June 3, 2008

A Pretty in Pink Front Yard

Your front yard is the face you present to your neighborhood. Ideally it should be beautiful, tie into the neighborhood, and enhance your home's appearance. Often the front yard is more formal than the back.
A riot of color in the yard draws your eye away from the house, which is good if your house is boring or downright ugly. My home is kind of blah right now, but I'm hoping that it will eventually be lovely (after a few home improvement projects). So I chose a limited color scheme of light pink and white for the flowers in my front yard. I incorporated a lot of dark green leaves as a backdrop for the flowers, with a few variegated plants thrown in for some pizazz.


I inherited a pink dogwood tree from the previous owners, which is nice most of the year and fabulous when it blooms for a few weeks in spring. Eventually I plan to add a couple of 'Shademaster' honey locusts or 'Kwanzan' flowering cherry trees.


For the evergreen backbone of my yard, I chose 'Otto Luyken' laurels and 'Emerald Gaiety' euonymus. The laurels have small white flowers in spring, but their greatest beauty comes from their glossy, dark green leaves that stick around all year.

The euonymus have white and green variegated leaves that take on a pinkish hue in the winter. Thus my color scheme is present all year long! Both shrubs stay fairly small (in the 3 to 5 foot range), which is appropriate for my medium-sized front yard.
The only other shrubs in my front yard are 'Eglantyne' english rose bushes, with light pink old-fashioned blossoms (available at http://www.davidaustinroses.com/).

Unlike the awkwardly upright hybrid tea roses commonly found in gardens, english roses are bred to form a bushy, rounded shape. And once they get started flowering - in June at my house - they keep going until heavy frosts send them into dormancy. Few shrubs offer flowers over such a long period.


I planted a white-flowering 'Clara Mack' wisteria along the porch railing. I also plan to plant a couple of 'Henryi' clematis (white) to grow up the drainspouts.

My love for perennials is always in danger of overwhelming the ordered, restrained look that I'm going for in my front yard. To keep things under control, I limited myself to perennials with tidy shapes, planted them in groups, and repeated them in several places throughout the yard.

Upright perennials: these were placed in the center or back of beds.

I planted the siberian iris 'Rolling Cloud' (white flowers in summer) in several places because I like both the dainty flowers and the upright, spiky clumps of leaves.

I included the bearded irises 'Pink Bubbles' (pink flowers in spring) and 'Immortality' (white flowers in spring and fall) in areas where I could surround their informal, sword-shaped foliage with neat, mound-shaped plants.

I also included 'Casa Blanca' white oriental lilies for their delightful fragrance and beautiful summer flowers.

Mounding perennials: these plants keep things hemmed in around the edges of the beds. The daylilies

'Hush Little Baby' (pink),

'Big Smile' (pink/white),

'Joan Senior' (white),

and 'Jean Swann' (white)

flower at different times through the summer. Their fountain-shaped foliage frames my rose bushes nicely.

'Green Spice' heuchera was included mostly for its silver/green/plum variegated foliage, though the little creamy-white flowers are dainty and nice.

Snowdrop anemones add dark green foliage and elegant white spring flowers in areas where they can get a bit of shade.

White candytuft (Iberis) is smothered with white blooms in spring, then covers the ground with glossy green foliage the rest of the year.

This spring I enjoyed purple crocus (my only break with the color scheme - after a long winter I just needed some color). Also blooming were white 'Mount Hood' daffodils (though they opened pale yellow and took a few days to fade to white), pink hyacinths, 'Upstar' pink tulips, white peony-flowered tulilps, and finally white and green striped 'Deidre' tulips.

The only annuals in my yard are in hanging baskets - pink zonal geraniums and pink/white verbena. I prefer to spend my budget on plants that will come back each year.

Although I'd like to include a lovely picture of my yard, it just isn't possible right now. We just moved in last summer, which isn't much time to put in a landscape. For budget reasons, I planted gallon-sized shrubs; bareroot roses, daylilies, and iris; tiny starts of perennials; and I even grew the candytuft from seed. Needless to say, everything is really small right now. I also planted just one perennial plant in many areas where I eventually want three. After the single plant gets large enough to divide, I'll have my three for the price of one. I expect the yard will look quite nice in about 3 years. In 5 years it should be completely filled in (except the trees will still be small, of course). I'll definitely post a picture. Until then we'll just have to imagine it all . . .


  1. VaLynn,
    I love you blog! Just reading this post gave me a bunch of plants to look for. My yard is a treeless/flowerless wasteland. I am so excited to get things looking pretty. I wish I could twinkle you here for an afternoon at the local nursery. Miss you!

  2. You have a wounderful blog and beautiful gardens. I especaily love the 'Clara Mack' wisteria. I hope you keep us posted on how it does for you. I have wanted a white wisteria for over a year now and have been reluctant to mail order it. I have not found white wisteria at any of the nurseries around me. I wounder if it is hardy here in Chicagoland (zone 5).


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