Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The front

For record-keeping purposes, here is a Before picture. It does not look like anything, right now. Except...before there was this, there really was nothing.

This is the south-facing front of the house - where junipers and trimmed Taxus (yew) are dotted about in a gravel desert. But behind them was an empty little piece of earth with some weeds, and our windows look onto it. So. For some more privacy, and mostly for flowers and for pollinator-friendliness, I planted. I know. It's crazy. We rent. But prettiness wins.

I couldn't help it.

And fall is an excellent time to get started.

I am hoping that the perennials I have chosen survive both winter - if we ever have winter - and also the soil, which is an unknown. It is very dense, packs like concrete when watered, looks poor, has lots of gravel, and in some places plastic was put down to suppress weeds, so I have left that. I am not investing in the soil in the front, but I have added a mulch of fallen leaves and added Plant Tone, too. And I have watered with a watering can when planting. Mostly, I have planted in two's (threes would be better) so that one plant type grows into one big clump. In theory. From the street it will be mostly invisible, - as you can see, below - but if it fills out it will be a nice spot for cup of coffee. Or a cocktail.

So, chosen for sun-preference, toughness and drought tolerance:

Some North Americans: Agastache 'Blue Fortune,' which grows tall and has plenty of bee power in its long-lasting blue blooms; pink Echinacea 'Pow Wow' and some gifted nameless ones, for their conspicuous flowers, plus bee friendliness, again; Amsonia, because I have always wanted Amsonia, and the little blue flowers in mid spring will be welcome, followed by lush and fine leaf texture and very nice golden fall foliage. For fall, golden rod (Solidago) and asters.

Exotics? Calamintha, because it is the hardiest perennial I know and I can think of nothing that blooms so prolifically for so long. Bees love it, and it has those minty leaves; clarey sage (Salvia sclarea)- a biennial with wide grey leaves and which will send up very tall flower spikes, giving wonderful height. Oreganum laevigatum 'Herrenhausen' - I could not resist the winter-purple leaves at Gowanus Nursery and I was given an excellent deal, at the tail end of the growing season. Plus thyme and marjoram, and perhaps other herbs, later.

From the back garden, a flopping sedum of the 'Autumn Joy' type - it made lots of flowers but needed more sun; and day lilies, probably Hemerocallis fulva, so orange (and edible) flowers.


Next picture in May? That is a very long wait.


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  1. I wondered if you would have a bit of a front garden too. We're drowning in the PNW, but no real winter as yet. You deserve a break after last winter!

  2. its all worth it!
    I live in Toronto in a very old horseshoe shaped 3 storey apt builing.
    we have x2 beds lining the interior of the courtyard and another x2
    huge beds at the front of the building. I spend between $1000-1200 a year
    on the garden. yes, its insane but it gives me so much joy to come home
    to a beautiful garden space. everyone comments on it through the summer
    and how much they appreciate it. people tell me I'm crazy to put so much
    into a garden that isn't mine........ they don't get it..... it is my
    garden!! (and no, I don't ever plan to move!)

  3. That's a truly beautiful building, Marie. Love your choice of perennials but it seems strange to me (as a Westerner of 40 years) to imagine pink (or any color) coneflowers growing back East, no less in "The City."
    Do you like and grow daisies? Long Island's gardens were always filled with them, it seems and with masses of roses.
    Enjoy your balmy (so far) Winter! Y'all surely have earned it after those last two years.
    Diane in warm but the snow
    is due again soon, Denver

  4. I have most of those perennials, and I can tell you that they are one hardy bunch -- I don't take care of them; don't water them but still they survive and keep on blooming profusely.


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