All of my weekends in October and November were devoted to putting in the front landscaping, a job that was so tiring that I am just now getting around to writing about it. Obviously these photos are a few months old, since everything now is covered in snow and ice! The fun began by ordering a few dumptrucks full of materials: topsoil, compost and mulch. Then my dad tilled the compost and topsoil into the front yard area while I graded and moved piles of dirt around with a shovel. Then the real fun began as I started planting shrubs and ornamentals that I’d been collecting for a long time—some of which I’d had so long that I had temporarily stashed them in a pit in the field over the summer.
I envision an untraditional front landscape for my house. I want to use this space as a dynamic garden that changes through the seasons, instead of typical landscaping which I view as as bunch of boring evergreens lined up underneath the windows. Thus, I chose only a few evergreens that I hope will fill in and provide masses of color and texture that will anchor more ephemeral annual and perennial material. The centerpiece of the garden is a small ornamental evergreen, the Horstmann Blue Atlas Cedar, which I chose because it won’t get too big nor will it block my view from the porch to the garage/guinea coop. This small tree has an intriguingly architectural shape and a blue gray color that reflects my trim and porch colors. In fact, I chose several blue gray evergreens, including Grey Owl Juniper, to reinforce this color palette.
In between drifts of Juniper, which also include the beautiful Gold Lace variety, I did a swath of Nandina ‘Chardonnay Pearls,’ which is a modern chartreuse that I hope will brighten the garden, particularly in spring when the plant sports tiny white flowers. Other shrubs include Albelia ‘Rose Creek,’ which I enjoy for its vintage cottage look and flower clusters that continue to provide interest well into the winter.
On the front corner of the house I planted a Doublefile Viburnum ‘Igloo.’ This plant has amazing double white flowers in the spring that look like butterflies, and it also keeps its interest throughout the fall as its leaves turn red. I plan to prune this plant into a small tree to anchor this front corner of the house. I also indulged myself with a few ornamental elderberries, ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘Black Lace.’ These shrubs resemble Japanese maples with their fine, dark foliage, and they also make pink berries for the birds to enjoy. I have very much enjoyed learning about shrubs and trees through this process. I had only ever had the space for vegetable and cut flower gardens, so a whole new world of plant material opened to me when I finally got land to spread out upon.
The garden doesn’t look like much now, but I considered it a huge victory to just have some plants in instead of looking at the bare dirt that had been there all summer. There are all sorts of other neat plants tucked in, including Japanese anemones, inherited iris, Korean lilacs, and perennial ‘Kent Beauty’ oregano. I also stuck my prized Pat Austin rose close to the porch for safekeeping—we will see if it survives the winter. Oh, and I also spent a weekend planting more than 200 daffodil, snowdrop and lily bulbs in this yard with the hope that in the spring they will fill in the bare spots where the plants have yet to grow.
So that’s the front yard—a project that consumed many hours and much muscle strength. Next spring I will tackle the side of the house that faces the road and the back yard. I’ve got big plans for both those spots!