Confession time: our front garden

2015-07-28 11.40.11

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2015-07-28 11.40.07

Oh dear.  It’s not a place to feel proud of.  It’s most definitely a ‘work in progress’, a space for improvement.  Not a pretty sight.  I did warn you!

The bare bone are there, but all we have at the moment are some box hedges (very healthy) enclosing some white-flowering hebes (very healthy), and a lot of bare soil.  There are some large stones that are surplus to requirements and I need to shift them for some other use.

I have a few ideas, but need to make some decisions and would love to have your thoughts and suggestions.

  • I want it to be somewhere that, when people walk past, their heart leaps and they enjoy it
  • I want it to be somewhere I don’t have to work too hard to maintain it
  • I want it to be somewhere I can pick some fruit

What I’ve done so far is to clear out all the weeds and overgrowth that had grown up over the past decade or so.  In the spring, a bid to drastically trim a tall and out-of-control hedge at the front of the garden turned part way through into a sudden decision to remove the hedge completely.  This radically altered the whole space, making us see that the front garden was about 3 foot longer than we ever realised.   It also massively increased the amount of light in the rest of the garden, and in our front (sitting) room.

Earlier this summer I planted what I hope will develop into a productive hedge along the front wall – 4 Chilean Guava plants (the small fruits on this are delicious and have a very unusual flavour) and in the centre a Chaenomeles (Japanese quince), to use the fruits to make the quince jelly I enjoy.  Two of the Chilean Guava plants look like they are struggling to survive the long periods of drought when I didn’t realise that I needed to be watering them (how stupid – obvious really!), but they do still have green leaves and I think there is a chance that they’ll pull through – I’ve had similar experiences elsewhere and the plants made it and gradually gathered strength.

That leaves a deep (about a metre) strip along the side fence (east facing, N/S axis), and another strip alongside the driveway.

For the fence strip, I’m wondering about whether I could plant some fruit trees? (maybe espaliered?)  but I have no idea what would like this east facing aspect.  Alternatively it would be nice to find something evergreen, as we use the front room a lot in the evenings and weekends, and the room has a large bay window.  Whatever we plant along the fence, I think there will be room to underplant it with something else – I’m thinking about a strip of shrubs, something flowering.

For the driveway strip, I’d like to have an abundance of flowers, something really exuberant.  I could do this with a mixed flower bed, which I know would look gorgeous in the summer, but it would look dull during the winter and that would be a shame.  So maybe I should be thinking about some other kind of mixture – perhaps some shrubs and some perennials?  Maybe some roses? (but which ones?)  Or perhaps I should be thinking about a lavender hedge with standard roses as well?

I’m not looking for an instant fix, but it would be nice to think that next year it will look a lot better than it does this year.

I’m planning to wait until the autumn before planting anything, and also to enrich the soil a bit from the lovely compost I’ve made on the allotment.

Do share any suggestions or ideas (suitable for UK climate in the SW please!), I’d love to hear from you.

Just to lift the gloom, here are some street gardens I’ve seen recently that are so much lovelier than ours.

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Hollyhocks, Bruton (Somerset)

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Florist shop display, Bloomsbury (London)

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Tiny garden, Cookham

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Small front garden, near Marlow station

About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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4 Responses to Confession time: our front garden

  1. Sam says:

    Ooh, almost a Blank Canvas! I have a few suggestions: I’d paint the inside of your wall and your side of the fence which would enhance any planting you have up against them (and give you colour if you went for a colour). Espaliered fruit trees are a good idea but I wouldn’t crowd them around their bottoms. Apples prefer full sun but I’m sure there are varieties that cope with partial shade. Cherries would work (they can grow on north-facing walls), as might pears. All need good, deep, fertile soil in a sheltered, frost-free spot. What about a passionflower? These are fast-growing, evergreen and have beautiful flowers. You could sow a wildflower mix along your driveway strip which would be low maintenance but colourful and give much joy to you and passers-by.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam – many many thanks for all these great ideas. A friend (whose garden I admire) also said I should paint the wall, and I can see this would help a lot, so that will be my first step I think. Am still pondering the planing, though beginning to hatch some actual plans (but even they may change by the autumn when I hope to start planting stuff). Thinking time as important as the doing here I think – I’m hoping for a plan that will stick for a few years.


  2. simoneharch says:

    Your box looks very healthy, well done, it’s a really good start I think!! I have a few favourite plants that would look lovely in your front garden – rose Eglantyne (superb scent), lavender, poppies (love a self seeder), sedum for autumn nectar, sweet peas to sweeten your bedroom in the summer, Veronica for their statuesque nature, bleeding heart for early spring…. And of course lots of bulbs and some herbs intermixed such as Rosemary and thyme and mint (well contained).

    I could ramble for longer!! Good luck making your choices, you know if it has leaves and flowers it will be gorgeous!



    • Hi Simone, thanks SO much for all these ideas. I’ve got several of the things you suggest in the back garden already, and agree they are wonderful. I’ve had a few other suggestions too, and am beginning to start to have a kind-of-a plan – I think! more posts on this come the autumn, as I actually do having thought.


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