Exterior & Garden

Reviving the Front Yard For Spring

This is the second of three posts sponsored by RISE’s AND not OR home and garden program. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The great spring garden cleanup of 2019 has come to completion! I’ve pulled the weeds and have been assessing the garden after our particularly harsh winter. I like most of the garden to be self-sustaining and easy to take care of, but I do enjoy my time working on it! AND not OR has tips tailored to all kinds of gardeners to help you get a game plan together.

Spring Garden Clean Up!
Perennials coming back after winter

The perennials are thriving! I was able to split some of them to use along the wrought iron fence. We have a lot of the varieties from RISE’s list of plants that work well in this area, and looking at it again I’m thinking I’d like to have hollyhock too. Doesn’t that sound like a charming addition to the front of a Victorian?

I monitor our dwarf Alberta spruce throughout the year for spider mites and have to treat it periodically (they’re prone to pests), but it’s fine right now. I’ll be trimming the boxwoods later this month and I cut back as much of the yew as I could reach. It’s probably time to bring in somebody that can lop off the top half and bring it back to a reasonable size. I remember my grandparents yews getting cut down to bare wood and bouncing back beautifully; yews are like that.

The fence borders were filled with creeping charlie. I found the best technique for removal was to take my Japanese garden hoe and run it beneath their shallow roots. This is just one example of how I use The AND Approach to find, solve & prevent using a combination of solutions that work for me based on the problem at hand. Based on peoples’ responses on Instagram, creeping charlie is tenacious! Look at that beautiful weed-free bare dirt. I need to get something planted there before it gets overrun again.

Front Garden in Spring | Making it Lovely

I’ve filled the planters flanking the front walkway and lined up on the stairs with annuals. Sometimes I’ll arrange my own combinations of flowers, and other times I take the easy route and buy the ones that are ready to go. This year I mixed some flower fertilizer into the soil, planted the refill, and called it good.

Scalloped Planters on a Victorian Porch | Making it Lovely

The yews and Annabelle hydrangeas out front continue to fill in nicely! Still babies, but they’re growing.

Victorian House with Front Yard Garden

I’ve added creeping phlox, and a new lily to the yard. I split some of the allium, phlox, and lamb’s ear that was growing on the left side in the flower bed and planted it on the right. Please please please don’t let me forget to add tulips and/or daffodils in the fall so that we have some spring color next year. The houses that have them are so cheery! I want in.

Victorian with Wrought Iron Fence

I also added foxglove, again, which I know is a biennial (and poisonous) plant. I keep trying, but I’ve never had any luck with them reseeding to come back. I think this is the fourth year I’ve planted them. I continue to love them, even if they don’t seem to love me and my garden back. Is there a trick to this that I don’t know?

Foxglove and Perennial Flower Garden

Everything has come together so nicely, but what should I plant in the newly bare section along the fence? I like the idea of a mass planting like the Annabelle hydrangeas on the other side, but they seem too big for this spot.

The Lovely Victorian Garden | Making it Lovely

It’s in full sun. Roses or hydrangeas? Our street sees a fair amount of foot traffic and I worry about thorns at the fence line snagging passers by. Does that push me definitely toward hydrangeas though? The fence will be covered in sweet autumn clematis come late August or September with prolific tiny white flowers, but it’s so empty until the clematis takes off. Lavender was a popular suggestion too. What’s your pick?

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  • Sarah Liou
    May 18, 2019 at 8:31 am

    I think that border is begging for a pollinator-friendly perennial cutting garden! Rudebekia, echinacea, agastache, penstemon…all would be great as a mix or choose one or two to plant en masse for a more “orderly” look. With some research you can find lots of plants that fit the bill, and your garden will benefit the ecosystem as well!

  • Katie
    May 19, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    I feel like lavender would look utterly beautiful – perfect for a fence line and a beautiful color to complement your house colors! Can’t wait to see what you do.

  • Emma at Ironmongery Experts
    May 20, 2019 at 6:54 am

    Sorting the garden out is always a task, but so worth it in the end! We need to find a weekend free when the weather is nice here in the UK – a task in itself – to sort out our own.

    Definitely agree that lavender would look lovely against your fence line and add a pop of colour to enhance your beautiful homes curb appeal.

    Loved reading this and look forward to reading more!

    Best wishes,

    Emma at Ironmongery Experts

  • Katgirl
    May 20, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Hey Neighbor ( I’m on Midway Park ;) ) .. This looks Fantastic!! I love foxgloves and wanted to plant them however I found out that they aren’t good for dogs who like to chew on leaves. The same goes for Yews. I have them in my garden but the Foxgloves apparently would look more tempting. I’ve never seen them move salivate over the yews. I vote for Lavender or Salvia in the sunny part. You can also go with Tranquility roses. They are gorgeous and not as many thorns and would tie in with what you have going. Google Purple Pavement Rose as well. I think it’d go beautifully with what you have going on.

  • judy
    May 20, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    I am not a gardener but I planted a huge bag of mixed daylilies at our last house along a white picket fence and I heard the eventual buyer exclaim when she spied them tall and in full bloom. ” we have to buy this house”. They kept on blooming all year long and came up for the years we lived there. Made me feel like a real gardener. Almost 80 yrs old now so can’t do much-knees are gone.

    • Victoria
      May 22, 2019 at 1:46 am

      Hi Judy
      If you can have someone build some raised beds you can have a little stool to sit on.
      My mum is in her 80s and has been going to balance/dance classes and that’s helped her strengthen her core and keep her joints more supple

  • Kathy
    May 20, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Lavender does not do well in our heavy clay soil. You would not likely have a lot of success with it. How about the new Annabelle Hydrangea called ‘Wee White’. It’s a dwarf version and only gets about 1.5 to 2′ tall.

  • redping
    May 20, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    In my experience Hydrangeas need partial shade at least, plus they tent to get larger than I think you want for that space. I think a florabunda rose variety would look lovely. Iceberg roses look very nice lined up. I would also make the case for planting milkweed in your yard some place. It is really fun with kids especially as they enjoy spotting the monarch caterpillars. Good luck!

  • Sarah
    May 20, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    it’s looking so good!!

  • Theresa
    May 20, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    How about trying catmint? It will be lavender in color, but much more hardy and happy in that area! You’re doing such a great job! Anything will be beautiful!

    • Stephanie Oh
      May 30, 2019 at 9:12 am

      Agreed about catmint! It’d look great in that spot and is relatively easy to care for. Alliums (purple) would also be so fun in your yard!

  • carla
    May 20, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    Beautiful garden, your care and tending have paid off! I think the pollinator garden would be lovely! Maybe consider peonies also, or small lilac bushes -two fragrant, options in keeping with a Victorian garden.

  • JessZ
    May 22, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    I wouldn’t do hydrangeas unless you want something big there. I second the butterfly friendly cutting garden, or another idea is thornless blackberries. My coworker just bought 3 different varieties, one from a big box store that’s a dwarf that he’s using in a similar spot where he doesn’t want it to overwhelm the area. I guess i just imagine passers-by picking a berry or two on their way to work, and how lovely to be THAT house! Whatever you choose will be great, your house looks amazing!

  • Wendy
    May 24, 2019 at 12:25 am

    Your garden is lovely! My husband and I grow foxglove in the Northern California foothills and after a very wet (rain and snow, too) winter, I’m seeing it pop up all over our property! We have collected our own seed in previous years, but now we usually just transplant the volunteers to our preferred locations. They are one of the few plants that the deer NEVER eat, so those tall spikes are a thrill for us! I can’t see why yours won’t reseed…

  • Amy KS
    May 29, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    You will have the most amazing visitors if you plant even one butterfly bush .Daisies, lavender, salvia, or black eyed susans would also be awesome in the front along the fence. I love hydragenas, but they can be aliitle bit tricky to get going.