Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Now about that never ending front yard project...

Last fall I dug out a bunch of scraggly azaleas and put in some new foundation plantings (pieris and gumpo azaleas) and shade perennials (coral bells, hostas, epimedium, ferns, and a few others).  They did ... well ... just ok through the summer.  I lost a couple of gumpo azaleas to the heat and the increased sun that got to the front bed once we cut down a massive oak.  So, time to rethink front shade garden.  Parts of it are now not so shady!

But the part that is still quite shady has become lovely with the recent rains and cooler weather.  And I've been very pleasantly surprised by the "clowns" that have volunteered.

These enchanting little flowers (BHG's description) were not ones I had planted this year.  They are torenias, also known as wishbone flowers.  BHG says they have clown faces.  They sprouted from seeds leftover from last summer's front-of-the-border-planting.  I couldn't be happier.  They are sooo pretty and fill in some bare spots where the other perennials have not quite filled out yet.  I can't wait to see how long they will keep blooming and sure hope they will volunteer again next year.

Now that I've lived with the front garden re-do for almost a year, I'm  seeing spots that really need larger, more substantial plants to give the whole front area more structure.  Because I love their look and because I have one beautiful rhododendron at the corner of the house, I'm thinking of filling a couple of the gaps with them.  Their leathery leaves stay pretty all year.  Thoughtful pruning can shape them nicely and their flowers are showy, in an understated sort of way.  Does that make sense?

They also make me think of the mountains and just make me feel cooler - not cooler as in hip, but cooler as in a walk along a gurgling mountain brook, cooler as in how you feel when you don your sweater and sit in a rocker on the porch, cooler as in waking as the sun comes over the ridge and smelling the fresh mountain air.  I don't live in the mountains but thankfully some of our mountain species will do just fine right here in the Piedmont.  Yes, I think I'll plant rhododendrons.

This is another spot that is undergoing transformation very, very slowly.  It has sat ugly and bare, filled with stones and eroding, covering the driveway with fine silt every time it rains hard.  Last weekend, I dug out the stones, added some compost, and moved a few flowering impatiens (they won't last too much longer, but they're pretty now), some liriope that I divided from another spot in the yard, and a bit of vinca.  Again, all shade plants.

I'm showing you this rather ugly bottom photo so that we'll have something to compare with when I transform that bare edge spot where nothing will grow because those who play basketball run across it.  The plan is to dig out some of the soil and fill with small to medium sized round river rocks.  It just might look like a little dry mountain streambed.  Yeah, we've got a theme going here, don't we.

Anyway, stay tuned on this one.

I've been working in the back, too.  Mostly weeding.  There's a lot of basil to pick and make into end-of-the-season pesto and some rethinking the top of the retaining wall garden. Unlike the front bed that's more sunny that I thought, this back garden is more shady than I had hoped.  It's just not a great place for peppers and tomatoes.  So, we'll have to move on to Plan B, C, D, E .... whatever.

Oh, and if you were wondering about those big oaks that were cut down ...

The wood, cut in fireplace lengths, had stayed right where the tree guys left it in our front yard -  until Friday, that is.  Instead of long walks for a couple of days, my workouts consisted of shoving, rolling, and stacking logs.  They're now out of the way so that we can finally plant grass in our front yard again.  Maybe, just maybe, with a bit more sun there now, the grass will grow this time.  At least until the frizcup players get to it!  


bwilliams said...

I am not familiar with torenias, but I love the colors. They may have to go on my planting list for next year.

tonia said...

lovely! I moved the rhubarb this weekend, planted some bulbs...felt a little hopeful that maybe one day I will have a yard I enjoy. :) You inspire.