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!