Reclaiming The Front Garden

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  ~ Lao Tzu


My garden has become a chore over the last few years.  Weed, grass and wildflower filled, it has lost its shape and feel.  And I lost my connectedness to my garden as well with not being intimately involved with it.  Trying to reclaim it and get a handle on the wildness became an impossible task, and one I almost walked away from.
But I decided to give it one more try.  To do this I had to find the right attitude to attack the issues which were many.

So I found when I approach any creative task with a playful attitude, it becomes much more satisfying.  With that playfulness, comes more of an interest in what I am doing, and I am able to stick with the task or project for the long-term.  This has helped especially this year working in the garden.  Keeping the playful spirit alive has made the tedious tasks more enjoyable when I was able to garden.



So this is the small front garden that borders the sidewalk and driveway to the left of the front door.  This was later spring when echinacea, iris and verbascum were beginning to bloom.  I decided to work in this bed first to get some control before attacking the other side of the sidewalk.



The front of the bed was looking much more like a garden after I weeded it the third time this spring.  Sage and lavender (above) also beginning to bloom.



I was overjoyed to see some volunteer sage to spread it around.



There are hydrangea, daylily and poppy about to bloom as well.



Columbine fading and violets done…..agastache and balloon flowers still growing.  This is the only part of the sidewalk garden I was able to reclaim before my back was injured, and I had to stop gardening for 4 months. 



Fast forward to late October…..I had one more weeding session in this garden.  I did make sure I trimmed the dwarf willows on either side of the porch.  This bed still needs soil/compost added, and mulch, but I am pleased with the plants that I added or moved around.  As I needed time to weed the other bigger part of the sidewalk garden, I had to move on, and decided to amend and mulch this garden next spring.



After several days of weeding between the raindrops, I was able to clear out the other bed of weeds, grass, volunteers and overgrown plants.  And in early November, both gardens that border our sidewalk were cleared.


Here’s another view….



The long garden on the outer side of the sidewalk has many smaller gardens and views.  As I stand on the driveway and gaze down this long garden, I see echinacea seed heads left for the finches, lavender still with that beautiful bluish foliage, a dwarf red rose still blooming, the dwarf forsythia just beginning to get a purple tinge to their leaves, but few have fallen.



This unnamed carpet rose was such a wonderful surprise to see blooming so late in fall.



And I love seeing the forsythia put on its fall colors….isn’t this an amazing array of colors.



Stepping to the other side of the forsythia, you can see more of the bones with boxwood and potentilla.



Past those shrubs as I move down there is little left here….a fairy rose, daylily, a few echinacea and agastache, 2 variegated Weigela shrubs, a bit of phlox, violets and a clematis.  This is where the fun will be come spring….deciding on what plants should be added here.



And if we look at this same spot from the sidewalk view, there are also a few columbine, dwarf iris and lilies.  This whole long garden needs to be edged better, lots of soil needs to be added and then once planted it needs mulch.  But that probably won’t happen until late summer/early fall.  I will need to weed it several times throughout spring, summer and fall to get rid of the majority of weeds that have invaded the gardens for a few years unchecked.



A week after I finished this front garden, the snow storms came…..3 storms leaving 2 feet of snow burying my garden. These storms snuck up on us leaving me dazed as I had so much left to do.  I wanted to get out and draw a sketch of the 2 gardens, noting the plants already there and adding the many bulbs in spring.  I am hoping for a thaw so I can get this sketching finished.  It is important so I can plan the redesign before spring.  But the garden is happy to be nestled beneath that warm blanket of snow.



The Last Vases From The Garden


The rose that was still blooming has been so resilient surviving weeds, rabbits and voles.  So of course I had to cut it and bring it in to enjoy.



Most of the hydrangeas were turning red and green, but there were 2 small ones just blooming.  I wanted to put them with the last of my green tomatoes that had ripened.  Good thing I rescued these flowers as the 2 feet of snow and frigid temps in the 20s would have killed them quickly.


I am joining Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful In A Vase on Monday meme. The pictures shared here were created with my iPod Touch camera and two free apps, Pixlr and Prisma.

I am posting poetry, almost weekly on Sundays, on my other blog, Living From Happiness.  You can read my latest poem here.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2018.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

34 Replies to “Reclaiming The Front Garden”

  1. Snow! Well, that is the deciding factor isn’t it Donna? You are finished for this year … but, it is a nice fertilizer. I know the work involved and I’m over here giving you high fives! You have wonderful, wonderful plants. I have to say, although I sometimes pine for the Violet Fern garden, I do not miss it. I am excited about my little baby garden in the woods. Paradise South, however, is another matter. It will take some time to turn into a garden. The great thing about Paradise South, though, is that I can work on it all winter long (as is preferred)!

    1. Snow sure was the deciding factor Kathy! But we are melting more today with a high of 40….cold for the rest of the week but with 40 for a high this weekend and rain, we will melt so I can see the garden and do my drawings and inventory. I might even sneak in a bit more weeding. Can’t wait to see more of your southern project and see how your baby garden in the woods is doing next year. I would like to do a bit of gardening in winter I think. I would prefer it to the heat of summer.

  2. Good work redoing your front garden beds! I’m in the middle of redoing mine as well, after a couple of years of neglect because of health issues. It doesn’t take much for the garden to get away from you.

    1. No it doesn’t take much Alison…so I will send you healing thoughts for your project as well. I still have loads to do especially weeding, but am excited to see some headway. Hoping for renewed health and energy for the project in spring when I can start, but I am taking it slow.

  3. Oh your philosophy of getting in tune with your playful spirit before tackling tedious tasks sounds a good one to adopt Donna. I hope that the snow retreats enough for you to finish your sketching. Your rescued vases of flowers and the last of the crops are both so warming to look at on what is a cold day here, albeit as not as cold as it is in your neck of the woods.

    1. It is melting today as we have warmed to 40 which we weren’t expecting and it seems with some rain and 40 degree temps by the weekend we may thaw enough for my inventory and drawings. Stay warm Anna!

  4. Thanks for sharing all the views of your garden earlier in the year – you did a great job with your clearing and I hope you get the thaw that gives you time to do an inventory so you can plan for next year. Your two little vases are so pretty and will hopefully remind you of a past season while you sit out the snow

    1. I hope to have better views and drawings/plans by spring to share. I am doing a similar slower clean up of the 2 side gardens as well but they will take a bit longer it seems. We are slowly thawing a bit this week and I think I may be able to get enough of a thaw to do my drawings. Maybe I’ll find another surprise under the snow for another little vase!

  5. Wow. Loving your garden. Mine has got away from me (again) and as our weather lurches towards summer it will escape even further.
    This too will pass, and my slow learning self will be back grubbing in the dirt..

  6. Gardening is a lot of work and having an attitude of playfulness does make it seem less heavy. I try to release the ‘get it done’ attitude, because in reality we will never be done as it is the way of nature to always change and grow. The snowstorm last week took us by surprise as well. With so much rain, many chores never got done, so I’ve had to let go of that, too. The snow puts me in the Christmas mood, so I’ve started my holiday decorating, the window box getting its greens and berries before the birds ate them all.

    1. I agree that I had to release the same attitude. The snow has gotten me into the holiday mood too so I hope to start decorating soon. I can’t wait to see what you created.

  7. Gardens take a lot of work but you’ve definitely got the right attitude. I bet you can do a lot of your planning just by looking at the wonderful photos you’ve shared in this post. In the meantime, the snow looks beautiful! There are many times I wish I could cover selected areas of my garden in a blanket… 😉

    1. Yes I will resort to pictures to start my diagrams Kris. I do love the blanket of snow in winter. It really protects the plants.

  8. I think the secret is to always keep at it and not to let it go to far because nature is much stronger than we are and will soon take over. Well done for tackling a bit at a time and for finding pleasure again. 🙂

  9. Sometimes we tend to take on way to much, especially when it comes to things that we love, such as our gardens. We want more beds to grow more flowers and veg, etc., but then realize that more beds also means more work and there are only so many hours in the day. I made a lot of progress this year, but, like you, didn’t get to everything. That’s ok, though – next year will bring with it a bit more progress.

  10. During each season your garden gives so much…just imagine how much pleasure your front garden gives to passers by. The garden is there to please you….as you tend it you realize the beauty you have assembled.

  11. Looks like you’ve been very busy and you will reap the benefit in spring. Apart from it looking so good now of course. I’ve found a couple of beds are much bigger than they looked when I started clearing as I hadn’t done the edges for a few weeks (months). It’s lovely to see all the pictures.

  12. Glad you found a way to tackle the garden – Evidently you felt quite overwhelmed perhaps because your garden grows so well.- rather too well it must seem so putting some of the fun back in to the labours is bound to bring out the love.
    I like the balance of the 2 trees either side of the door – the last rose before winter and all that effulgent Sage

    1. Oh indeed it does grow well Laura….native wildflowers and weeds seeding profusely as I was unable to get to them and keep them under control for the last few years.

  13. We had a sprinkling of snow too, but nowhere near as much as you! Hope you get a warmer spell before winter really sets in. And glad you could rescue that rose!

  14. It’s not easy to reassert control over a garden gone a little too wild. Looks like you made an enormous amount of progress. I’m looking forward to seeing how your garden evolves next spring.

  15. No it is not easy as my body can tell you….there will still be lots of cleaning up in spring before some planting and then more planting in fall.

  16. “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes, tell me about it. Looks like you have gotten over your no gardening phase Donna and everything is looking absolutely tickety-boo.

    1. Thanks Alistair. You always make me smile. I was able to clean up the weed infested front gardens in a few weeks. Now we are into winter far too early.

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