If you missed my garden post last week, you might want to take a minute to check it out. The comment section is full of great advice, tips, and suggestions that are especially applicable and helpful if you live in zone 4. Also, this post is a continuation of that one, so it might be helpful for context.
To get this post started, I thought I would share the gardens that inspired me. I love the look of the gardens designed and shared by Loi Thai of Tone on Tone. His gardens are simple and beautiful, structured, traditional, and approached almost as interior rooms with focal points, layers, textures, and a clearly established color palette.
Here are a couple examples…
Now, I do realize my limitations. I’m in a suburban home and some of these looks just might not work or make sense, but the overall approach can certainly apply. If this is the look I love, why not pursue it as best I can?
I really did find a lot of freedom when consulting with my friend, who has a knack for gardening. She encouraged me and assured me I can move things or change them around if something isn’t working. Isn’t that liberating?
So, I’m going to pursue the look I want and just go with any challenges or hiccups that may arise. As I was arranging the potted plants in my bare garden, I thought about my journey with painting and drawing and how similar this is. I read a lot of books to get started in art and I’ve read a lot of books since. They’ve all taught me a lot, but in the end, my best lessons have come when pencil touched paper and my brush met the canvas. I can read books on gardening and watch tutorials and research the plants and ask for advice and I’ve done all of that and it’s very valuable. The real lessons, though, will happen once I start digging and getting my hands dirty. Experience is, indeed, the best teacher.
Anyway, here’s a look at the layout and main plants I purchased to start off our “front garden”…
It was important to me to add an evergreen component to the garden. Yes, our ground is covered in snow all winter, but it’s still nice to have a little green peeking under. Last winter, my garden was just sticks poking up from the snow and I was wishing for bushes to decorate with Christmas lights and to add some color in the spring when the snow was melting, but nothing was yet budding or blooming.
The boxwoods will add that green color and also some structure and shape to the garden in all seasons. I did a lot of research on the different varieties that will do well in zone 4 and the Green Velvet Boxwood kept coming up again and again. I love the bright green color and the feathery texture of the branches as opposed to the more rigid branches you see on some varieties. These were also not stinky (in my opinion, anyway.) I haven’t noticed any “cat pee” smell or anything other than an earthy, organic smell. I’ll let you know how they do, but my local friend has a beautiful hedge of them, so I’m hopeful!
For the border along the sidewalk, I bought two white-blooming annuals. One is Wave Petunias (not shown in the picture above) and the other is Diamond Frost (shown below)…
I was attracted to this plant in the nursery, because of the lacy texture. Plus, they are annuals, so I can just try them out for a year and if they don’t work or if I goof something up (like maybe I plant too many too close together), then I can take those lessons into next year.
I think they will make a lovely frame for the sidewalk, though.
I added the petunias at the last minute, because I know they will spread quickly and bring lots of white blooms to the garden. My mom said rabbits have been eating her petunias and I know some hang around in my yard, so I’ll have to keep an eye on that one!
The other plants I purchased for the front are two Sweet Autumn Clematis. They are climbing vines that I bought from our local nursery.
I had done a lot of research on climbing vines with white blooms that will survive in zone four and, I will admit, it was tough to decide. One of the vines I looked into was nicknamed “mile-a-minute vine”, because it grows so fast, but it’s also invasive and can get out of control quickly. Sweet Autumn Clematis is considered somewhat invasive, but seems to not be an issue as long as you prune it each year.
HERE is a great post on HGTV.com about Sweet Autumn Clematis. I found this article particularly helpful, because it gives both the upsides and the things to be aware of.
Here is a picture I found of this variety of clematis…
Originally, when I went to the nursery, I put a couple of climbing hydrangea plants in our cart. As I was checking out, I decided to ask if they would be a good choice for my idea (of growing the vine on a trellis and around my porch). There happened to be a landscape designer within earshot who jumped into the conversation and informed me that those would be painfully slow-growing and suggested I consider something else. I mentioned my interest in Sweet Autumn Clematis, but I didn’t see them at their store. He disappeared to the back and pulled three out that had just arrived that day and told me I could have my pick.
Well, there we go… Sweet Autumn Clematis it is. A purple clematis was already in my garden, so I think they should do well here, but we’ll see. I’ll definitely keep you posted on those.
I mixed in the garden soil, hummus, and manure this weekend and finished up the planting on Saturday, so I’ll be able to show you the finished garden as soon as I get some good pictures of it!