Front yard garden

I have a large front yard garden in addition to the herb and rose gardens, shrubs, and mixed beds in the backyard. The front garden gives me the greatest joy because it encourages people to stop and talk to me. From spring through autumn, it has something of interest.    

The perennial (cranesbill) ‘Rozanne’ geraniums bloom continually from late spring through late fall.  They wind through any open space providing color throughout the growing season. The flowers are a violet blue with a white eye. They are sterile, meaning they don’t produce seeds, but they do attract insects because they produce nectar. Other perennial geraniums include Max Frei Bloody cranesbill and purple cranesbill, which have modestly rebloomed since I cut them back this past June. The Madagascar geraniums don’t rebloom, but the leaves provide a lovely ground cover.  

The leaves of heucheras (coral bells) are valuable as foliage plants.  I love the different color leaves.  Shabby looking? Snip off the spent leaves and leaf regrowth occurs. The plants are short-lived unless divided in the spring.

The native grass Chasmanthium latifolium, sea oats, has lovely seed heads that turn brown.  It attracts butterflies.

The three rose bushes did well.  Leaf cutter bees cut some semi circles from the leaves but caused no real damage. As a pollinator species, leaf cutter bees are welcome. They use the pieces of cut leaves as nest cells for the next generation of bees. The rose bushes were fed an organic fertilizer in early spring.    

The big leaf hydrangeas bloomed again this year due to a mild spring that did not freeze the flower buds formed last September. I planted begonias in pots to fill in spaces after the “Ruby Red” day lily clumps finished blooming. This year, I planted caladiums—red, white, green, and multicolored under the crimson clump maple. I put little sticks near them so I can dig up the tubers for overwintering after a killing frost. 

There were also dahlias. I prefer the ones with simple daisy-like flowers because bees and other pollinators can access the pollen and nectar. The showy dinner-plate dahlias are lovely; there are several in the garden, but I really don’t fancy them. The dahlia tubers also need to be dug up and stored.  

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy,’ a garden staple, oregano flowers, and the annual perilla provided pollinator species with more food.  On warm days, these plants were covered with insects. (I love hearing the “buzz” of insects at work.)

The pink colchicum flowers suddenly appeared as they do each autumn. They send up strap-like leaves in the spring that disappear by summer. It is always a delightful surprise when the flowers appear. The saffron crocuses, relatives of irises, also appear in the autumn. I confess I find them so pretty that I always forget to collect the filaments that comprise the expensive saffron spice you buy in a store! 

The perennial hibiscus put on a wonderful show this year in red, pink, and white. I didn’t find any Japanese beetles on them this year. Hurray! This year, for the first time, I pinched back the shoots above a set of leaves when they were about six inches tall.  (I understand that this can be repeated several more times before the Fourth of July—maybe next year.)  The pinching produces fuller plants.

I groomed the spring flowering plants including tiarella, brunnera, pulmonaria, lily of the valley, dropseed, and ligularia if they became ratty looking.  They are still lovely even late in the season.

As I write this, the fifty-plus-year-old crabapple tree is covered with thousands of fruits that are turning red. Winter weather changes their chemistry making them edible for many bird species in the spring. I love this tree. In the late spring, pink buds open to white flowers. Lichen growing on the branches shows its age; losing this tree would not only open up an area in the garden but also break our hearts.

The crimson clump maple in the front bed is turning red.  It has taken years to get established but it’s presently flourishing.

These are not all the plants in front of the house but represent some favorites.  I look forward to the glory of the snow, daffodils, camassia, and lupines of next spring.

I love hearing from you: 

Carol Ann Harlos is an award-winning retired math and science teacher, Master Gardener, beekeeper, writer, and speaker. She tends extensive gardens, including herbs, and loves learning from others and sharing her knowledge.


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