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.
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.
The stalwarts amongst my readership will recall that I have had a love/hate relationship with my front garden. The lawn has changed its shape a number of times over the years but I still didn’t enjoy being out there. Then back at the start of the year I bit the bullet and decided to get rid of the lawn once and for all and plant up the whole of the front garden.
This is how the front garden looked at the end of January – all very neat and tidy but dull, uninspiring and as some of my regular readers said just not me. So during the course of the first half of the year the lawn was lifted and removed and a curving path put in from the driveway to the side gate. The path is more decorative and to give the front garden some structure rather than for a specific purpose but I have seen it used by a visitor which was very gratifying.
We decided that the path needed a good strong edge as it is the only landscape feature so my eldest kindly put in a brick edge which I am really pleased with. In fact if it wasn’t for him doing the edging and my youngest son lifting the lawn I don’t think I would have got very far with the project at all. In my usual back to front way the path went in after the majority of the plants mainly because I wanted to see where the natural route would fall and also because the plants needed to get in the ground before the summer was over.
The path is finished now and the majority of the planting is done. I need to tweak the asters around a bit as they went in quite small and I had lost their labels years ago so it was a bit hit and miss how it would turn out. I have a darker flowered aster – Symphytrochium novea-angliae ‘St Michaels’- in the back garden which I will divide and add to the new border as I think I need a darker purple to lift the others.
This is the view from the driveway to the front of the house and I love how pretty it looks. These photos were taken at the start of the month and last weekend I lifted all the zinnias. They will be replaced with tulips and maybe some wallflowers. I have also added some snowdrops and small narcissus along the path edges. Next year I suspect I will also add alliums.
So to conclude I am absolutely delighted that I took the plunge and got rid of the lawn. I actually enjoy being in the front garden now, I love looking at it in the morning from my bedroom window – it just makes me smile. In addition it is more wildlife friendly than the previous front garden with lots of bees and other pollinators buzzing around the flowers and more birds fidgeting around the border.