The front garden

The view from the front porch

It seems that I have spent most of my time lately on the back garden pergola project and have neglected the front garden. The fact is that it is almost full already with only a few spots left for smaller plants. Plant, plant, plant seems to be the only chore I do lately. Working at a nursery accelerates matters and I keep bringing home plants. I am hopeless! Is there a 12-step program? Someone please sign me up.

But how do I resist such temptations like this Chamaecyparis 'Mariesii' that came in this week?

Chamaecyparis obtuse 'Mariesii'

I took some wide-shot photos this afternoon and while things are looking pretty good, all I see are mistakes and tasks to do in the future. The photo at the top of the page is the view from the front porch. The only plant on the property when we moved in was the 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple at the left. The tree in the center is the Ginkgo that I put in last year.

Note the area on the lower left - this is underneath our living room window. I put a small creek bed here and am still adding plants around it. I did not get a shot of the whole area but here is a close-up which shows the star plant of the moment - Juncus 'Occidental Blue' -

Water flows from the roof to the little creekbed. I want to add a waterfall here with constant moving water. A future project. The shrub at the back is Viburnum davidii which most of my plant friends disparage. This is probably because it is over-planted around the region. You see it in many parking lots. I think it is very pretty and I do love the metallic purple berries it gets but it does have a significant disadvantage and that is it grows extremely slow. Who knows how long it is going to take to reach the bottom of our window? I keep contemplating taking it out but I hesitate.

Out by the gate, the rose 'Dublin Bay' is another slow grower but it seems to have hid its stride this year. It still has a good ways to go before reaching the top of the gate arch.

Rose 'Dublin Bay' and Lavender

The Conifer border

The border running along the front of the house is what I call "The Conifer Border" because it is mainly filled with evergreens.

Looking back toward the front door, you can see the Sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arboretum) which again has fallish-looking foliage. Last year, people told me that it wasn't getting enough water. However, I have been watering faithfully this year and it still has this color. It actually looks healthy though - I don't know, is this normal?

Up next to the house is another border with miscellaneous plants. The red Japanese maple is 'Shaina'. The one behind it was already here when we moved in. It is Acer palmatum ‘Murasaki Kiyohime’ and it is getting rather large and wide. We have already pruned it several times and it just seems to fuel it to grow faster.

The rhododendron next to 'Shaina' is 'Anah Kruschke'  -

A look back down this pathway. This Japanese maple is 'Skeeter's Broom'.

The third border (on the left) runs alongside the fence and the street. 

This border is filled with various trees, shrubs, roses and perennials. This is Rose 'Radway Sunrise' and the spireas 'Orange Rocket' and 'Ogon'. 

Cornus kousa 'Celestial Shadow' is blooming like crazy this year. This poor trees get way too much sun. I am determined to give it more water this year.

And finally, a little vignette at the corner with Dappled Willow (Salix integra 'Hakiro Nishiki'), Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Amber Jubilee'), rose 'Lady of Shallot' and Blue Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo 'Glauca'). The lovely rhododendron in the distance is on the other side of the driveway and is in our neighbor's yard. 

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Looks Gorgeous ! You should have an Open Garden soon !

  2. Your garden has really come together in a few short years. You might have to get a new house with a more spacious garden if you continue to work at the nursery. ;) I have the Celestial Shadow dogwood and it didn't bloom this year. I hope it is healthy. It looks healthy, this is it's first full year in the garden. I hope it blooms next year. Heck I hope it lives! Last year when I planted it we were right in the middle of drought. We got all of last years rain this spring. Here is hoping... Your garden has so many beautiful vignettes and gorgeous plants. Well done.

  3. It's hot hot hot here in Alabama. I yearn for the more moderate temperatures of the Pacific Northwest. Your front garden is lovely. It's a little daunting to think of all the holes you've had to dig, but it all has been well worth it. Thanks for the tour.

  4. "I keep bringing home plants...." LOL. All avid gardeners have this tendency, I see no problem with it, non what so ever. The result is your magnificent garden, which is pure joy, to you and to all who follow your garden adventures. I say: keep it up! You have a wonderful conifer collection, I love it.


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