There was a time when I thought a straight row of standardised roses would be perfect for my front yard. I imagined them full of blooms and how they would make the yard beautiful and romantic and most importantly, very neat. Then, after killing a variety of plants without ever achieving the beautiful, neat look I was hoping for, I decided that a more organic design (translation: an unruly, wild mess) using drought-tolerant plants might be a better approach.
My meticulous plan went like this: plant a bunch of different stuff and see what survives. A few years later we have this:
Ignore the cracked pavers, weeds and overhead power cables. This is the view of our side garden in the front yard. It’s an overgrown mess, but at least some plants are growing. At some point a tree has died and I decided to leave it there to shade the other plants throughout Summer. The brown, decaying corpse adds a little je ne sais quoi doesn’t it?
This eyesore is hiding (shading!) a gigantic clump of agaves. Now that we’re in Autumn I think I can safely remove our attractive “shade sail” without the agaves getting fried. I ripped the dead tree out and spread a thick layer of woodchip mulch over the ground.
So. Much. Better. My 6ft tall agaves are so stunning now that I can actually see them. Plus, I uncovered a few other plants I’d forgotten were there: mother-in-law tongues, purple cannas and a sweet little Robyn Gordon grevillea.
Next to the agaves I have a poor little wedding bush that had to struggle to get any sunlight (because it was shaded by the big tree that eventually died). As a result, the wedding bush is growing sideways at a mad angle and looks rediculous. But … I love it’s tenacity to keep on surviving so I’ve decided the wedding bush can stay.
In the photo above you can see my wedding bush growing sideways near the fence. In the foreground I uncovered a beautiful bushy plant with leaves that are green on top and purple underneath (help me out plant people, what’s the name of this one?? Update: it’s Vitex trifolia purpurea!). I’m hoping I can stake the branches so they’ll grow upwards instead of outwards. I can’t help it, I like my bushes to be tree-shaped with a definite trunk at the bottom and foliage at the top.
Next to the wedding bush and mysterious purple plant we have an out-of-control olive grevillea:
(#3 is weeding the pavers.) This olive grevillea bush desperately needs a trim to give it more of a tree shape. Cutting the lower branches from an overgrown bush is possibly the most instantly gratifying garden job ever.
My grevillea is so tree-like now. The downside is that I can now see the little dividing fence more clearly and it’s riddled with holes but let’s not focus on that. Fences are a project for a whole other lifetime.
This is what I’m left with now. A much more tamed garden bed where you can see the definite shape of each plant. It’s still a work in progress but it’s so much better than a) the bare sand that was here when we first bought the house, b) my dying rose garden, or c) the overgrown mess it was a couple of weeks ago.
It’s a relief to have at least one part of the front yard tidied up. I still have three more garden beds out the front to tame. I’d love to do something fabulous with our front veranda soon too but I can’t seem to decide on a definite plan. We haven’t sat out the front for years so we clearly don’t need a seating area. Maybe a simple bench and a few planters? Let me know – how do I decorate a front veranda that we never use?