Wednesday, 11 May 2016

So the front garden: part 1.

This has taken up most of my time whenever it has been dry this spring. I last posted about it back in August last year, the post can be found here. At that point the right hand side was all levelled and the gravel was down.

At that point I optimistically ended that post with the sentence "Still lots to do, but it feels like the main bit is done". How wrong, but I'll come back to that.

The idea for the front is less spiky with a blue, white and silver theme. We will stick to this fairly rigorously with the one exception of the odd splash of orange. So stop reading now if you offended by flowers.

In November a sunny afternoon was spent planting around 300 bulbs into the gravel. It should have been a simple task, but having taken care when laying the gravel there were two layers of weed membrane under it. Each location a bulb was to be planted required moving the gravel, cutting a hole, digging out the hole, refilling with better compost and then moving gravel back.  Very repetitive and sadly the garden looked no different at all after all the work.  The bulbs were selected to give flowers from beginning of March until roughly the end of July.

Come spring and things started to show, the crocuses were first. Very pretty but the planting didn't really work.

The blue crocus were next. They were slightly more blue that this photo.

The irises worked better in the gravel.

They looked good with the rocks.

What is it they say about best laid plans. Either the mild winter, or being their first year but instead of flowering over an extended period everything decided to flower at the same time.  The tulips:

Then the anemones as well, which are now finished but shouldn't have even started yet.  I can't complain though as they gave quite a display.

Sadly the only think that did not come up the size expected was the eremurus. The three rocks in in the above photo at to stop me walking on the tiny little plant. It is going to be a few years until that one flowers.

While this lot were flowering away, we got started on the other side. It seems that while succulents go to sleep over the winter lots of local plants do not and come spring the left hand side of the garden had to be sprayed, dug and levelled once again. I've lost count of the number of times I have dug this garden, succulent gardening is a lot less work.

Finally we were able to set out the beds.

More gravel and laying out the first set of plants.

More digging as lots of manure is dug in. Finally some plants can actually be planted.

I was beginning to find out how big the garden was, the number of plants was racking up, it was good when there were plants available form the back.  Remember the yucca dug up from the back (you can see the post here). They turned out to be two plants not a twin head.  Splitting them was easy once all the soil was shaken off and in the new bed they look much bigger.

As the dog will not be loose in the front we are able to plant I few plants I wouldn't risk in the back, like juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'

It feels like the central bed is coming together. It will be a few years before the plants fill out, no doubt a few plants will be moved during that time.

The other two beds are filling up very slowly. Not only does it take time to find interesting plants that flower at different times, and fit the colour scheme, but it is expensive and is having to be spred out. The garden doesn't looks great yet, it is a bit disjointed. As more plants are repeated in various different locations the garden as a whole will hopefully pull together. Time will tell if it will work, not being succulents is all a bit of an adventure for me.

Then finally this weekend I got to start adding the succulents and alpines to the gravel sections. They are going in slowly and I'll do separate post on that once I have finished it. In the mean time here is a taster as we can't have a post with so few succulents.

It felt a lot more within my comfort zone working in the gravel section. I'm going to try out a few different ideas there is not enough space for in the back. Assuming the rain stops, I'll get to finish this and can post the results.

So a very different post to normal, but hopefully the work will be worth it. Maybe this time it really is safe to say the worst is over, at least in terms of the physical stuff, lots of plant finding still to come.


  1. You've been busy. That must have been a lot of painful effort to prep the soil, and gravel is heavy to move as well.

    The plant finding is the fun part, so most of the fun is yet to come.

    1. It was the prep that was hard, so much builders rubble, weeds, re-digging. But as you say the fun bit is to come.