The Sunny Front Garden
This project was a weedy, overgrown south facing urban front garden. The elderly lady who owned the garden wanted to leave the layout as it was, but asked us to remove the grass and other weeds and replace it with fresh, reasonably low growing, ornamental planting. She particularly liked bright colours, and there were a few existing plants which could be retained.
The garden was very sunny and dry, and our client was not in a position to do any gardening, including watering. She asked us to maintain the garden once a fortnight, so anything we planted had to survive the conditions without being watered regularly.
To give the client a feeling of ownership and participation in the garden, I wanted to involve her in the choice of plants. So, instead of drawing up a planting plan, we took her to a local garden centre where she could choose plants she liked, with a bit of guidance over what would do well in her garden, which she enjoyed. I then chose some more plants, based on what she liked, to fill the space. I chose robust, low maintenance plants, such as Alchemilla mollis, Centranthus ruber and some hardy geraniums. My client had some heathers given to her by her family, so those went in, along with some tulip, daffodil and crocus bulbs. We also planted some strawberry plants, which have provided fruit for a number of years. Amongst the most successful plants were Armeria, which has spread from a small plant to a large weed-suppressing clump with attractive spherical pink flowers; Lavender, chosen by the client, which has also grown dramatically and is full of bees when in flower and delightfully scented next to the path, and Stachys byzantine, also chosen by the client, which has furry silver-grey leaves, making it perfectly adapted to the sunny conditions, and flowers that are loved by bees.
We threw over a packet of Nigella (Love-in-a-mist) seeds, which have self-seeded and spread marvellously. Their decorative seedheads last well into autumn/winter. We have lost some plants, and there have been some surprise successes – Aquilegia has lasted and self seeded in spite of the sunny conditions. There are some wild violets, and the existing Ajuga reptans has survived, along with some existing Vinca minor, and, less surprisingly the pink-flowered Oxalis has spread. We also planted a cowslip, which has benefited from the shade of the Lavender.
The result is an attractive, colourful, informal and wildlife friendly garden that self-seeds and changes throughout the seasons.
The advantage of maintaining the garden on an on-going basis is that we can review what works best, and change the planting over time. The strawberries have reached the end of their lives, and there are many alternative sun lovers that could replace them.
Our client enjoys the flowers, and the wildlife attracted to the garden. She likes to look out on it from the house, and walk round it when she is able to.