Late this afternoon, a brief respite between raindrops allowed me to sneak out and take photographs of the new front yard garden. Gardeners' Glasses (similar to rose-colored glasses, these help you to "see" the finished, filled-out garden instead of the new planting presented in these photos) will help make it all look better, so please put them on before scrolling down further!
It wasn't until I sat down to post tonight that I realized I hadn't captured the full front yard in its entirety. In this first picture you can see almost 2/3 of the new bed, tucked in with a layer of Sweet Peet organic mulch.
Notice the 18in strip of grass that still remains by the sidewalk? My front yard slopes a bit from where the new bed begins to the sidewalk, and so I wanted to leave some of the grass to help retain the slope until the new plantings become well established. I'm toying with a couple of ideas for finishing off this front edge next fall, but want to wait until the plants fill out a bit and I can really see what might work best aesthetically.
Here is part of the bed that you can't see in the picture above. In this corner, a grouping of Japanese holly will form a sort of hedge in the corner of the bed. I planted them close enough together that they will eventually look like one undulating mass of plant--think of the old, rounded yew hedges in old English gardens here--but the fine texture of the foliage should keep them from looking too "heavy."
One of the hollies was even more root bound than the rest, however, and it started to die on me a couple of weeks before planting. I did some emergency root pruning and planted it in the back yard to let it recuperate and enjoy some TLC. If it recovers, it will go in the open space you see behind the two hollies in the picture... if it doesn't, I'll be taking advantage of the plant guarantee at one of my favorite nurseries and getting a new one this spring.
So what all ended up going into this new garden, anyway? The new plants are:
(4) 'Efanthia' euphorbia
(1) 'Golden Sword' yucca
(3) 'Purple volcano' salvia lyrata
(3) 'Blue Ice' amsonia
(2) 'Petit Bleu' caryopteris
(1) 'First Choice' caryopteris
(4) 'Green Lustre' Japanese holly
(1) 'Hoogendorn' Japanese holly
These were supplemented with bergenia and Spanish foxglove to add evergreen foliage near the caryopteris, and 'Fuldaglut' sedum to underplant the yucca. (The silver culinary sage, which looks like it is part of the new bed, was actually the front corner of the old bed where it curved down to meet the driveway.)
Oh, and remember how I mentioned rearranging the plants multiple times before actually getting them into the ground? My first thought was to intersperse the evergreen plants with those that would die back in the winter. I thought I had everything set when I remembered that the amsonia are supposed to turn bright yellow in the fall... so I definitely had to move them away from the yucca. I was afraid that either the yellows would clash or that all bright color concentrated in one area would make a visual black hole there, sucking away interest from the rest of the garden.
Altogether I would say that I spent about $100 on this bed expansion, not counting the mulch. (I had that on hand because I overbought in the spring.) Not too bad considering the total includes (8) new shrubs and a fancy yucca that came in a 5 gallon pot. That I bought everything on fall clearance, and that the perennials were purchased in the smallest sizes possible, helped. In the last picture you can see how tiny the euphorbias are, for example--their tidy little buns of foliage didn't really even clear the edges of their 1 gallon pots.
So there it is, my new, relatively low-maintenance front yard garden. I hope that in 3 years or so, when the shrubs all get a little bigger and the groundcovers carpet the soil below them, it looks like the garden I am seeing through my Gardener's Glasses right now. Of course, that would mean that I would have to actually not move any of these plants out of their current homes. I'm notorious for doing just that, so... well, we'll see how it goes!