Saturday, January 30, 2016

End of Month View - Front Yard Side Bed

This year I want to try again to participate in Helen's from The Patient Gardener's Weblog End of Month View meme. Last year I joined by featuring my White Garden Bed and I felt it was extremely helpful to blog about that bed at the end of each month and document the changes. My White Garden Bed has really benefited from being so closely looked at. Unfortunately I fell of the wagon in July and didn't continue to post about the White Garden Bed anymore. Hopefully this will not happen this time around!  

For this year I have set myself a real challenge. I have decided to choose the side bed in our front yard for the End of Month View meme. This is one of my most difficult areas to garden in for the following reasons. The bed is very narrow and therefore difficult to plant. As if this wasn't enough at the left side are growing two mature Queen Palms that suck up a lot of water and nutrients that are meant for the other plants. Because the bed is surrounded mainly by concrete it is getting very hot in the summer.

The bed lies on the right side of our front yard and is part of the first thing that you see of our house and garden. So, of course, you want it to be as pretty and interesting as possible. I hope that if I make a concentrated effort this year, that I can improve its look.

What has happened already is that I took out 'Sweetness', a lavender colored Hybrid Tea rose, that was planted the closest to the Queen Palms, because it couldn't withstand the root competition with the palms anymore. I substituted this rose last month with 'Charles Darwin', a vigorous Shrub Rose bred by David Austin and hope that this rose will be more successful in this location.

On the right side of the bed there was also still some grass growing, which was taken out. The grass was very hard to maintain in the drought that we are having. It was also difficult to mow and edge, since you can't really operate a mower properly in such a small space. Last but not least I always found that it looked out of place, because it was just a tiny patch.

This photo shows a frontal view of the bed with the two Queen Palms. Just last week we had the palms trimmed. Old brown palm fronds where removed and the palms was limbed up. They look a little naked right now, but new fronds will grow in no time and the palms will appear more full, again.

Besides the palms there are only three other plants growing in the bed right now. The before mentioned soft yellow 'Charles Darwin' rose. At this point I am not even sure if this rose is growing or dying. It is a little suspicious that the rose is not leaving out since the transplant in December. But time will tell soon, if it will make it or not.

Then there is alstroemeria 'Little Miss Sophie'. A beautiful dwarf light pink/white flowering alstroemeria.

And in the foreground is the light pink flowering Floribunda rose 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' planted.

In the very front of the bed is a "lovely" utility lid that houses the water meter, which to be honest is a real eyesore. The middle of the lid needs to be kept open since the person who reads our water meter needs to have access to it. But my idea is to plant something that covers the lid from the side, so that it is at least partly hidden and not so in your face anymore.

If you look closely at the photo you can see the mulch and then in the foreground soil that is lighter in color. This is where the grass had been growing that was removed.

So here is my initial plan for what should happen with this bed. First the irrigation has to be checked and if necessary repaired. There is definitively a new sprinkler needed to the right front side of the bed. The remaining grass in the back of the bed will be removed, too. The bed has to be well fertilized to green up the Queen Palms and to provide nutrients for the existing plants to grow despite the competition with the roots of the palms. The alstroemeria will be removed since it goes completely dormant in the heat of summer and just leaves an empty spot in the bed and will be replaced with another rose. I am debating with me if I take out 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' as well, the rose in the very front, because it suffers from powdery mildew each year when the conditions are right and frankly I am sick of that. But on the other hand it is an established rose in this bed and it is a very prolific bloomer. So something to ponder...

Please hop over to see what Helen's garden and other gardens over the world look like at the end of this January. I am sure it will be an interesting read!

See you in the garden!



  1. The palms are beautiful, but I can see the challenge of this area. Best wishes! I hate when a necessary eyesore interferes with my garden. A VERY ugly power pole, leaning slightly to one side and topped with a transformer and an assortment of wires, juts up in the middle of my garden. What would we do without it, however? I look forward to seeing how you develop your side bed!

    1. Deb, I find it particularly difficult to deal with these utility eyesores when a garden is as small as our front yard is, but when I get into a complaining mood I remind myself how lucky I am, that I even have a garden and I am determined to make the best out of it. I hope that these meme helps me with that.

  2. I'll be interested to see what you do with the area, Christina. I see that your neighbor made it easy on him/herself by just throwing down some rocks! I'll be sad to see the 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' rose go if you decide to pull it but I understand that a constant problem with mildew is hard to live with. Have you considered ornamental grass of some kind or succulents? (Of course, you know I'm hung up on succulents!)

  3. Das erinnert mich jetzt gerade an die Pflanzen im Urlaub. Da gab es viele Palmen. Wie alt ist die deine?


    1. Sigrun, my guess is that the Queen Palms are ten to twelve years old. They came with the house when we bought it and they don't seem to be part of the original landscape that most likely the developer put in. Honestly, Queen Palms grow here like a weed, but to make them look nice and green they need to be fertilized. I really have underestimated the appetite of these palms!

  4. Espero verlo más adelante. Las palmeras son preciosas. Besitos.

  5. I hope the new rose will be fine." Charles Darwin " is such a gorgeous option. Waiting to see the transformation of your front yard side bed. New ideas are always needed :) Happy gardening, Christina !

  6. Our climates are so very different, I wouldn't know where to start. Something drought tolerant surely in such tricky conditions? I have serious palm envy. It will be very interesting to see what you decide to do.

  7. Liebe Christina,
    das ist sicher immer ein Versuch wie nah Pflanzen
    beieinander sich vertragen :-) Jedenfalls ist es wunderschön bei euch.
    Hoffentlich wird es nicht wieder so extrem trocken.
    Für so ein Video brauch ich ca. 30-40 min - da muss ich die Geschwindigkeit ganz schön vervielfachen :-) Dankeschön für deine lieben Worte dazu.
    Ganz viel liebe Sonntagsgrüße
    sendet dir Urte :-)

  8. Pour cet espace je verrai des végétaux à feuillage persistant dans des couleurs différentes. Une santoline par exemple qui réclame un sol sec et des buis à feuillage vert et doré ou l'eunonymus vert et argent.vous pouvez mettre aussi la lavande Hidcote blue pour sa longue floraison dans un bleu soutenu.
    Belle soirée...jocelyne

    1. Jocelyne, I like the idea of planting santolinas and/or lavenders. Both should work here! I have never grown lavender 'Hidecote Blue', but I would like to try out that variety. Thanks for your suggestions!

  9. The palms are stunning, such a strong vertical architectural accent growing next to your house I love them. What would I plant here? I think a blue colour scheme would look great against the white of your house. Would agapanthus do or are they too thirsty. Their strappy foliage may help to hide the utility meter. Love Kris P's succulent suggestion too and you can't go wrong with lavender. I'm sure you will enjoy deciding.

  10. I have never heard of Our Lady of Guadalupe rose? I'll make sure to look for one this spring at my local nurseries.

    It's hard sometimes to keep a beautiful flower bed
    I'm visiting you from Bernideen's Tea Party post

  11. Goodness that is a challenging little space to plant up! I definitely think you did the right thing in getting rid of the grass. Maybe some drought tolerant evergreen grasses or sedges would provide year round interest and movement and complement the roses? I look forward to seeing what you do.

  12. I can't wait to see this little garden develop. Maybe you can use some plant ideas of the garden you posted recently? Furthermore I would recommend some grey foliaged plants. These are all very drought resisted. You can do it! Succes and groetjes, Hetty

  13. I love these trees. You have a fun project just ahead. Could you put a pot planter on top that water meter cover? I am so pleased to have you link!

  14. Dear Christina, I think I remember your front garden bed from one of your videos when you had started digging a hole for the new rose. I can appreciate the work involved especially after moving to this garden where everything is clay and digging a hole is seriously hard work!
    I was admiring your alstroemeria, I have had good success with mine, it is still flowering, never stopped since I got it 18 months ago, but I have only one and would like several more in different colours. How many plants of 'Little Miss Sophie' did you need to get the spread in your photo and how big plants did you buy?
    It’s always a dilemma with roses that gets mildew – keep or get rid and get something more disease resistant. I have roses I just love so much I can’t get rid of them, and I choose to spray with Miracle-Gro Fungus Clear Ultra a few times a year and that keeps the mildew at bay as well as the blackspot.
    I hope you put in something colourful and long lasting in your bed, there are so many plants that can cope with a hot, sunny and dry bed – at least it would be over here, I would have filled the rest of your bed with poppies, salvia, iris and sedums – and perhaps some Helianthemum - an all year round flower explosion.
    I look forward to seeing how your front garden will develop over the year – I should probably do the same for my EOMV posts, I haven’t even STARTED on my front garden so perhaps next year :-)
    Take care, Helene.

    1. Helene, I have come to like alstroemerias more and more as they are also very long blooming plants here in Southern California even though they don't bloom year round.
      To answer your question: My alstroemeria 'Little Miss Sophie' is just one plant that spread itself out within two to three years. It was even bigger, but when our drain in this bed was clogged and the gardener repaired it, he stepped quite a bit on poor 'Little Miss Sophie' and the alstroemeria hasn't come back in that part of the bed. I bought it in a two to three gallon container, so it was a relatively small plant to begin with. When I dig out the alstroemeria to transplant it to the backyard I will divide the clump and would be happy to give you part of it, but over the pond that is not really feasible ;-). I hope you find some lovely varieties for your garden this year!

    2. I would have been happy to receive a piece of your lovely 'Little Miss Sophie', but I don’t think the customs on either side would have approved! I had to giggle when I read “I bought it in a two to three gallon container, so it was a relatively small plant to begin with.” SMALL?? I usually buy my plants in 0.5 or 1 litre containers to keep cost down, 3 gallons is 13.6 litres, that’s a HUGE alstroemeria!

      I have actually made a wish-list of alstroemerias for a specialist alstroemeria nursery here, I hope to buy as many as I can from this list soon, they come as 0.7 litre plants so rather small – or tiny, but tiny plants grow big eventually:

      Alstroemeria "Duchess Louise"
      Alstroemeria "Princess Theresa"
      Alstroemeria "Little Miss Lucy"
      Alstroemeria "Inticancha Navayo"
      Alstroemeria "Inticancha Dark Purple"
      Alstroemeria "Inticancha Passion"

      The last 4 will look nice together, the first 2 will go together with the one I already have. They deliver in April so hopefully I will get most of them, Google my list and I know you will like them :-)