Reworking my front garden has been an exercise of gardening in phases. Phase One went on all winter as I evaluated the plants I had, hunted down the plants I wanted to add, and thought about adding a few larger rocks to the mix. You’ve all been along for this part.
The rest of this phase involved identifying the planting look I was after, there were a few key images I kept coming back to over and over. Some of these were photos I had taken at Cistus…like this one of an upright Manzantia. The Manzanita I planted last year is growing at a great windswept angle; I wanted to be sure to include this form.: Another Cistus photo, I like the over planted “mashed together-ness” and the different textures here: Especially this airy, yet course and wiry texture: Next up is this random photo I found online and saved (my apologies I have no idea where this one came from, so I cannot properly attribute it, please let me know if you can). In my opinion this one has big rocks done right. They relate to the house and I can only assume the surrounding landscape as well (and my god how I would love to live there!). Of course the “Arizona- esque” landscape I’ve featured countless times figures large, especially when it came to influencing my plant choices. Part of the desired look meant using things that had winter interest (it helped to shop for plants in the winter!) and hardiness, no more watching as the anchors in my garden were struck down in winter (fingers crossed, all of them). Phase Two occurred in late March when I removed the things that weren’t part of the future plan. These items are in the red circles in this picture (this picture is so ugly I almost didn’t include it. How can I call myself a gardener? YUCK). Two of the three shrubby Euphorbia that had been in place since day one (roughly May of 2006), had to go. After all only one of them regularly looked good, time for the others to disappear.
The same for the Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass). There was a time when I purchased this plant every single time I stepped foot in a nursery. I couldn’t get enough of it! Well, the trio in the front garden didn’t like full baking sun (maybe that’s why they call it “forest grass ya think?”) and it added no winter interest once I cut it back in January (these are the three small circles closest to the sidewalk). Gone! Okay, moved elsewhere actually, I couldn’t just get rid of it.
And of course the Camellia went away too.
The nagging question of whether or not to incorporate larger rocks into the design was solved rather unexpectedly and a great deal of the credit goes to Jane (aka “The MulchMaid”). We were having a conversation about just that as we stood looking at my front garden. She casually said something along the lines of (sorry Jane, I’m paraphrasing here) “I guess I picture something rounder, not craggy.” I had previously dismissed large round rocks seeing them as something to be found in old lady gardens sounding a bed of roses. But when Jane said that I suddenly remembered my visit to Jungle Fever Exotics and these pictures became part of my inspiration photos too: Yes the rocks in the first picture are fairly large, but it’s the spirit of the thing that got me…not those rocks in particular. So off I went to buy a few “medium” sized rocks to add interest, and drainage. Perfect! Plus the fact that I could easily lift them myself was an added benefit! So… plants and rocks bought, non-keepers relocated…it’s time to start planting. That’s Part 2…(to be continued)