Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Front Garden or Cinderella Meets Her Prince and Gets Some Pretty Clothes

Did you know that April has 30 days not 31? I had to recite "30 days has September, April, June and November" to realize that I didn't have an extra day to get my front yard post up in time to participate in the Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop . Here it is, hopefully in time! Thank you Nan for this opportunity.


Last fall I began a major reworking of the entire front yard ... most of the front yard is garden with grass paths and a small lawn area in fuller sun. We are still working on getting cohesion in the beds and editing plant material. I have an editing problem. Well, truth be told, I have a serious plant acquiring problem which causes the editing problem. I love plants and probably need to stay away from the nurseries unless it's on the list. A list edited by the garden coach.

There are four garden beds:

The Daylily/Perennial Garden
The Foundation/Wildflower garden
Wildflower Garden
The Big Green and or Brown Blimp Garden in the middle of the yard

Backstory, Excuses and a Happy Ending:

The Foundation Wildflower Garden has had the most dramatic transition, so far. It has gone from a big mess to a fairly decent wildflower garden. I say fairly decent because it has plants that sport beautiful spring color and interesting foliage the rest of the year. There is a section that still needs work....probably editing!

Shall I be brave and show you the before photo? Okay, here goes....

But first, please prepare for shock....and don't judge me too harshly, I let the area 'go' when we began plans in the early winter and we didn't start the work until August. But, it was terrible looking even before I stopped working on it. Now look!

You may be saying, that was bad but not so bad; Believe me that wasn't the worst shot, here it is....




Goodness, I feel all exposed and just a bit embarrassed! Like a poorly dressed Cinderella who knows she is a Princess inside; but none the less hates that you are seeing her covered in ash....

Time for an excuse:

When we added the porch we had plans to change the sidewalk and landscaping, but we made a financial decision to do it later. Don't ever do that...later is always more costly and a big hassle! But that is another post or maybe a rant.

We worked with a garden coach and a landscaper to bring this unruly garden into order. Sarah drew up some great plans, which included editing out plants and acquiring ones that made sense. Leigh brought the hardscape into reality.



Sarah and Leigh consult about the height of the wall. Please note, I dug up most of the rocks used for both walls when I originally dug the beds. They were being used as stepping stones or small walls, not missed at all with this new design.

The crew that Leigh brought over to do the rock walls and lay the flagstone were wonderful. Leigh had them build two curved walls. The house is very linear and the curves have softened it tremendously.

This is the second wall being built.
I love the rocks, I can remember where I dug some of them, especially the huge ones! Seriously, I do.

This was a fun project to be a part of... I asked them to include two boulders that were unearthed when we had some drain work done...If you look closely they look like a Triceratops!



After three days of hard work ...this is what I had. I cleaned up the construction mess, added more soil and began to implement Sarah's garden plan. She gave me a list of plants to get. So off to the nursery I went, list in hand!




and a few weeks later, I had planted Tiarella, Phlox divaricata, Heuchera, bulbs, Wild Geranium and Christmas Fern on the upper bed and dozens of Heucheras, two varieties of Blue Star, epimediums from another part of the garden and bulbs into the lower bed. The lower bed needed major weeding and editing of unwanted plant material. Cinderella was getting ready for the ball.

Later in the fall, the Blue Star shines in fall color and is echoed by the Witch Hazel in the mid background. Can you see Rusty to the left aglow?
Very early spring 2008


and April 2008

Late April....the perennials are emerging in the sunny curve.
and here you can see more perennials including Lemon Daylily, Columbine and grasses.


'May Breeze' Phlox divaricata and Tiarlla Cordifolia with one of the last daffodils


More wildflowers in front of the Front Porch...you have seen the Golden Ragwort in another post. It is a groundcover and looks especially lovely with the burgundy Japanese Maples.

I will always be guilty of stuffing too much plant material in any garden. I have, an affinity for garden clown pants...it's not perfect but then I am aiming for Great.


Gail

38 comments:

  1. Gail, that plant acquisition problem of which you speak is the reason I call myself a Horthead. You are not alone! Having just paid a painful amount of money and spent several days hauling 2,941 lbs of rock from the dump site to the back yard, I am envious of yours being there for the digging. Your walls look fabulous ... I sure wish I'd had your construction crew here to help me with mine the last few days. The wildflower garden is glorious: I love that combination of Tiarella and Phlox. Ya done good!

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  2. What a transformation! I've seen worse though, so I wouldn't be too embarrased. You should see my poor neglected mulch garden that I left behind 2 years ago! It was already in a bit of disarray but that was nothing compared to the shape it's in now. I must say that I love aquiring plants myself. I am also envious of all that rock you dug up in your yard! My rocks look nothing like those. Two thumbs up.

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  3. Wow Gail that has really shaped up! I love the rocks. Amazing how familiar they look to the one's at my in-laws house! The phlox looks good.

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  4. cindy, Thank you...I love rocks and it is a good thing they grow quite nicely here! The wild flowers are especially gorgeous this year, not sure if it is my imagination after we lost everything to a late frost last year or if nature is giving us a gift. Whatever I am enjoying it tremendously. I am so very glad you stopped by and left a comment.

    Gail

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  5. cinj,

    You rock! Actually you do, and I am always glad you stop by for a visit and leave me kind and supportive words...It did turn out well which lessons my embarrassment...not sure I could stand naked as the before without the after completed!

    Gail

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  6. Dave,

    Your in laws live near the glades and it is VERY rocky there! I purchased the phlox from the Cheekwood wildflower fair. You have got to go next year...it is fun. Thanks for stopping by!
    Gail

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  7. Very great series of pictures. I love the garden now and I too have that editing problem. That is why I am always working in the garden. Truly it is not the weeds but the 'reworking' and moving things. Lovely design.

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  8. Wow, Gail, that is quite a transformation! i love that you were able to reuse the rocks on your property. It makes the walls even more special.

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  9. Ohhhh Gail!! Great post!!! I absolutely love stone work and rock walls. With all the great plants to go with the stone and rocks I find your place very enchanting. Great job.

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  10. Great before and after images, Gail! I love the transformation. I'm as much a plant lover as the next gardener, but I love hardscape equally as much, and I believe that good hardscaping has transformative power, even more than the plants that you choose. Luckily, you've got both now.

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  11. What a terrific post, Gail! Dare I say that with such lovely stonework, you didn't even need plants? No, of course you needed them. This garden was definitely worth waiting for and will bring you a lifetime of joy. Thanks for sharing the process for this month's Design Workshop. (And actually, it works for next month's too, so consider yourself extra-early for May!)

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  12. Pam, I agree it transformed the yard/garden over night. And it transformed me, I know that sounds dramatic but I realized that you have to look at the big picture and figure out what is essential in a budget and then do it! Waiting doesn't always make sense!

    Glad you like the changes.

    Gail

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  13. tin,

    You need to stop by and see it in person, soon before the wildflowers are gone! I can give you some P pilosa then and hypericum....

    Gail

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  14. vertie, I love those rocks! They do make it special...how are you?

    Gail

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  15. nan, I almost felt the same..."don't plant just enjoy the stone work!" It still astonishes me that hardscape can be so powerful, as Pam says, transformative. Can't wait til the next design workshop.

    Gail

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  16. Jean, Stone work and rocks, I love them, too! Always glad when you stop by and tell me such nice things, you are a sweetie pie.

    gail

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  17. Hi Gail, your before and after is amazing. Having those after shots certainly do make up for any shyness about the before. The stone work done is first class. Your entrance looks so very inviting and even suits your personality very well. Your plant choices are perfection. Even if you find some 'can't live without 'ems' at the nursery, it looks as though there is a place for a few more in those beds. Thanks for a very enjoyable read.

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  18. How very gratifying to see the evolution of this area. What would the last photo be without the first for comparison? You must be so pleased with this lovely space! Great job and digging rocks is very hard work.

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  19. Frances, You are so right...about the after making up for the before! Mr. I don't garden/blog and I were talking about our decision to put off the sidewalk and we are actually glad we have this sidewalk, not sure the original design would have been as creative or as you say...my personality! There is a lot of room for plants!

    gail

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  20. layanee, I am very very pleased...it surpassed my vision. Mr IDG/B loves it, too. You know from experience that digging rock is hard, don't you!
    Gail

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  21. I love the aspect of "Before & Afters." Nothing tells a story better. Your front garden looks great. Have you submitted this to any gardening magazines? They love before & after stories, especially with such great photos.

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  22. What a gorgeous transformation! And you are by far not the only one who has a plant acquiring problem.

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  23. Gail, I am going to try to come down in May. Will that be ok? Not sure if prior to PPS will work but would love to come see the garden and for you to come visit here too.

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  24. Wow Gail! I'm so impressed with the design and hard work both you and the landscape artist put in to this project. It shines in every season. There is something interesting at every turn. I can see how uplifting it is to those who come to you for counseling. I came and I got help today. I certainly feel better after seeing it. It just sets a whole stage for recovery. It's so peaceful. Congrats.

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  25. Gail, the transformation you've done here is amazing. I love the whole "wild" theme, it suites your property perfectly. You must love to walk along that walkway now and see what's new each day.

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  26. Jim. The before picture is something else... I think it also tells the story of my great ability to ignore an eyesore for so long! Thank you for your kind words....

    Gail

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  27. Lisa,

    We need to start a support group, no...we have one...blogging! Glade you stopped by, I will be by your place later....I want to read about that fertilizer.

    Gail

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  28. anna,

    You are being too nice to me, saying too many kind things you must... keep it up! I love it! Seriously, I do hope it is uplifting for others...and I am especially glad you liked it,

    Gail

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  29. Tina,
    Come sooner rather than later....the spring garden will disappear! Gail

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  30. melanie,

    I do love it and I do spend time just looking. It gets the best weeding attention...and it is a wild garden. Had we more sun it might be a very different space.

    Gail

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  31. Great post, Gail! What an amazing transformation. I can just see all your cares dropping away as you walk up your front walk, enjoying this beautiful scene.

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  32. I love transformation stories and seeing the before and after pictures. It looks so good! I love the stone (I'm always afraid that I'm using too much in our garden) and the plants are really pretty. Great job!

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  33. Rose,

    That is a lovely thought Rose, I hope cares drop away...

    Gail

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  34. Phillip,

    The sidewalk we passed on when we built the porch was to be paver stones which would look good in another less busy garden! We decided that flagstone made sense but it needed to be big pieces of stone or it would be TOO busy. I think we chose correctly.

    We have so much stone in the whole area that it looks good here but I don't know how it might look in another location.

    Can one have too much stone;-) Sometimes the type of stone can look wrong....like lava stone, it does not belong in the southeastern states;)

    Where is your stone, I am going to go look closely at your photos.

    Gail

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  35. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful transformation!! Just Beautiful! And practical, too. :-)

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  36. Gail: This was a really fun post.To follow along with you as you transformed this area. I am in love with the stone wall and the flagstone walkway...and I'm a big fan of curving any edge in the garden. Your perennials look marvelous this spring. I especially like the wildflowers and the sort of wild (in a good way) look in front of the porch. I know you are loving your garden now and I'm loving it with you.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

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  37. shady,

    So glad you like it....sometimes change is good!

    meems,
    Yes I do love it and I had as much fun watching the masons as I did planting it out. Who knew a curve or two could add so much!

    Gail

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  38. Gail,

    The transformation is stunning! Such a natural looking space. If you hadn't included the before pictures for comparison it would appear as though your lovely garden had been established years ago.

    Cathy

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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