Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Front Yard

I've recently been doing some work in the front yard. The gooseberry plant was cut way back. I have to do this every year or it would take over. The other two gooseberries that you can't see are slowly coming along. I've heard they can be grown as standards so I'm trying. I'll see if it works or not.

The pot at the corner this year is doing better than normal. I usually forget to water it on occasion and it droops pitifully until I notice it. But this year it hasn't. The middle spire plant hasn't grown one inch since I bought it. I thought it was supposed to double in height. Not so much. My favorite plant in this is the Garnet sweet potato. It is my experiment. People use ornamental sweet potatoes all the time, but they aren't edible. This one is. I picked the variety that I grow that has the prettiest leaves. They may just be green, but they have a nice shape.

Weeds taller than the hostas

Sadly those were the best things going on in the front yard. My townhouse mates have been out of town on and off a lot and have let the weeds get out of hand. Weeding is their job. But I took it up this week and got at least some of it done.

We also lost a lot of plants in the bed in front of my door this year so it looks pitiful. The peach tree died and we replaced it. The branches are exactly 8" long. It will be a while before it fills in enough to look pretty. And we lost six blueberry plants. I don't know why so many plants died in that spot this year. I would think the blueberries by the road would die. I had a van run over them. Then Molly kept running over them all winter long. And the salt truck actually got down to the end of our road and salted in front of them. But no. Those are doing great. I'm guessing it is the lack of water. As the blueberries are on a higher spot near the bricks. But that wouldn't explain the peach that was next to it. But whatever the reason, it is bare. And it looks so ugly. And it is in front of my house.

In May I had asked the my townhouse mates if I could have a budget (as we have a shared yard) to put something in there, but never got a response. I didn't push it as I was so sick this spring. I wasn't really up to doing anything anyway. But now I'm much better. And I have energy to do things. So now they are in trouble.

I've made plans. I want to put the path in front of the gooseberries that we had planned to do ages ago. I want to line the edges in brick raised a couple of inches. Have stones in the middle. And have mazus be the ground cover. I've always loved stepping stones surrounded by ground covers. But I don't want the mazus to escape the area and it is a vigorous grower. I'm hoping the raised bricks will direct the plants to stay inside the zone. It might work. Might not.

And I want color in front of my house. I keep changing my mind on the plan. I have noticed that I gravitate toward the daisy like flowers - echinacea, daisies, helenium, rudbeckia, gaillardia. I have to make myself think of things that are different like daylilies and Russian sage. I'm also finding since the space is small that I have to search out the dwarf varieties of things. I don't want the plants higher than the lowest foliage on my dwarf peach trees. I want air to get under the branches. Basically I don't want anything taller than 2'. And the front plants should be shorter.

On my walks I've been looking at the plants. I've been noticing which ones grow well around here. Heleniums seem to do well in people's yards. The only ones I haven't seen growing well on my list are gaillardia. I've yet to see it around here. But its requirements seem to be really easy. It can handle moist or wet soils. It can handle clay or sandy soils. It is very hardy. It seems a bomb proof plant, but then why do I never see it anywhere? It makes me wonder. Either way I think Arizona Apricot is really pretty. Right now I have it next to Little Spires which is a dwarf Russian sage and Short and Sassy a dwarf helenium. The helenium seems so close to the color and flower shape of the gaillardia that I ought to change one of them up. I love that orange in the helenium. And maybe the yellow of the gaillardia is not as close as I think. I go back and forth.

I'm hoping to get the hardscaping part of it done this year and plant everything up next spring. Many of the plants I like can be grown from seed which I can do this winter. Or I can get small 4" pots. I could plant in the fall, but I've had less success with fall plantings than spring plantings in the past. And then I can't grow anything from seed.


  1. Good luck with your plans. Planning is fun isn't it?

  2. I just laughed when I saw the hosta photo - some of my ornamental beds are about that bad. I am making myself a promise that I will take care of that this week - for sure! I love the way you did your plans - wish I had the knack for that.

  3. We lost a blueberry bush this year too, and our friends also had problems with theirs so there could be something this year they don't like.

  4. I want my gooseberries to grow up soon and look like yours! I love the looks of gaillardia but I've never had any luck with it here. That 2ft height makes it tough to find plants. All of the ones we have that are easy and colorful are also taller.

  5. I have an area where nothing grows or hardly at all. I have wondered if maybe concrete water was dumped in there or something when the house was built.

  6. I wish my gooseberries were as vigorous as yours. I've grown three varieties now and they never seem to prosper.
    Love the plan drawings. Hope it goes well.

  7. I can't wait to see how your front yard turns out. I've never actually heard of mazus but you've peaked my curiosity. I'd like to do some hardscaping too this fall. We have a patch of lawn in front of our porch that gets very muddy during the winter. BTW - I like your design.