The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


Front Row

You’ve seen them, front row borders. A straight line that mirrors the front foundation of a house. Usually 1-3 feet wide. Most of the time accentuated with a row of shrubs. Maybe punctuated with an arborvitae at the entrance or corner. Well, I inherited a front row, minus the shrubs, with the exception of what’s now one mother of a barberry. Again, I ask what is there to do on a patch of lawn this size? Aside from mowing it, I mean.

I started with the tiny patch of lawn between the sidewalk entrance and driveway (Spiced Up Sidewalk). Then carried on through to the other side. I threw some curves into the front row. Our porch curves outward and I thought it would be nice to mimic this. I added sambucus black lace next to the barberry. I like the burgundy and dark foliage shades against the stucco of our house. (Hopefully the white paint on the stucco in front will wear off in a few more years – it came that way.)

The front of our house receives full sun all day into the evening. The soil is true clay – rock hard cement that literally cracks when dry, muck that you can literally sculpt when wet. I then connected the other side of the sidewalk entrance to the main bed. I added a little stone shortcut. It has taken me several seasons to get to this point. The soil is still not great but is improving. Silver brocade, snow in summer, lamb’s ear, sea holly and russian sage standout against the dark foliage. A number of different sedums and thymes do well here.

Originally I had planted a cornelian cherry tree here but it just did not like this spot. It is much happier out back. So, I have continued the tapestry of dark, silver / blue, and chartreuse foliages with karl forester grass, blue star juniper, iris, agastache golden jubilee and sedum maestro. There is a wildlife friendly cherry tree seedling in the cornelian cherry’s place that will either “make it or not.”

The plants are now beginning to fill in and weave together. I will continue expanding this bed over time right up to the sidewalk. I envision more sedums, groundcovers, and hardy low growing evergreens but would like to incorporate natives. Not to worry, the inukshuk will show me the way.