Posted by: jsmcfadden | June 11, 2011

Front Garden at its Best

I think this is the prettiest this planting bed has ever looked. It’s as close to my imagined garden as ever, for sure. Maybe even it’s as close as possible to my dream garden.

It’s so full.

It’s lush, blooming, crowded, even. And there are buds still to open in the back, to the eastern edge, and in front of/underneath the pink Breath of Heaven.

So despite my grumps at the length of the overcast/chilly/rainy season we had in Northern California this year, I must admit there are wonderful benefits of that rain. And the gloom of January, February, March, April, May and the first week of June is now producing  joyful blossoms, and lots of both joy and flowers!

Here are some details for you:

On the eastern edge of the planting bed, just before the everlasting junipers take over, is this little picture. What gorgeous color in these little beauties pops out of the pittosporum background and greys of the rocks in front of them.

What bulb is producing those thick spears?? Can’t remember!

It’s so fun to keep checking every morning to see if blooms will reveal what we planted there a couple of years ago!

Moving backward from those little purple cuties, alongside the pittosporum are these giants. They’re nearly waist-high! I think they’re dahlias, but maybe not.

But they’ve got buds — these giants have buds! I know the flowers have got to be huge, because look at what strong stems & leafy support they require! Here’s what the buds looked like yesterday evening. Isn’t it exciting?

If you know for sure what these are from the photos, will you please let me know in the comments? 

In the first photo of the Giants, you can see the remaining Mexican Primroses, whose foliage is turning the reddish rusty orange color I don’t like. Earlier this week I got a little destructo-minded and pulled out a bunch of them. They spread like crazy so I know I’m only getting rid of them for the time being.

I love the Japanese Boxwoods which serve as the backdrop for the planting bed! Lots of the time, people shave these shrubs into strict shapes, like kids who use their crayon to outline everything they color, and then they MUST stay inside the lines.  I love the way John trims the boxwoods every year so they don’t look boxy at all, but spread and expand as they’d like to. When a breeze catches them, and the giants, and the primroses, and the pink breath of heaven … it makes me want to upgrade my blog to include video!!

Now back up and go back to the front, by the rocks and the little purple beauties — a cosmo is popping up! I thought all of those died out last fall — and yet, here’s one a-blooming, which the breeze blew into my shot of whatever bulb is sending up its thick spears.  I love the way the cosmo waves in the breeze, too.

Aren’t these the prettiest geraniums ever? They’re mildly frilly, yes, but not too much. They are  determined. Their strong, clear colors remind me of peppermint sticks. There are two of them in the front planting bed, and another on in front of the side yard fence, next to the other purple petunias. This is the most flowering I’ve ever seen them do, and they’ve been going strong for a month!

Toward the street from those beautiful peppermint geraniums, though, are the current stars of the garden. These drifts of yellow and purple mums have burst open in the last week. They had been low green shrubs, plumping each day for several weeks, then they were suddenly, it seemed, covered with tiny buds. Then the purple ones started to open, and the next day the yellow ones started to open, and now there’s a beautiful swath of each color drawing eyes from the front toward those pretty geraniums.

Hiding among them, though, is a delicate shy beauty: the light pinkish-purple calla. It’s not lavender, and it isn’t lilac colored, either. Here it is — isn’t it just lovely? For a couple of weeks now its shoots have been snuggling up to the sturdy mum shrubs to its west and south. Then earlier this week, it raised its delicate head and smiled. Isn’t it sweet the way this one modestly turns away from the street, facing into the shrub behind it? It has sisters who aren’t quite as shy over a few inches, which I’ll show you later.

These tall puffy globes of color were HUGE last year, and I cut them way back in the winter. Their stems near the ground are woody and follow the ground for several inches, and then loom upwards. The puffy balls of petals open all at once, after the stems have grown as tall as they’ll be. Then the buds grow and sway and sometimes bend with the concentrated weight of all the flowery goodness. Until they seem to pop open, exploding out all the thin petals in a globe.

Last year, it was mostly white blooms, but this year so far we’ve got mostly these gorgeous deep purple blooms. They’re tall, obviously, and move wonderfully in the breeze, and seem to hide some of the garden from the street. I like that, and it brings movement out near the rocks and sidewalk and street.

Here’s the photo of the week, of the beautiful calla sisters. They remind me of Greek sculpture.



  1. I really love what you’ve done with that space near the street. The variety and placement make it an explosion of floral delight. You’ve given all the neighbors such a treat. I hope it inspires them to want to take pride in the neighborhood and maybe even participate in a little friendly competition.

    • Thanks, honey.

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