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Front Garden Project


Well this is a follow on from an entry last year. I posted a question about what I could do with the front garden in our new house. I began like this

I had plenty of advice from my gardening buddies, particularly Andrew who curbed my enthusiasm to plant some monster trees in the front!
We paid for a labourer to clear the plot and ‘rotivate’ the soil to ensure it was broken up to a reasonable depth. Everything was cleared, but he only ‘cultivated’ the top 4" of soil and when I came to start planting I couldn’t dig any further than the top 4" hitting compacted hardcore!!

Not to be put off I hired a posthole borer, got manure, compost, fertilizer and my husband Jed who spent the whole weekend drilling, digging and improving the quality of the plot, with my assistance/supervision of course :)

My original plan was to plant a hedge between us and the neighbours using Coprosma Pink splendour and Phormium Tricolour as the leaves on the plants compliment each other beautifully. Unfortunately after discovering that Phormiums come in different sizes I discovered that the ones I had used were Tenax which would grow up to 6’ up and around rather than cookianum which is the dwarf version of the shrub. In the end I decided to take out the Phormium and just plant the Coprosma. Also included in this border are thrift, Sedum Spureum and tulips

The sunny border next to the fence was the most fun! After making a trip to Ventnor Botanical Gardens on the south of the Island I took inspiration from the New Zealand garden and the majority of the plants originate from there. I’m pretty sure that I’ve made some gargantuan planting errors, but I hope some pruning and maybe replanting somewhere else won’t prove too much of a problem. I’ve never used the majority of these plants before so I will learn by my mistakes and successes.

Some of the plants in this border are
Eucalyptus pauciflora niphophila x 1 Tree
Phormium Tenax Yellow Wave x 2
Beschorneria yuccoides X 1
Echium Candicans x 3
Callistemon ‘Red Clusters’ x 3
Rosemary x 1
Jasmine? X 1
Grevillea rosemarinifolia x 1
Grevillea juniperina x 2
Convolvulus cneorum x 3
Osteospermum Orange Symphony x 3
Stipia Tenuissima x 6
Stipia Gigantica x 1
Miscanthus sinensis ’Ferne Oseten x 1
Pennisetum Rubrum x 1
Chondropetalum tectrum (thatching reed) x 1
Festuca Glauca x 5
Pseudopanax Ferox x 3
Santolina x 1
Heuchera – Key Lime Pie x 6, Purple Prince x 5
Dierama ‘ Snowbells’ x 2
Cirsium japonicum x 3
Euphorbia Rubrum x 5

Hebe (conifer) x 3-can’t remember the variety
Hebe small shrub x 3 – can’t remember the variety
Coprosma Kiwi Red x 1

The border nearest the house is the most challenging. It is in semi to complete shade and quite damp. I have incorporated horticultural grit and sand to improve drainage and have put in plants that enjoy these conditions

Euonymous x 3 different varieties
Fathedra Lizei x 1
Pachysandra Terminalis x 5
Astilbe Chinensis Vision in Red x 6
Hydrangea Lady in Red x 4
Rodgersia x 2
Athyrium Niponicum ’Lady in Red x 3
Athyrium Burgundy Lace x 3
Melianthus comosus x 1
Garrya Eliptica x 1
Azalea dwarf various x 3
Rhododendron x 1
Polygonatum Solomons Seal x 3
Trillium Kurabayahii x 5
Ajuga x 3
Hellebore Stinking x 3-4 small seedlings

My original plan was to plant a tree in the centre of the garden inside a stone circle, however I decided to keep a full circle and just use plants in pots which compliment the season.

We used gravel to cover the area around the circle and up to the beds and we are in the process of covering the beds with bark chippings, I also have some cobbles which I am going to use to break up the gravel To separate the bark and the gravel I have used Lavender Dwarf Fragrant Munstead which will form a small compact hedge in between the gravel and bark. The shady borders do get sun in the summer towards the late afternoon so the lavender shouldn’t be too deprived of sun in that area of the garden. I bought over 90 plugs!! Great deal from J Parkers.

Finally after all the shrubs and perennials were planted I put in 100’s of bulbs

Trillium Kurabayahii x 5
Minature Daffodills, 3 varieties x 150
Ballerina tulips x 90
Queen of the night tulips x 50
Alliums, Christophii, Purple sensation, Karataviense Ivory Queen,x 80 approx
Anemone Blanda x 50
Muscari comosum Tassel Hyacinth x 20
Dichelostemma Ida-Maia x 30

I am now exhausted and my husband has been longing to get back to work on a monday morning!!!
The final finishing touch in the front is to replace the fence with bricks, but I think we will take the winter off and do that in the spring.
I will keep posting pictures to update the growth and maturity. I really enjoyed this!! If anyone has any questions about the plants I have used and where to buy the, i’ll try and answer as much as I can.
Does anyone think I am bonkers doing this for a living???

More blog posts by AndreaRichter

Previous post: Protea flowering in the UK

Next post: Daffodils



Wow! You really have been busy, Andrea. Compliments to Jed, too. There's a great mix of plants in the list - in the spring when all the bulbs appear, it will look stunning! I am looking forward to seeing the photos. :-)

You should know what you are doing, with your background! LOL.

My ONLY concern which I have said to you a while back is the Coprosmas. They will need protection if there's prolonged or heavy frost. I told you I lost two of mine last winter, I think. Yours are lovely and it would be such a shame to lose them. I hope the fleece is ready!

24 Nov, 2008


Congrats on a fine job. It looks great, and just that little bit different, which is always attractive. Spring should really be a showstopper!

24 Nov, 2008


Thanks for the comments, after all the hard work it's nice to get compliments.
I hope the bulbs make an appearance as its been really wet and even with all the grit I put under them, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
I am planning my summer bulb/rhizome collection that will mainly be cannas. I can leave them planted here overwinter so I won't need to lift them. I have got some lamprantus cuttings that will also go in when it warms up in the Spring
Thanks again for the reminder about the Coprosmas Spritz, most of the plants are 2 years old, but I am going to mulch them well, I will keep and eye on the weather for hard frosts, but they are pretty rare on the I of W.

24 Nov, 2008


Hi again Andrea, now I've seen your blog and I like it, you certainly have packed a lot of plants into that border.
The Penisetum setaceum Rubrum is not hardy in our climate nor even in the South, you will need to lift and pot it up and keep frost free, It's a cracking grass though.

24 Nov, 2008


Thanks Blue, i'll lift it tomorrow and pop it in the greenhouse with my other plants which I have collected since July, some interesting specimens, watch this space.

24 Nov, 2008


You both have worked really hard, but it's payed off it looks lovelly, well done both of you.

25 Nov, 2008


I couldn't lift the Penisetum setaceum Rubrum because I remembered I had planted several bulbs around it. I have been told that I should cut the grass down to ground level in the Spring and it will grow again from the ground. I think I will give it a chance, I will take some seeds just to make sure

1 Dec, 2008


Mulch over the crown, Andrea. It might well be OK in your area. Fingers crossed.

1 Dec, 2008


Yep, will do, I need to get the bark chippings this weekend, I am a bit penniless at the moment with all the plants I have had to buy for the front

1 Dec, 2008


Andrea, if you have to leave it in the ground, as Barbara said mulch over it, but make sure it's a very thick layer, I still think you will be extremely lucky if it survives in the ground. Good luck with it though.

1 Dec, 2008


I'm so impressed - and a little bit depressed - I don't think I'll be able to match this in my front garden. But it does show what can be done... I like the idea about dividing the gravel from the bark with the little lavenders - I might use that, as lavender does really well here. I hope you'll post some spring photos so we can see how the bulbs look.

Thank you for the challenge and the inspiration!
Happy New Year.

31 Dec, 2008

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