This is part of a mid-summer review series with an overview and evaluation of each garden area, including the right front border, left front border, side border, both front entrances, the rose garden, the "garden-to-be" and all the containers.
When I moved in nearly nine years ago the right front border included azaleas and vinca. The house had been vacant for several years, so everything yard- and garden-wise was pretty out-of-control. The azaleas were severely sparse and misshapen, but I didn't want to get rid of them. I love azaleas -- they're absolutely gorgeous in bloom, that's all there is to it. So I've been pruning and nursing them along for years now. They're still misshapen but they've filled in quite a bit and I want to keep them if I can. The vinca is a great ground cover and just needs frequent pulling back to keep it from taking over. But I'm getting ahead of myself.... Here's a photo of the overview:
The garden components include: azaleas, vinca, forget-me-nots, salvia 'Victoria Blue,' catmint 'Walker's Low,' sedum, liriope, a mystery purple shrub, gaura 'Pink Fountain,' speedwell (Veronica), sedum, hens & chicks, dwarf lobelia, artemesia 'Silver Mound,' and campanula (bluebells).
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The left side features the salvia 'Victoria Blue,' which is new this year and was reviewed in-depth in this post. In front of the salvia are blue forget-me-nots that have spread beautifully since they were given to me several years ago, and which I've also divided to include in the left front bed. Vinca fills out the back portion of the garden nicely. I like the way it spills over the edge, cottage-garden style.
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The middle is dominated by liriope that has grown a lot since I put it in a few years ago. (There's more info in the Four Stages of Liriope post.) I love the look of the liriope, but I realize it's getting to the point where it will need to be divided so it doesn't overtake this bed. In front, between the azalea and the liriope, is the catmint, which is new this year. I realize it won't stay in this location long, because it will get too big. It will most likely go into the garden-to-be when I create it. Behind the liriope is the gaura (you can just barely see the delicate pink blossoms floating over the liriope), the mystery purple shrub and the speedwell -- all new this year. I have to re-think the speedwell's location, because it sticks up in a funny way. I wanted to add some height to this border, and it accomplishes that, but it might look better at the left end, so that the highest point is by the front door and the height line gradually curves down to the right. If the gaura really fills out, it will look nice here. If it remains sparse and delicate, I'll move it so it can be seen better and fully appreciated. It's one of my very favorite new plants. (For a closer view, click here or here.)
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This view of the right side of the border shows the vinca, in the back along the wall, and the liriope, along with (left to right) sedum, hens & chicks, lobelia, and silver mound. Behind the silver mound is a bit of campanula. I anticipate that the sedum might eventually get too tall for this spot and need to be moved.
The lobelia was purchased among a group of white plants that I put in my rose garden -- but when some of the buds opened up the color was a surprise and definitely didn't fit the rose garden's pink-white-green color scheme! So I moved it here and they provide a nice spot of color plus a lovely draping effect with the hens & chicks. Lobelia didn't get a very good review in my rose garden overview, but I give it five stars in this location! Here's a closer look:
The silver mound I put in a number of years ago. I like it as a corner or edging plant so people can touch it easily. It is one of the most pleasantly tactile plants I know, and for that reason I've thought it would be great in a kids' garden.
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This shot from the end of the border shows (thumbs down) the sparsity of the azaleas, which you can see right through, and (thumbs up) how full the garden is overall. I appreciate the variety of foliage types. I keep reading that you need to buy and enjoy plants for their foliage because that's what you see most of the time. And I think that's one of the assets of this garden.
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FUTURE PLANS: Continue to nurse the azaleas along, but realize there may come a point when I have to take these out and start fresh with new azaleas or put something else in. I'd like the front borders to look nice since the house is in a neighborhood where the front yards and gardens are seen by the neighbors and people walking/driving by. It's not a competitive thing -- I'd just like to provide something beautiful for people (including me!) to enjoy. I'd like to add some more color with annuals next year. Move out the catmint to another location when the time (size) is right, and possibly also the gaura. Consider moving the speedwell to the left end of the border to create a curving height line. Divide the liriope and consider adding some to the left front border to create more symmetry between the two gardens. Move the salvia out (if it survives the winter) and try something else in that spot next year. Overall, this garden has come a long way in recent years with some wonderful new additions this season. It just needs some refining touches that will be fun to plan and implement.
Note: More info and photos on the speedwell and catmint (including plant tag details) can be found in the New Additions from the Parking Lot Sale post. More info and photos on the sedum, mystery purple shrub and campanula can be found in the Plant Swap - Part 3 (Front Borders) post. As I look at those photos I see how much everything has grown since then. Yahoo!