Friday, February 28

The Front Line

We only have a small flower bed at the front of the house and this is planned to have some colour all year round. The herbaceous perennials were chosen on the basis of their long flowering period and most have lived up to expectation.

The perennials are under-planted with spring bulbs - mainly short growing varieties to stay in proportion to the bed. 
Each year in order to allow the bulbs to do their stuff, the perennials need to be cut back. As I could spot the bulbs trying to force their way through the greenery I decided the time had come to get handy with the secateurs.

The penstemons have become large thick clumps and I will soon need to divide them. They are definitely a good choice of plant if a long flowering period is a consideration.  The photos below were taken in December.
Some of the hardy geraniums hang on to a sprinkling of flowers throughout the year and also self seed even in the most unlikely places including in any gaps they can find in the paving. The plant in the top photo below is by our front door step and has had a flower for months.
To fill some gaps I planted some antirrinhums which also self seed. Both these and the hardy geraniums will need to be kept in check.


Although I still need to do a bit of general tidying up the bulbs have responded quickly and are now producing their flowers.
Not all the perennials have been as successful as the ones described above. The two rudbeckias started life well but now, although they have produced flowers, for some reason the plants don't grow strongly or produce a good display. However, the biggest disappointment has been aster novae angliae Purple Dome. It is a strong growing plant which produces buds but never seems to manage to come into flower before it begins to go over.

Being a small front garden patch, the plants in this bed have to earn their place so I think I'll move Purple Dome and replace it with a phlox. I'll maybe also add another phlox if I can find a suitable gap. 
The bed still needs a little more of a general tidy up and I'll apply a general fertiliser - maybe fish blood and bone to the ground before the perennials produce more growth and then hope for another good display throughout this coming gardening year.

More photos of this bed and a planting plan are here on my website

32 comments:

  1. The previous owners of our house planted a penstamon in the front garden and it never fails to surprise me how long it flowers for. Great value for the space.

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    1. They are and they come in a great range of colours and sizes, Jenny.

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  2. I'm impressed with how much colour and variety you have there. I'm trying to put a few plants in my completely empty gravel front garden at the moment. Just waiting for the rain to stop...

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    1. I'm glad you think that,CJ as it is what I had planned in my head.

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  3. I have never seen the purplish foliages on your first picture. What's its name? They look so interesting

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    1. The purple leaved plant is heuchera - Purple Palace, Endah

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  4. I'm planning to fill my longer border in the front garden with perennials, I might get one of those job lot orders you see in gardening brochures.

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    1. To be honest I haven't been too impressed with those but I have bought collections which work out cheaper. The penstemon and, geraniums were collections as were the dianthus and phlox which at present are in the cold frame.Hayloft where we have bought collections from have a section called magazine offers where you can access offers without buying the magazines.

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  5. Your penstemons are lovely.. I had some in my garden but they must have died off as they didn't come up last year, I will have to plant some more. I have some hardy geraniums though but the one thing I am lacking in is bulbs..so one of the bulbs we plan to plant later in the year are some crocus, as the bees will love them and there is so little for them this time of the year.

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    1. Bulbs really do earn their keep at this time of the year.

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  6. I've never grown penstemons, they seem to definitely earn their place in your garden flowering for such a long period. I've got some hardy geraniums, mine went on blooming right in to winter too, in fact, they've only recently stopped flowering.

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    1. It seems some hardy geraniums keep flowering longer than others, Jo. In our collection this seems to be the case.

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  7. I'm just contemplating how to apply the VSR principle to flowers now...

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    1. I thought of your VSR when I was writing this Mark,

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  8. I'm finding that penstemons, like hellebores, take a couple of years before they really look their best. Mine, newly planted, didn't do quite so well last year, so I'm hoping this time around they flower for longer. Flowers in December is pretty amazing.

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    1. I had mine in pots for a short time, Jessica so that I could plant decent sized plants They made reasonable growth that first year and really took off in their second year. See the web link in the post as I have photos fro one year to the next.

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  9. My hands were itching and fingers twitching when I saw your bed...oh how I wish we were that far along in Nova Scotia and I could tidy up a bed. As for your penstemons..imagine having them last right into December!! I do love them.

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    1. How long is your gardening season, Bren?

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  10. I love Penstemons but find that they don't last very long, dying at the first sign of frost. Although saying that I have one in a container (waiting to be planted out) that has just about survived.

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    1. How odd, Elaine as ours seem quite hardy. The ones in the front garden were planted in 2011 and so came through the really bad winter. We have a couple in the back garden that have been planted longer than that and also a couple on the plot where it is quite exposed.

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  11. Your front border looks very well planned, Sue, with changes through the seasons. I planted a couple of heucheras in Autumn 2012 which have done well (Palace Purple and Berry Smoothie, a brighter pink). Good to know hardy geraniums need to be controlled, I have one waiting to go into my shady border, although that's a large bed with lots of space to be filled!

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    1. Some varieties of hardy geranium are more prolific than others, Caro

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  12. You do have a lot packed in there, it's amazing how much can grow in a small space. I do like those penstemons, a lovely colour they are.xxx

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    1. That was the idea, Snowbird. There's quite a range of colours of penstemons aren't there?

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  13. Flowers blooming in December...so jealous right now. Pretty daffodils, looks like spring already came to your garden.

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    1. Now all we need is spring weather Leanan

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  14. It's amazing how quickly those bulbs come on once they get a bit of light. I find Penstemons don't do well up here, even ones I've been guaranteed to survive winter, the Rudbeckia are a fussy lot and don't like my garden either!
    I like that you have a nice variety in there Sue - nice to have right outside the door.

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    1. It is, Angie. I;ve always thought of penstemons as hardy!

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  15. Penstemons are lovely plants, I have two I have had for a number of years, and I have just bought two more this spring. In my garden they are evergreen and also flower right up until Christmas.

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    1. They are Helene - we get flowers right through as well and all year green as long as it doesn't snow

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  16. Great to see how your penstemons have coped with this dreadful winter. I have a couple which went in last year so it will be good to see how they develop.

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    1. Other than being soggy we haven't had it too bad this year. Jayne. The penstemons have survived worse winters.

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