Tuesday, June 30

And A New Camera Tour of the Front Yard

Lately, my only real chance to enjoy the front yard garden happens as I walk up to the front door after parking my car in the driveway post-work. So it seems fitting that I take you along on that short journey, one that can last as few as 15 steps--or as "many" as 30, if I get distracted by plants along the way!

Before I even get out of the car, I check out this year's version of the Urn Planter:

I tend to gravitate toward hot colors, and this year the urn features a brugmansia (thanks to a cutting from Joe at the CBG glasshouse) that is just now starting to take off. The underplanting includes 'Vancouver Centennial' geranium, a bronze sweet potato vine, purple iresine, golden creeping jenny (not seen--it's spilling out the back) and a 'Tequila Sunrise' callibrachoa that was recently pinched back (hence not in bloom.)

When I first get out of the car, my view of the front yard garden is hidden by the corner of the porch, and the end of a 6ft long stand of bronze fennel:

The contented buzz of parasitic wasps and various bees often greets me here, as they busily flit around the fennel. Lately my eye is drawn toward the newly-planted purple ninebark, which replaced the front-yard focus of my love-hate affections, the doublefile viburnum.

Rounding the corner, I usually look first to see whether the 'Summerwine' achillea is blooming yet. I love the way the feathery yarrow foliage combines with the bergenia, the rock, and the sedums in front of it:

The wispy brown blades in the foreground are carex flagellifera, which I grew last year in my chimney tile planters and then planted out in the fall to see if they might overwinter. One did, but it's not very vigorous... carex buchanii seems to be the sturdier bronze sedge here in my yard.

Taking a long view from this vantage point, you can see that I have a lot of plants crammed into this little garden--which I think of as the "Porch Corner Garden"--along with a trashpicked black milk can that sits in the dry corner:

From top to bottom in the photo above: Northern Sea Oats with a mini-leaf culinary sage and 'Angelina' sedum at its feet, 'Obsidian' (which despises me for putting it in afternoon sun and pays me back by requiring constant deadleafing) and a peach-leaf heuchera whose name escapes me, white-flowering 'Chubby Fingers' sedum album, the yarrow and the bergenia mentioned above, and the silver leaves of Elephant's Ear kalanchoe, a native of Madagascar that reminds me of the glasshouse biome in which I volunteer at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

Turning to my left, I admire the ever-changing "Sharp Corner garden," where tough plants like lavender, sage, sea kale, variegated iris and yucca, and oakleaf hydrangea thrive:

I particularly love the way the wavy sea kale leaves seem to imply movement--they practically dance their way through the other plants:

Real movement does happen here, as well, thanks to the carex buchanii. I think that having the tough, squatty, and seemingly immovable hens and chicks at its feet really highlights the airy nature of the sedge when the wind tosses its blades around carelessly:

There are many colors of sempervivum here, including a pretty one that appears to be covered with spiderwebs of cotton. Some of them have started to bloom, and I can't wait until they become one tight mass of rosettes in this corner.

Picking my eyes up from the hens and chicks, which I always seem to bend down to inspect, I catch sight of the rest of the front sidewalk garden:

My eye travels along the pathway and stops at the Japanese maple, admiring its dark beauty. I sometimes think about how nicely the Spanish foxglove (digitalis parviflora) and bronze sedge pick up the orangey tones in the 'Amber Waves' heuchera at the foot of the maple, or wonder just how many different leaf colors I have crammed into this small space...

I alternately fail to see the empty pots and catmint debris in the scene above, or look at them and think, "Ah, yeah, I need to get that cleaned up," with a quick pang of "What must the neighbors think?!" guilt. But soon my attention is distracted by the nouveau-prairie feel of the 'Hameln' pennisetum, foxglove spires, 'Black & Blue' salvia, and golden oregano:

I have to walk past this section and look past the ninebark to see the recently cutback catmint (a passalong, but probably 'Walker's Low') still blooming away next to the unnamed miscanthus from my aunt's garden:
In front (to my view, anyway) of the miscanthus, a lemon thyme is blooming next to a heuchera that came with the yard. (Three of these heuchera, the Japanese maple, and the rhododendron in the back yard are all that remain of the original landscaping here.)

From here, I sneak a peak over the purple ninebark branches, back at the sea kale corner... and see that from this angle, you don't really notice the spacing between the plants:
No wonder my next-door neighbor said, "Time to tame the jungle?" When she caught me pulling a stray weed in my front yard the other day!!!

She probably isn't amused by the state of my front porch, either, now that I think about it. I do have random bags of potting soil and garden implements strewn about. And a couple of recent trashpicking finds... like this metal chair, which just needs a good wire brushing and a few coats of paint in a funky color to return it to fabulousness:

Oh, and of course, there are the houseplants that are brought out to summer on the porch! The houseplant jungle includes this blooming echeveria, flanked by variegated philodendron, a dark begonia, twisty spider plant, and...

... this pot of a little trailing succulent, which I adore:

On the matching brick column at the top of the stairs is another collection of succulents, including a fun twisted- and yellow-edged snake plant, a trailing lipstick plant, and a variegated agave that's also from Joe at the CBG:

Elsewhere on the porch I have two large planted containers (one with three bromeliads, coleus and Nonstop begonias; the other with black elephant ears, coleus and upright fuchsia), two hanging pots of various mints, a peace lily, a dark-leaf philodendron, aloe, a hanging pot of fuchsia, three orchids, another begonia, Thanksgiving cactus, and a few other random houseplants.

Definitely a jungle... and one in which I want to spend some more time, once this last "busy weekend" of the summer at work is finished!


Stuart said...

Kim, your garden looks so beautiful. It is a treasure-trove of contrasts and I find it hard to focus on just one thing - everything just blends in so well. Thanks for showing us some summer eye-candy!

Sandra said...

That was great. What a wonderful variety of plants, indoors and out. Thanks for sharing.

Gail said...

Love, love , love the whole garden...and the trash picked chair is wonderful...I wonder what funky color you'll paint it! gail

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh my gosh. I am surprised you ever get into the house with that gorgeous garden to have to pass through. I would want to be out there all the time. It is so lush with so many interesting plants to enjoy. Your pickins will be gorgeous when you are finished with them too.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Thanks for the tour around your garden Kim, it looks smashing. Love your plant combinations, they are very, very good. And I don't think you have a jungle on your hands as not having any space between plants means, no space for weeds so it's a very desirable thing to have in the garden. I know I always aim for wall to wall planting. ;-)

Pam/Digging said...

Your neighbor is nuts. That's not a jungle at all. There is plenty of order, and your combos are fantastic. I echo what YE said. You have a beautiful garden.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I'd love to live across the street from you and be able to gaze at your front garden every day. The camera must be working well. I love the photo of the Lavender, Iris, Sea Kale & Carex. You've made me realize that I need to pull a couple of my Little Bluestem seedlings out of the middle of the garden and into an area where their waving stems can be better appreciated. Your garbage finds are great, especially that metal chair. I bet you could make some money with it if you offered it on eBay.

Amy G. said...

Kim, these photos are fabulous and make me want to come and visit! :)

I'm hoping someday that my gardens will be half as gorgeous and interesting as yours. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Stuart! I am always afraid it's "too much" contrast to allow anyone to focus, so I'm working on adding some "white space" in the form of uninterrupted groundcovers, too.

Sande, thank you and welcome to my blog! I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. :)

Gail, I don't even know yet! This is going to sound kind of crazy, but with those little sunshiney details/cutouts, I'm thinking about an orange or gold right now... hmm...

Greenbow Lisa, it's more like, "I'm surprised that I ever get into the house with all that mess on the front porch!" ;) LOL. I DO like being out there, but the back yard garden is so much more private that it tends to be my usual refuge.

Yolanda Elizabet, thank you for the compliments! And good point about the weeds... a lot of the "spaces between" are taken up by groundcovers, and the golden oregano is particularly tall right now so it does look a little crowded at this stage. I LIKE the idea of "wall to wall planting" for sure!

Pam/Digging, thank you. :) I guess it's more like "organized chaos," which is what I try to achieve in the house, too... lol.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, that would be great--I'd love to be able to view your gorgeous garden across the street, too!

And did you say bluestem SEEDLINGS?! I'm turning green with envy here... I wish that mine would have some babies! *pouting*

Amy, thanks... but your garden is already gorgeous, based on the photos you show on your blog! That said, if you're ever in the Cleveland area, you're welcome to let me know and stop by--provided you promise to ignore all of the weeds and half-finished projects, of course! ;)

LisaBee said...

Wow, I haven't clicked over here in a while, I guess, and things are looking great in your yard.
I'm especially interested in your unusual foxgloves....
Anyways, congrats!

Michigan Garden Muse said...

Congratulations on a super healthy, runaway garden this summer. What amazes me most is the 6-foot! fennel. Though your garden is only a few hours south of mine, it must be lots warmer -- my fennel is lucky to reach 3 feet in height by fall. Thank you for the very enjoyable photo tour, maybe you could do the same for the back garden?

Heather's Garden said...

LOVE that container at the beginning of your post. And pretty much everything else thereafter (I might love the chair after some TLC). So glad you're posting regularly again!

Unknown said...

Thanks, LisaBee! Those foxgloves are ones that I found here locally at a garden center that used to specialize in unusual perennials like those. They're very hardy and true perennials (not biennials) which is why I like them so much--well, that and the unusual color, and that they're pretty drought tolerant! The only negative is that the flowers themselves are so small.

Michigan Garden Muse, I think that this is a "big" year for the fennel--the bronze fennel usually only gets about 4-1/2ft tall here in my garden! But I went out after reading your comment to double-check, and it is indeed about 4 inches over my head in the highest spot. Crazy!

And I will do the same for the backyard garden... but not until after I get through a little more planting, weeding, and general cleanup. :)

Heather, thanks... and I think that I'll really love the chair after it gets a cleanup and paint job, too! Right now, it IS a little less than impressive, I know. *grin*

Carol Michel said...

Beautiful gardens. Your neighbors are probably quite envious! Just ignore them if they make snide remarks about jungles.

EAL said...

Fabulous! You have so much going on and it's all so interestingly combined. I wonder what your neighbor has, that he/she would make that comment.

I love it.

Stratoz said...

wow ;')

vermontflowerfarm@outlook.com said...

HI Kim;

I really like the pictures of the work you have done on your gardens. Our urns look terrible this year because it hasn't stopped raining since spring. I always liked the potato vine you mention, especially the yellow one, but I could never figure out how to keep the flea beetles from drilling holes everywhere.

You mentioned viburnums but they are history with us. There is a viburnum beetle here that destroys them in one year. Although many nurseries still carry them, the better places either won't sell them or have given up on them.

You mention fennel which is another nice plant for butterflies and also for the hover fly. I plant a lot of dill as it is a place for the hovers to lay eggs. They are aphid eaters and during a year of rain like this, bugs, often the least desireable ones, are plentiful.

Good gardening wishes!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm

Sylvana said...

I love the sea kale and that heuchera that came with the house. I wouldn't mind having you for a neighbor. My neighbor's front yard garden is huge weedy, jungly mess -- yours is nothing like hers!

Shady Gardener said...

What a wonderful front yard you have!!! It's just amazing. I love the chair you've found. I hope you show it off when you finish with it. (Anything that good looking has to be comfortable!) ;-) Thanks for the great look at your yard.

growingagardenindavis said...

I love the walk through your garden...and the added benefit of seeing it through your eyes as well as my own. I'm with you on the "lots going on" idea...I like how you make it work.

Anonymous said...

I cant remember how I stumbled across your blog, but as soon as i saw your photos I was transfixed. Beautiful - such sensitive and informed planting takes care and real understanding, yet somehow you make a space thats also relaxed and full of joy and energy. Thanks for inspiring me. (Im a garden designer in the UK, have spent the last week crunching out a large planting plan to a tight deadline - so good to see the art in it again!)

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