April 30, 2012

Before & After: Front Bed One Year Later


For several years I had dreamed of replanting the two beds at the front of the house. The shrubs had become overgrown and although they remained green and lush throughout the year, I longed for a more cottage style garden filled with flowering plants that would attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Last April I had the overgrown shrubs pulled out, {I salvaged three by replanting them in new locations}, which opened up a lot of space to the approach of the house.  {This post will focus on the bed to the left of the front door}.


You only see one yaupon holly shrub {to the right} in this shot.  There were six total; three flanking each side of the walkway to the front door.


Here you see the rest of the bed as it curves to the left revealing a Japanese holly fern and a couple Indian hawthorn shrubs.  The swing wasn't as welcoming as I would have liked since the shrubs were so tall and dense.  The limestone wall to the left helps create a nice, private space that feels cozy.  I wanted to design a seating area that was welcoming and reminiscent of a time when neighbors felt compelled to stop and chat.


Oklahoma flagstone was my choice for the patio.  We used decomposed granite to fill in the negative space between the stones.   A weeping Japanese maple adds a little height and drama with soft, beautifully textured leaves.  Oh yes, and I painted the swing black to match the shutters and rocking chairs on the opposite side of the porch.


By this time in April last year, it was already dry and beginning to get hot.  I decided to hold off planting most of the perennials until fall, with the exception of silver pony-foot, purple heart and elephant ear {along the limestone wall}.   Annuals were used for seasonal color and to buy me some time until I could plant when the weather cooled.


Green and purple sweet potato vine spills from a terra cotta pot, zinnia adds as splash of color and Thai basil {mid-right} is grown for culinary purposes as well as for it's late summer/early fall show of purple flowers {below}. Silver pony-foot peaks from behind the green sweet potato vine on the left.


Bee enjoying Thai basil bloom late last summer.


This is the bed today.  Starting at the top left of the photo, elephant ear, purple heart and Mexican honeysuckle (orange bloom).  Behind the maple and out of sight, is mountain sage (orange), lyre leaf sage (purple) and a few violets (purple).  Firespike (red) is found behind the pot on the right.  In front of the pot is daisy (white), I'm not sure of the variety, it was a pass along from a friend.  Purple heart is planted in the pot. Under the tree and left is silver pony-foot and in front of that is pineapple sage (red). 


Cat's whiskers (white) is a new plant I'm trying.  This bed sits in a low, semi-shady spot and stays wetter than any other area in my yard.  Cat's whiskers likes it more wet than dry and is a tender perennial.  If we have a mild winter like last winter, it should be fine.  If not, then it will be an annual.  It's sweet flowers were worth the chance to me.  I love how the delicate leaves of the maple and the delicate flowers of the cat's whiskers play on the breeze together. 

Moving forward from the cat's whiskers, the bed becomes sunnier and heat loving plants were used.  Ruby crystals grass (pinkish purple), milkweed (orange/yellow/red), cosmos (orange), (reseeded from last summer), Thai basil (purple), globe mallow (orange) and black-eyed Susan (yellow), (from a near-by bed) finish the planting.   


The season's first cosmos bloom.

I'm eager for everything to start filling in so my dream of a butterfly/hummingbird attracting garden can become a reality.  My desire to have neighbors feel welcome has been achieved...my neighbor and new friend Leroy has stopped by a couple of times and that makes all the hard work worth it!








24 comments:

  1. Beautiful looking house and garden... and cosmos already? Mine has yet to even germinate. hahahaaa... the 'ever-slow' me...

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  2. Beautiful transformation. Sometimes it is really good to pull it all out and start again. Nice job.

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  3. I really enjoy seeing gardens develop, and your before and after shots, along with the detailed descriptions, are a treat. It looks nice in its young stage, but how beautiful it will be soon when it all fills in!

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  4. Love that cat whiskers/Japanese maple combo, too! Really wonderful plant selection and planning, and I can't wait to see your shots as it fills in.

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  5. Fabulous transformation! I really like the new plant choices and it compliments the space so much better than the shrubbery. I like all the thought you put into choosing plants for the pollinators. Looks great Cat!

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  6. We've been pulling out and starting over here, ever since we got here.
    It feels good, when it works.

    Yours looks like it will work just fine. Very colorful and inviting.

    I'm guessing you don't have a deer problem in that part of your yard.

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  7. Thanks, Linda. No, no deer here. Rabbits are sometimes a problem. Especially when it's so dry. I've enjoyed watching the changes you've made to your garden too. It does feel good.

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  8. I have several Texas Sage bushes that need to be removed so I can use the bed they're in. It's so much work and I've put it off until the fall. Before and after are always fun to see. You did a really good job. Enjoy!

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  9. I think we have the exact same Japanese Maple!! Mine's 'Crimson Queen'.

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  10. Beautiful garden. Just got a cat's whiskers on Saturday, so I really appreciate seeing your lovely specimen.

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  11. That looks so much prettier and more inviting. The butterflies and birds will enjoy your new bed too.

    I lost my Cat's Whiskers to an early frost last fall. I was surprised, but I think the sudden drop was too much for it.

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  12. The cat's whiskers are so pretty! What a lovely area. I love the patio with the Japanese maple next to it. The garden will look so great when everything fills in!

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  13. It's a lovely combination of plants, Cat! And the hardscaping is awesome, too. That's such an interesting color for Cosmos--very nice!

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  14. I love it!! I love the wall. It's very hug-like and encompassing. Taking out the shrubs was a great idea. What a lush spot that will be this summer. :o)

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  15. Gorgeous! Seems more open and inviting. I really like the use of colors and textures. Love that Japanese Maple.

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  16. Glad to see how it all works together in that space. Not only does it make sense, but you help me appreciate something different! You remind me to visit two gardens I designed on the TX border I haven't seen in 2 years...much different than here in the desert.

    The way that wall encloses, and the ferns growing out of it, is so appealing!

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  17. I remember when you posted about the change and it has become more beautiful....I love how the curves work together and do invite you in....just gorgeous...can't wait to see it as it grows more!

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  18. You've really turned this area around into a welcoming lovely space! I love the cat whiskers against the maple and your use of grasses. Its lovely Cat!

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  19. I though you might be in Texas. Don't know if it was your choice of plants or your rain gauge, but I thought you might be. Kudos for taking out those shrubs. I'm just not a shrub type of person, and I like to see them exchange places with plants that have personality! Love that you used Cat's Whiskers -- aren't they fun ! Before our first freeze last year I took cuttings for these just in case I lost it. They are easy to root if you'd like to make more for your beds. Also wanted to invite you to the plant swap we hold each spring and fall if you are interested. Please email me if you'd like more information.

    soriano471@sbcglobal.net

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  20. Cat - I LOVE the way you extended the patio in front of the swing. Gave me an idea for a problem area in my yard. Also love the japanese maple. I just bought 3 japanese maples and still have them in large pots to see where they are happiest in my yard during the 'death star' summer.

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  21. Cat, I just LOVE what you did with that entire area! And I love the swing painted black as well. I hope the neighbors are dropping by to chat!

    I am especially in awe of the terra cotta pot! I have a broken pot that I adore... I think I just found a new way to "use" it!

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  22. I love before-and-after series, especially ones that have such a pretty "after" result. I love your new patio and inviting swing garden. Great job!

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  23. How beautiful! A welcoming garden indeed! I love your Japanese maple. In my Michigan landscaping I planted 4 of them, 2 of which are weeping. Your cosmos are lovely too. Mine are coming back from the few I planted last spring. Thai basil is wonderful too! I buy a Thai basil every year. It's great to add to a homemade cauliflower, potato and spinach curry. I love your swing too :) Next time I'm in Austin, I just might stop by! (not unannounced of course ;-)

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Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

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