May 14, 2012

Wide Views of the Front Garden

The challenge with front gardens is that they're on display before they're finished. Two years after our front yard renovation, the garden is looking much better but is still a work in progress. Really, I tell people, it's going to look Much Better when the trees and shrubs fill in.

The two 'Kwanzan' flowering cherry trees were both dying (grrr) and were replaced this month with two 'Heartthrob' Korean dogwood trees. You can see the one on the east of the driveway in the photo above. You can also see the ugly utility boxes, unfortunately. Hopefully the dogwoods will be able to handle the late spring and early fall frosts that we get here at the bottom of the valley. Speaking of which, it frosted last week (mid-May!) and turned my 'Miss Feya' lilies to brown mush. But that's another story.

After a few years of watching and tweaking, this year that there have been at least a couple of things blooming together in a continual stream of coordinated color ever since the first crocuses flowered in late February. The hyacinths and tulips shown above are done flowering now, but the 'Emerald Cushion Blue' creeping phlox and sky blue dwarf irises are blooming together this week.

There is still a lot of creeping phlox in the front yard, even after sharing big clumps with several friends (in total, 10 friends came to get plant divisions this spring at my invitation). On the left of the photo above, you can see the lone surviving 'Kwanzan' cherry. I'm not sure if this one has survived because it isn't grafted or because it's in a more protected spot.

'Tete a Tete' mini daffodils were the darling of the spring garden this year. Softer yellow 'Jaap Groot' tulips are growing in the background. Both of these bulbs are good perennializers, so hopefully they'll be back for many springs to come.

At this time of year there is still a lot of bare ground showing. It would look better if we'd already spread more bark, but that hasn't happened yet this spring. Soon the daylilies and catmint will spread their leaves wide enough to fill in this view.

If only the 'Blue Star' junipers (one shown above) and 'Otto Luyken' laurels would mature as quickly. It will take a few more years for that. The 'Green Tower' boxwood in the picture above has shed its wan winter coloring and is looking vibrant green again.

One of the things I love about the new dogwoods is the way this one hides the bank of mailboxes when I look out the front window. Since dogwoods grow slowly around here, I splurged to get large trees. Now I'm a bit nervous about keeping them healthy and happy while they establish new roots. Wish me luck.

In this shot you can see the reddish leaves of three 'Eglantyne' roses that were planted close together. They're supposed to make one large bush. I also planted three 'Abraham Darby' roses to grow together in the bed closer to the porch.

Here is a shot of the cherry tree on the southwest corner of the house. The 'Coral Supreme' peony in front of the tree has several large buds for the first time, can't wait to see those blooms. You can see a bit of golden yellow basket of gold and orange tulips peeking through from the west flagstone path bed.

I'll finish with a view of the west bed, which has a bolder color scheme than the front yard. Only some of the tulips came back from last year, but the purple aubrieta and basket of gold keep getting bigger and better each year. You can see that the 'Teasing Georgia' rose on the trellis is actually climbing, finally, hooray.
Even though my eyes constantly pick out the parts of the front that need tweaking or more time to mature, it's fun to see the ways that this landscape has grown over the past two years. And it's nice to be able to share the garden with the neighborhood despite my urge to apologize for its faults. But really, it's just going to be so great in a few more years . . .


  1. Your gardens are lovely and show all the detailed work you've put into them. Let's face it, we are never totally satisfied with our own gardens. Always doing something we think would look just a little bit better. Your trees look great also.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Hi VW,

    Beautiful photos and you're much too hard on yourself! I hadn't even noticed the box thingies around the garden! :) (we don't have things like that in the UK)
    I love seeing the wider shots of your garden and yes I do realise that makes me sound somewhat stalker-ish. But you can sleep easy knowing we're a few thousand miles apart!

    Sorry to hear about the Cherries; what was wrong with them? Is your zone too harsh for them to survive? I hadn't realised Cherries were relatively tender!
    Looking forward to seeing the back garden now :)

  3. I love the soft colors in the front view. Don't you have salvia 'Caradonna' in that west garden? Seems like I remember it from last year?

  4. Freda - I do have Caradonna in the backyard and May Night in the west bed.
    Gwirrel - oh, the tale of woe about my cherries! They are hardy to zone 5, which is my zone, but the early/late frosts put stress on them here at the bottom of the valley where the cold air sinks. 3 in the backyard died 2 years ago. They were planted too deeply in clay soil, which cherries hate, I now know. So the ones in front were planted in very well drained soil and watered carefully during the summer. One died one branch at a time - some sort of disease, the nursery said. The other seemed healthy on top, but the trunk looked like a grenade had been let off inside. Deep holes in the bark . . . it was dead but didn't know it yet. It made me feel better to see 2 other established Kwanzans in neighboring yards also died recently. Last winter was extremely hard on all sorts of plants. It kills me each time I go to the mall and see healthy Kwanzans growing in parking strips (!!), but they are up the slope from us. Have you ever noticed how orchards are often planted along hillsides but not at the bottoms? I guess this is why - the temp really does drop enough to be a problem at the bottom of a valley, like at my house. But the dogwoods in the neighborhood seem to be fine, though my other 3 dogwoods didn't bloom much last spring after the hard winter. I should have done this in a post, sorry for the novel!

  5. I know how you feel - I'm always thinking "in a few years this will look great"! haha Your front looks great now, though!!! I bet your neighbors have serious garden envy. And I didn't even notice the mailboxes until you mentioned the - then I had to do a double take, so yes, the tree is doing it's job of camouflage! Very nice gardens.

  6. Your gardens look wonderful. I like the look of your creeping phlox, mine is so ratty looking. Thinking about moving it to a less front and center kind of spot in the garden. I think the porch redo you did a couple years ago is shaping up with wonderful plantings. ...and a cool big rock!

  7. Apologize my foot. Everyone's right...your neighbors are green with envy. Looks fantastic!

  8. I sure wish my front yard was as bad as that. I haven't gotten it trimmed up and in line. Maybe I need to tell it how embarrassed I am when the neighbors look over, and they'll start successively blooming like yours!

  9. Really VW, it's looking very lovely, I'm with the above posters that you're already putting your neighbor's yard to shame :) Too bad about the Kwanzan cherry tree's they are one of my favorites but I've had little luck with them and I don't have quite the temperature extremes that you do! Tete a tete daffodils are proving to be a new favorite of mine too; very prolific and hardly things! Cheers, Jenni

  10. So beautiful and so manicured! I adore creeping phlox, mine is the bright pink....

  11. Always fun to "stroll" through your garden!

  12. Well, my goal isn't to upstage the neighbors. I firmly believe that front yards aren't a competition, because everyone in the neighborhood wins when we keep them up nicely. But people know that I have a hort degree, worked at nurseries, write this blog and obsess about gardening, so I have a higher standard for myself. Does that make sense? So it's nice to finally have something pleasing happening in the front yard.

  13. Beautiful! I want to come visit!

  14. A delight to see your front garden! I remember when you were just starting to plan the changes and Susan Morrison chimed in with some ideas. Looking good!


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