Saturday, October 27

New Front Yard Garden

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!


Entangled said...

Gardener's Glasses, I like that ;-) I have several pairs.

Your new front bed looks great already, but I couldn't help noticing your Halloween decorations. Those skeletons look very realistic! Maybe they'll keep the Trick-or-Treaters from trampling the new plants.

Carol Michel said...

You did all that for a hundred bucks (give or take)? That's incredible. Remember the old adage... first year they sleep, then they creep, then they leap. Don't let yourself move anything for at least 3 years. We'll all be watching and waiting for picture as your new garden settles in and matures. Good job!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

J.P. said...

The front bed in my last house was completely lawnl-ess and I love the look, especially since the huge Maple could drop its leaves in the fall and they became mulch. No raking to do.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Good Job!!! Looking at this project with any type of glasses is easy on the eyes.

I am with you in purchasing small starts such as the Euphorbias. They seem to settle in so much faster than the larger starts.

I will be interested in watching how your Caryopteris settles in. I have has such poor luck with these plants. I think they are just gorgeous during late summer when they bloom.

Anonymous said...


It looks great already, no glasses needed! You have an eye for texture and combinations and this can only look even better as time passes. Love it! That is the kind of back ache that comes with satisfaction isn't it? I love your lions and Halloween accessories.

Kerri said...

A job well done and well thought out Kim. It looks great! I know that feeling of standing, looking and wondering...and wasting time :)
You really kept the cost down amazingly too. Great job! It'll be fun to see your garden next spring, and watch how the plants fill in.
I hope your hand is better by now and that you're being careful about taking pictures while walking the dog :) Nice photo of the pooch though :)

Melissa said...

It looks wonderful - I can't wait to watch it fill out.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I always admire people who have the discipline to plan plant combinations in advance & plant everything out at once. So far it looks great!

Unknown said...

Entangled, I have several pairs, too--sometimes, I find I need to wear them all at the same time! lol. Thanks for the compliments on the Halloween decor... that's all Brian. He's a Halloween nut. :)

I doubt that they will keep the kids from trampling the garden, though. In previous years even parents came tromping through, much to my dismay. We have plans to erect a very temporary (and spooky) chain-and-web fence on the side where the neighbor's driveway is to keep the worst offenders on the sidewalk.

Carol, thanks! And yes, it was $102 plus tax (I checked my receipts this morning) so I'm pretty happy with that. Now, if you all hear me talking about moving any of these plants around, you yell at me, okay?! lol.

Oooh... j.p., that sounds lovely. Were the maple leaves that great dark red? I wish the basswood tree in my treelawn produced prettier leaf litter... although frankly I think I probably dealt it a death blow this weekend, anyway, with as many roots as I dug through. Thanks so much for visiting.

lisa at greenbow, thanks! I really like smaller plants, too, for much the same reason. I just usually like to plant smaller in the spring so I can fill in around the little plants with annuals to hide the bareness. :)

I'll keep you updated on the caryopteris. I'm fairly confident that it will work here, though, as one of my neighbors with similarly well-drained soil has a couple that are thriving in her East-facing front yard and mine will get a bit more sun than hers even.

layanee, awww... thanks for the compliment. (I'm blushing.) And yes, it was a rather satisfying kind of backache. lol.

Thanks, Kerri! And yes, I am definitely being more cautious when walking with the pooch--no more rock climbing for us. :) The hand is healing slowly--well, the fingers are actually healing well, but the thumb is healing slowly because the wounds are on the joints. Ah well.

me, thank you! :)

mr mcgregor's daughter, thanks! By the way, I admire those people, too. lol. Seriously, I get close (I at least know what I'm putting in a general area, most of the time) but I still do so much rearranging within that area that I don't feel like much of a planner.

Annabelle said...

You must be very patient person and I think it’s really cool how you can see what your garden will be like in three years. I like the lions and skeletons on the steps – they aren’t real bones are they?

verobirdie said...

I thought all gardeners were born with those gardener's glasses... I have some anyway.
Your front yard is already looking good and will be a delight in a couple of years.

growingagardenindavis said...

Your new garden looks so much more expansive than the lawn version...a nice side benefit for those of us with small yards! and what a great combination of plants! I'm off to look up amsonia...don't know what that is!

Annie in Austin said...

It's looking good, Kim! Small plants can catch up with bigger ones in a year or two - by then you''ll know what to do with the front edge - leaving the grass strip as a place-marker was probably a very good idea, allowing you to observe and evaluate each step in turn.

I'm trying to get an idea of the size of the space - is it about 30 feet across the width from edge to edge? And maybe 20-24 deep from front sidewalk to housewalk?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Priscilla George said...

Thank you for visiting my blog blackswamp_girl. I like how your front yard is coming along. I'm sure it is worth waiting through all the sales to save money on plants. Hope they all make it and create the garden of your dreams

Anonymous said...

It looks great, Kim! I love those yellows like the Golden Sword yucca paired with purples like the Salvia lyrata. And broad-leaved yuccas paired with fine textures look great no matter what color. Great combinations.

Unknown said...

Jane, I must admit... sometimes what I "see" in my mind isn't what the garden turns out to be. But for every bad surprise there seems to be a good one as well. :) (And no, the bones aren't real!)

verobirdie, I don't really know that I'm a "born gardener" but I envy those of you who have had the glasses all your lives. :) Thanks for the compliment--I hope it does look good in a couple of years!

leslie, that's true! I never thought of that, but it DOES look like there is way more "to" my yard now that it is planting instead of grass. I love that idea. (Amsonia's big selling point for mer is its fall color. a. hubrichtii is a feathery plant that turns acid yelow, and this a. tabernaemontana is aka willow-leaf amsonia because of its wider leaf shape, but it is supposed to have good fall color, too.)

Annie, I couldn't get the end of the tape measure to stay in the one corner of the yard and nobody else is here to assist me, so I had to mark it off by steps instead. (The only good scale drawing I have of this is in my computer at work where I have a vector art program.)

By this admittedly inaccurate method, here are the specs: Approx. 25ft. from my neighbor's lot line to my driveway. (I have another 3ft. on the other side of the driveway as well.) From the public sidewalk up to "my" sidewalk, it's approx. 15ft. There is another approx. 8ft from the front edge of my sidwalk up to the edge of the porch. (Within that additional 8ft, much of it is sidewalk, steps, brick railings, and lions. If you're looking at the first picture of this post, the Japanese maple is within this 8ft--if my sidewalk didn't turn to go up the steps, you would run right into the maple.)

That's as good as I can do for now, but tomorrow when Brian's around I'll do some real measurements... if for no other reason than to gauge how accurate my feet are! lol.

vanillalotus, thank you! It was worth waiting on the sales... I admit that I was "stalking" a few things, like the euphorbia, for a while. That said, I must admit that I'm not immune to impulse buys at the garden center, either. *grin*

Unknown said...

pam/digging, thanks! I admit that I struggled a big with what to do around the 'Golden Sword' because of both the color and the shape. I actually thought about what you had around your agaves, believe it or not! I was going to move some fine-textured grasses over near it, but since it's gold I was afraid their yellowy fall color would not work well there.

Unknown said...

Kim, I'm amazed at how fast you got that done. But I'm NOT amazed at how wonderful it looks. We have some similar tastes in plants, too, but we knew that from other postings. I have that salvia, the euphorbia, and Petit bleu caryopteris...all doing very well in their first season. Now I want to know more about Japanese Holly...
I hope you had a nice hot bath and something delicious after all that hard work.

lisa said...

Heh...I ALWAYS have my gardener's glasses on! Here's what I would do with that leftover grass area: repeat the brick from the porch in a 2-4 brick-high wall to lend a layered look, with something cool (knowing you) planted along the front of it. Just my humble 2 cents :) Terrific composition of plants, BTW...digging that yucca especially!

Philosophical Karen said...

The landscapers planted a yucca on my front near the sidewalk (it's apparently a common landscape design "trick"). I am wanting desperately to get rid of it, but it has other ideas and keeps growing back.

I also planted a few of the 'Golden Sword' yucca in the backyard before I decided I wanted to concentrate on only "woodland" type plants, but again, trying to remove them has been fruitless.

So what I'm saying in my long-winded way is that you had better love that yucca and you had better love where it's planted, because it will be with you forever once it gets established. :-)

Annie in Austin said...

Thanks for the dimensions along with apologies for making you do homework, Kim ;-]

I think Leslie is right - the front looks more expansive with layers of plants of varied heights than it did with a level plane of grass.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Connie said...

Your new garden is going to be awesome! Look forward to more pictures as it grows.

Unknown said...

Jodi, I have a different salvia lyrata that I love--I've had it for 2 years now, and although someone (either Anthony or Ki, I think) mentioned that it can be a bad self-seeder I've not noticed that. And I'm not good at deadheading it! The Japanese holly (ilex crenata) sold me after 'Sky Pencil' took to my garden without much fuss. I love that it looks like boxwood but doesn't have that smell.

lisa, I actually have thought about recycling some of the landscaping block that I have leftover from when I ripped out the original front beds and doing something similar with it! The only thing that worries me is that I have seen some of the neighborhood kids using the berm she has next door as a bike/skateboard ramp. (If they land in her grass, no big deal. If they land in my garden... grr!) So if it's going to be a brick wall, it will have to be too short to be very enticing. lol.

Karen, I am pretty sure that I want that yucca there... I have heard similar comments about yuccas so I have thought long and hard about having it at all, much less where to put it. The neighbor has a clump of yucca just off my driveway on the other side, so it ties things in a bit.

The 'Golden Sword' yucca is kind of a cutesy thing, I admit. My boyfriend is a fencing coach, and he fenced for (and won a national championship in fencing with) Notre Dame--the Golden Domers. So even if this yard goes back to grass someday, I don't mind that this yucca stays. :)

By the way, what is the "landscaping trick" to putting a yucca there? Just that it's tough and will withstand the occasional car tire and/or peeing canine--or a more aesthetic reason?

Annie, I like homework! And I really should know these dimensions off the top of my head. I rely too much on my Illustrator file for planning, where 1cm=1ft and everything (perennials, shrubs, etc.) is on its own layer. :)

I like expansive. I hope it doesn't look too busy--I know it looks a bit busy now, but once those hollies grow together and the groundcovers knit areas together I think it will be okay.

Thanks, Connie! I'm sure that I'll be showing more pictures soon--I just hope I can hold off on moving things long enough to let them all grow. *grin*

Kylee Baumle said...

Lookin' good there, Kim! I hope to see it in person next summer! :-)

I can't believe you;ve got that yucca! I almost bought one when we were in Cleveland. It was just one thing I came home without that I wished I'd bought. I've never seen the gold ones here. We have several of the green ones, in fact, they were already here when we moved here. And yep, once you've got a yucca, you've always got a yucca (then two, then three, and so on...). Darn near impossible to kill or dig out. That's okay. I like them.

Tina said...

as always, good job! It looks so fabulous already, but I really can envision how grand it's going to be when it fills in. Now, no more smashing up of the hands because it probably won't feel too good when you have those patties slapped for digging things up! lol.

Honestly, if everyone had your kind of natural garden design vision, imagine how beautiful the world would be!

Anonymous said...

I think it looks great - and just in time for the shivering temps! We're now entering the best gardening season down here - late fall and winter - for moving stuff around here. When I figure out where the new house will go, I think a huge stretch of my perennial border will need to be shifted - so I'll spend alot of time with a good shovel (and beer, perhaps there should be beer?).

I love that Salvia lyrata 'Purple Volcano' - it's one that's not in my garden, but I do need to remember it - how gorgeous.

Stay warm.

David (Snappy) said...

Fantastic!I love your post, especially the Gardeners glasses.I have lots of those to see beyond what is in front of me, and to what might be if all the plants grow well. Thats about £75 you spent so not too bad.
All my excess money will be going into plants and garden things!The enjoyment you can get is priceless Kim!

Ki said...

You are my kind of shopper. Those fall clearance sales are really great aren't they? Can't wait to see the garden next year when the plants fill out.

Unknown said...

Kylee, if my golden yucca ever gets "pups," you're welcome to one! I actually had mine long before we went to Petitti's, but I did get it at a Petitti's. And yes, you definitely should see my garden in person next year. :)

tina, thanks--and you're so right about protecting my hands. I have discovered over the past week just how many times you hit certain parts of your hands (the parts I wounded, lol) in the course of a day. Yeouch!

pam, I think that there definitely should be a beer. Or maybe a good glass of wine. Maybe more toward the end of the work--depends on how hot it is, and how strong the beer--than during it, though. *grin*

snappy, does this mean you got the house? YAY! (I'm still keeping my fingers crossed, just in case.) With your brown thumb and your way with seeds, you'll have full gardens in no time. :)

ki, those fall clearance sales really are great when you know what you want and find it there! Kind of makes up for the splurges I made on red cordyline, cerveza 'n lime plectranthus, etc. *grin*

David said...

I think it's awesome that you dug up the WHOLE front yard to do this! Definitely "walking the walk." That is what I aspire to! Way to go!!!

kris said...

Oh, I like it very much! You have a really good design eye, and this already looks pleasing and well thought out. It'll be fun to watch it mature - even if you move stuff around as it does that! :)

Rosemarie said...

I like the way it looks -- and I haven't heard of any of those plants so I'll be so interested to see it next summer and how it's growing.

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