I am really chuffed with it (I just need the grass path to recover now!)
When I posted at the end of September I included a photo of the front garden, which I rarely post pictures of. One of my readers suggested that I post more often on the front garden as it looks interesting so here you go. It is timely as the planting in the front garden was designed to peak at this time of year.
If you look carefully there is a gravel path in a curve through the garden. It is rarely used as the only place it actually goes is to the side access to the back garden but it does give me access to the planting.
I created the front garden space just over two years ago. It was previously mainly lawn and unloved. So the lawn came up and I planted the space mainly with late summer/early autumn perennials which were being rehoused from the back garden. There are several different asters here as well as rudbeckia and sedum – I’m not sure about the yellow rudbeckia and the red mauve sedums together but it’s a passing phase.
The grasses are Calmagrostis ‘Overdam’. There are is also some Fennel and Euphorbia in the border which give more interest earlier in the year. The structure is provided a Phormium; two Sorbus – one Sorbus aucuparia and Sorbus pseudohupehenis ‘Pink Pagoda; a birch; and two Grevilleas – Canberra Gem and Grevillea victoriae. The space is surrounded by beech and laurel hedges.
So that’s my front garden – hope you enjoyed the whistle top tour
Its been two years, and a couple of weeks, since I, well my youngest son, dug up our front lawn. It was decision I laboured over for more than a year – what would I put in its place? Well plants obviously, but what? What theme would I have? Did I need a focal point? How would I get round the space? On and on the questions went until in April 2016 I concluded that I knew the lawn needed to go and I would just trust my instincts as to what came next.
The decision for how to plant the space was sort of made for me as I wanted to relocate a lot of later summer perennials from the back garden. So a whole host of asters and rudbeckias were relocated along with a group of Calamagrostis ‘Overdam’ which is at its best at the moment with its fresh stripy foliage.
However, there is some early summer colour from various Aquilegia seedlings which have popped up here and there and the acid yellow flowers of Alchemilla mollis are about to erupt creating a vivid stream along the beech hedge.
I had the height of the beech hedge reduced by something like 3 ft last Autumn and it has made such a difference to the balance of the space. I am toying with removing the Laurel hedge at the front but I’m not convinced yet. The Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ has become a bit of a monster. Its well established now and has come through numerous cold winters. I love it firstly because it’s just a strange looking plant, well here in the UK and I like strange, but mostly because I bought it with my late sister; who was thrilled to take me to a nursery she had discovered.
However, the highlight of the front garden this week is the Nectaroscordum siculum which are a real mecca for the bees. I have a host of seedlings which I have been wondering where to plant so I think I will now add them to the front garden to extend the effect.
I need to move a few plants at the end of the season to give them more space but essentially the front garden looks after itself. I do a bit of dead heading to the bulbs and then a big cut down in late Autumn and that’s it.
So to conclude any hesitation I had about digging up the front lawn has long gone.
The front garden is really coming into its own now and delivering the vibrant colours I hoped it would. The tulips are just beginning to go over but I will definitely be adding loads more to the bigger border for next year. I think I will add more oranges, rusts and reds probably including some Tulip Ballerina which have been growing in the front garden for a few years now and come back reliably year on year.
Looking from the upstairs window you can see that the planting is definitely thicker nearer the house than towards the back of the border near the Grevillea. However, there are lots of asters now pushing through the soil as well as some bronze fennel and Miscanthus. I have some Cardoons I might add if there is enough room as well as Rudbeckia and Zinnia seedlings which will add some seasonal bulk while the permanent residents get established.
I am also pleased with the combination of the Honesty flowers and the lime green Euphorbia flowers so I hope to add more Honesty for next spring as well. The whole intention is to have lots of rich bright colours for as much of the year as possible and I think for this part of the year I am starting to achieve it.
The tulips will soon be joined by Irises. It will be interesting to see what colours as I have moved the tubers so much that I don’t know what is what any more. These will then be joined by some Nectaroscodum which will add height but I want to add lots of alliums, the big Allium christophii to add impact.
If you would like to join in with the End of Month View please do. It would be great if you could add a link to your post in the comments below and link to this post in your post. Enjoy.
The front garden is beginning to come into its own with the small narcissus and Euphorbia flowers bringing some real zing to the border. You may recall that last month I said I was thinking of filling the bigger border with small narcissus. Well I am rethinking this as if you look very carefully you will see that the narcissus are all facing away from the house which means I am looking at the back of the flowers. If I fill the big border with narcissus then the only person who might see the flowers properly would be the postman!
I have finally dug over the whole of the front garden and moved the original perennials forward that were being dwarfed by the Grevillea. I have also top dressed the whole space with green waste from the local waste dump.
There isn’t that much to see in the big border at the moment as the perennials and grasses have been cut down and are just leafing up now. I’m thinking that camassias or alliums might look good in this space next year to give interest before the asters come into their own.
Anyway, that’s the front garden at the end of March just under a year since we lifted the front lawn. I’m thrilled with how good the space is already looking and it will be interesting to see how the perennials develop through the year.
All are welcome to join in with the End of Month meme. You can use it how you like all I ask is that you add a link to your post in the comment box below and is possible it would be great if you could link to this post from your post.
I thought I would use my wide-angle lens to give you a better idea of the whole front garden. The photograph is taken from the top of the driveway; the gravel path leads to the side gate as the driveway leads to the front door – if that makes sense. The smaller border near the house is beginning to fill up as the bulbs push their way through the compost. There are numerous daffodil bulbs and over the last week the tulips I planted in the autumn have started to appear.
This is a wide-angle from the side gate. As you can see it is a little shadier at this end of the path due to mine and my neighbour’s houses so I have more shade lovers in this area including ferns.
A closer view of the main part of the garden. I had hoped to have dug all of this over, weeded and mulched by now but my injuries that I mentioned last week have prevented me. However, I did manage an hour this weekend and have mulched the area I have done. The focus of the border is really late Autumn as it is full of asters. I really like the effect of the miniature daffodils so I am thinking that once I have sorted out the perennial planting I will cram this border with lots of bulbs – crocus, miniature daffodils, tulips, and to finish alliums. I need to rejig some of the planting as either the plants have been in a while in the old border and need pulling forward before the Grevillea swamps them or they were planted quickly last summer where a space was available. I am hoping this monthly meme will help be get my eye in and work out the right combinations. Hopefully by the end of March there will be more to see.
All are welcome to join in with the End of Month Meme, you can use it how you wish. I just ask that you link back to this blog and it would be great if you could leave a link to your post in the comment box below so we can all come and have a peek at your plot.
This time last year I started the year’s End of Month meme with a post about the front garden. By the time I had finished writing it I was completely certain that my argument that I had a love/hate relationship with the garden was flawed; I did in fact hate the front garden. Readers were kind with their comments but it was those that extolled me to bite the bullet and just dig up the wretched lawn that really hit home. So I did.
Well my youngest son lifted the lawn over the space of a week in April and then I pondered what to do next. I had a whole collection of asters and grasses from the back garden that needed a home so I bought some fennel to add height and a couple of Euphorbias for substance. Walking back and force it soon became clear where the path should go and my eldest son very kindly, with the odd mutter, laid the brick edging and spread the gravel. We also widened the single width paving slab path along the front of the house which has somehow balanced things better.
In my usual random way I didn’t dig the whole space over and carefully plan things. Instead I spread the asters and grasses out and planted them hoping for the best. The asters had lost their labels (a recurring theme over the last few years) so I wasn’t sure which were the tallest or the tones of purple. Anyway, the first summer was good, not great or amazing, but a decent start for such an unplanned decision. The smaller bed was full of bright red zinnias some 4ft tall; this spring I hope it will be full of tulips and then I intend to repeat the zinna show.
The bigger bed which is essentially most of the front garden needs lots of work. I need to work through it weeding and removing the perennial weeds. I have thought that the space needed a third tree for some years to balance out the other two so back at the beginning of the month I added a Sorbus ‘Pink Pagoda’ and in the process aggravated an old arm injury and so gardening has stopped. Hopefully if the healing continues as it is and the rain stops I might be able to do some weeding next weekend. I think the Euphorbias are too far forward but I can’t for the life of me remember which ones they are but in the back of my mind they are Euphorbia characias which might be too tall but I wanted them to flop over the path.
Anyway, there are lots to do in this area, plants to re-arrange and plants to add so I thought I would share the progress in this year’s End of Month meme.
The meme has been very well supported over the last few years, even when I have been a little lax in supporting it myself so I am hoping that some of my readers will join in again this year. You can use the meme however it suits you – all I ask is that you include a link to my monthly post in your post and a link to your post in the comments box on my post. I think that makes sense and will allow us to find each other.
At this time of year any time snatched in the garden is a welcomed treat. Here in Malvern it has been mild but also very damp with heavy rain on Friday and rain again overnight on Saturday and most of this afternoon.
I have a lot of tidying to do and I am prioritising those parts of the garden where the bulbs will be emerging over the next month or so. I always start with the back slope as I have a lot of Galanthus nivalis planted here, so many that last year I had to divide them and spread some into the adjoining borders. The slope has historically been very shady and so is planted with ferns and epimediums. It’s quite amazing how much debris you can clear away from such a small area by the time you have collected up all the fallen leaves, weeded out various seedlings and cut back the dead fern fronds. Over the last year some Iris foetidissima have self-seeded here which I think I will be removing the next chance I have as I want to add another epimedium. It will be interesting to see how the removal of the boundary trees affects this border and whether my ferns will continue to thrive.
The end of the slope just before the bench has really filled out over the last few years. The Fatsia japonica ‘Spiderweb’ seems to have settled in and has lots of new leaves. The problem I have is how close it is to the fern, whose name I have lost as I was one of my first ferny acquisition, so I am thinking I might have to move the fern but I will think about it for a while.
I also need to move this Adiantum which has been looking very unhappy for the last year. Adjacent to it is Galanthus ‘Galatea’ which should be fully open in the next week if the sun shines.
Also close to opening is Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’ which is growing in a drier border under the Field Maple. I am really pleased with both of these as I took the decision a couple of years ago to risk my special snowdrops in the ground rather than keep them in pots and so far they have rewarded me with reappearing each year and beginning to bulk up.
Due to the rain overnight this morning was very foggy with little sign of the Malvern Hills behind the house. I was torn as yesterday I had finally bought an extra tree for the front garden and I wanted to plant it. I have felt deep down for some years now that the front garden needed a third tree to balance the Silver Birch and Sorbus. It really irritated me over Christmas so yesterday I popped down to the local plant nursery and bought a Sorbus pseudohepehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’. I toyed with another Sorbus vilmorinii like I have in the back garden but it seemed daft to have two the same when there are so many lovely varieties to choose from. This morning, despite the fog I decided to get it planted as I was concerned that next weekend might be much colder and not so conducive to tree planting. I also started weeding the front garden and mulching it. It’s a big job as this is its first winter and there are lots of persistent weeds to deal with. I have some planting I want to do over the coming months so some preparation is needed. Sadly I didn’t get far as the drizzle reappeared and set in for the rest of the day but at last it was a start.