Who needs a front lawn…

when you could have this?

The view from the drive

See that brownish lawn in the lower left corner? It’s got to go, and the grass path, too (someday a concrete stepping stone pathway). Mowing takes way less time now than it used too, but wouldn’t it be better to be able to skip mowing the front altogether?

Looking back toward the house from the edge of the garden.  On the left we have a PJM rhodie, astilbe, ferns, a chocolate cimicifuga, some tiarella, some heuchara, some cardinal flower, an orange azalea cv. Mandarin Lights, which was supposed to be Lemon Lights, a mountain laurel, some daylillies and some black-eyed susan volunteers I didn’t get around to moving. Oh, and some lamium as a ground cover creeping through the low plants to thwart the creeping charlie.

On the right, more astilbe, at the back another mountain laurel, a witch hazel, some hydrangea, sweetfern, lots of gorgeous daylillies and hostas (passalongs from a friend, thanks again Bets!), some phlox, more black-eyed susan, monkshood, columbines, red-twig and yellow twig dogwoods, and babyberry. Most of these plants were from a plant swap I co-organized with a pal at my former job, or from local plant sales, and many were divisions from friends. As my gardens have grown I have again divided them to create new beds, which gives the various garden beds some nice repetition, and then added select new plants here and there, which is in keeping with my thrifty nature. Gardening is the one area where I seem to be able to spend almost unflinchingly (for me!) but I still love to share divisions with friends and purchase from plant swaps. The plants then have stories to go with them!

I love this hosta bed to the left of the front door. We enlarged the bed this spring adding some new hostas, moving some others and adding some ferns. The gap in the center will be another mammoth hosta, Sum of All, I can hardly wait to see what it will look like when mature. I never understood the allure of hostas when younger, but I have come to love their beautiful shape, leaf texture, and gorgeous shades of glorious greens, golds and whites. I’m not crazy about the flower scapes, but they don’t last long and the bees like them, so I leave them be (and besides, who has time to cut off blooming flower scapes?!). I love the Japanese painted fern cv. Pictum in the center of the bed and will be adding more of those, too. I got that one from my beloved Fedco.

Along the driveway is a low hedge of Russian sage. This is just beginning to bloom, by August it will be glorious. It has done superbly in this challenging spot, a very narrow strip just a few feet wide, and mounded with snow during the winter months. I love the silvery-green filagree leaves and the purple spires. This photo does not begin to do it justice.

Here’s my recently re-done picket-fence bed also along the drive just beyond the Russian sage. This bed features a wonderful picket fence we received as a wedding gift from friends. I just love lavender so I hope this bed, warmed by the blacktop drive and with well amended, well drained soil will be a good location for a nice full row. We just added the dusty miller a week or so ago to fill it in as the lavender plants are small, yet filling out nicely now that the weather has heated up. Someday I’d like to get rid of that little strip of weeds and grass between the bed and the driveway, maybe with concrete pavers? I don’t know, but it is ugly, filled with plantain and creeping charlie, ugh, and worse yet, requires mowing.

The final bed in the front is the so-called silver garden, which probably should be called the sedum garden as we have discovered that is what grows the best there. This bed is along the drive against the house, a tiny narrow little strip which receives the afternoon sun and has terrible soil (I’ve amended and amended, am amending some more, but should have just replaced!). When we bought the house, this little strip was dead grass and UGLY! It features a deep purple Jackmanii clematis, a lavender vera I started from seed, a baby’s breath I started from seed, some not wildly happy lamb’s ear, and lots of cultivars of sedum we’ve picked up here and there, mostly from charity plant sales. The sedum and the clematis are thriving, so I will try and find another clematis for the far end and then pull everything else out to make room for the sedum and leave it at that.

It is hard to believe how much has changed in the seven years we’ve been gardening here. Now a days we don’t need such a large house, but we love this place, and plan to leave feet first. If we could, we’d be buried in the yard but the damned government has over-regulated cemetery creation. Next up, a report from the vegetable garden and more on the hoop house project.

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10 Responses to “Who needs a front lawn…”

  1. perennialgardenlover Says:

    You have a lovely garden. I love the Russian Sage and the white picket fence next to the driveway. Everything looks lush and healthy! Great job!

  2. Nancy Bond Says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Now that I have no small children, I’d happily do away with lawn IF I could get my gardens to look as lovely as yours. Well done!

  3. Peg Says:

    Ali, it’s just beautiful! All of it! Our house, particularly our yard, needs so much work; I’m bookmarking this post to refer to when I need both reassurance and inspiration — you didn’t get it all done overnight, how do I expect to?

    Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy and thanks again for sharing on-blog.

  4. Lori Says:

    Your blog & gardens are amazing. I wish I lived nearby, so I could drive by to see it all for real.

  5. Sue Says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share these images! Your discussion has been really helpful as I contemplate an overgrown forest of weeds at the brick-wall border of my own little yard… There’s an old rose hiding there amidst that crowd of weeds, and your scenes here have provided great inspiration for ways by which to find it some better company.

  6. Lynn Says:

    Ali, You need to contact a magazine to have them come and see how beautiful your yard is! It reminds me of a beautiful English country cottage. Perhaps you should go into garden design as a side job??

  7. Farmgirl_dk Says:

    I’m betting your neighbors all love you. Do you get frequent requests from people – even drive bys- wanting to tour your yard? It has such a serene feel to it in the pictures and your house looks absolutely charming. You’ve done such good work here – hard to believe just a few short months ago, we were all complaining and fussing about the weather and everything looked so barren! :-)

  8. gwen Buchanan Says:

    Beautiful , beautiful, beautiful.. I am really loving the care you are taking in landscaping your property.. glad I found your blog

  9. Sue Says:

    That is so beautiful. I have way too much yard. It is a job. I would much rather have your lovely gardens.

  10. Ali Says:

    Thanks so much for all the compliments! Please do be inspired, and don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed. I love flowers and really wanted big beautiful gardens, but knew that I needed low maintenance gardens since there are always more projects than time at Henbogle.

    With all these gardens we’ve eliminated a lot of lawn to mow, and made the existing mowing area easier to mow with fewer nooks and crannies. We started most of these gardens in the fall by laying down thick layers of newspaper and cardboard to kill the sod. In the spring, we plant through the cardboard. These gardens are primarily composed of vigorous, tough growers that do not require coddling. I have one small landscape rose currently being munched by the Japanese beetles — I won’t spray. I’m a big believe in mulch as I see weeding as a huge black hole of time. In the spring, we divide plants if needed, fertilize with an organic fertilizer, then refresh the mulch. We don’t need a huge thick layer every year as it breaks down slowly. The only summer maintenance required is deadheading, staking some plants, and spot weeding.

    So, great gardens are in the realm of readily achieved, Sue! Get rid of the lawn, you won’t regret it!

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