The Front border
When we first arrived at Greendale the only real semblance of a garden was at the front of the house. A narrow, sleeper-lined bed went from the edge of the garage along the veranda to the front door. A pathway led from the drive to the front door, and to the right of the path was another bed. It widened out at the front of the house outside the formal lounger into a largish rectangular garden.
The planting was a mess. Ivy had been put in as a ground cover, growing around some sad roses in the large garden. A native black wattle, always the earliest to regrow in paddocks, had taken up residence in a corner. Along the house front the rhododendrons and hydrangeas (never pruned) competed with the ivy. A gum tree had recently self-seeded and was nearing the height of the gutter. Next to the footpath the shrubs had become a hedge.
Job one was to clear. I spent days pulling out the ivy. The stuff is okay growing up a wall where it can be controlled, but not as a ground cover. The hedge came out, too. I wanted to be able to see the view. In that first year, we planted tomatoes in the newly cleared bed next to the path, but the intention had always been an ornamental garden. We kept the plants we wanted – an Erica which provided much-needed Winter colour, an oleander, a dwarf callistemon (little john) and a couple of large fuchsias, along with the hydrangeas, rhodies, and azaleas. I moved the roses.
We had two microclimates here: the deep clay and shade in the bed immediately next to the house, and the sunnier bed with better drainage where the tomatoes were planted. We also decided to get rid of the large rectangular bed, pave it, and add a formal, rectangular water feature with edges where people could sit.
One of the few things we didn’t do ourselves was cobblestone paving, and construction of the pond. We paid a contractor to do that for us.
The planting for the front bed became traditional English cool weather. The rhododendrons and hydrangeas were joined by more hydrangeas, azaleas, and roses for the Summer, with lambs ears and ajuga reptans as ground cover. I also planted aquilegia, tulips, foxgloves, day lilies, Japanese windflowers and others to provide an all year display. But again, the bed was at its best in Spring and Summer.
As it happened, some of the bushes we planted did end up being something of a hedge. We had to trim it back regularly. But that was okay – they fitted into the bigger picture. I expect if we’d stayed, some of them might have been removed. Gardening’s like that.
We added new beds, too. Pete had always envisaged a circular driveway, with a feature tree in a circular bed in the middle. So we created new beds around the paddock edge of the drive, with a gap to allow the mower access to the paddock. This area became my rose garden. Every year I bought ranunculus and anemones and mass planted them under the roses. I also had jonquils and daffodils – which I left to multiply.
We ended up with some lovely vistas. Next time we’ll move on to the Terrace garden.