Backyard Garden Tour – Flowers and Plants!

This is the most exciting part of my backyard garden tour, where I show the flowers and plants I selected in more detail! In selecting my plants, I wanted to make sure that most were low-water plants (with the exception of the roses…those need more water but I justify it because they are my favorite and I use them for lots of culinary uses and herbal teas in the winter). I also gave myself the added challenge of making sure there were no poisonous flowers or plants since our cats and dogs like to nibble on anything they can find. They used to munch on grass, but now that we have no lawn, anything is fair game to them. Also, I would hate for our little guy or any of his friends to get sick if they put a plant in their mouth!

I ended up using a variety of flowers that are actually edible and/or herbs. Roses are edible, as are fuchsias, nasturtiums, and many other flowers. The cats love finding a cozy spot to curl up with some of the herbs I planted such as lavender. Below, I have some nasturtiums, Santa Barbara daisies, geraniums, Mexican sage, California lilac, Shasta daisies, red valerian, elephant’s bush, and a David Austin rose. I planted lots of geraniums and Santa Barbara daisies throughout the garden because they do so well in our climate. They were actually planted here in a couple of spots by a previous owner and survived despite the house being vacant for about a year.

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Another variety of sage with some more David Austin roses.
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My David Austin Malvern Hills rambling roses.
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I selected almost all David Austin roses because I love their scents and old fashioned charm. They look so different from most of the roses that you see these days, and to me they are worth the extra investment.
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Bacopa and ivy geranium in hanging baskets near the Malvern Hills roses.
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Lavender, nasturtiums and our dwarf lemon tree.
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A little vignette of color in a semi-shady area…coleus, fuchsias, bacopa, sweet potato vines, and heuchera.
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These firestick succulents in the center of this arrangement have actually been relocated elsewhere since I took this photo. I learned from one of the instructors in the series of gardening classes I am currently taking that they are extremely toxic and can cause temporary blindness, and even be poisonous enough to kill if enough is ingested. When I initially read about them online, all I saw was that they could be a “mild skin irritant”. Apparently they can do a whole lot more than just irritate your skin!
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I planted pretty much any kind of sage and lavender I could find.
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The bright pink flowers below were actually here when we bought our house. They are one of the very few plants that were here originally that I left growing (there were many diseased, dying, poorly planted, and poisonous plants that I removed over the past couple of years). They are called red valerian or Jupiter’s beard. They are amazing and super hardy. They are self-seeding, and come back year after year. Occasionally, I trim off the spent blooms to clean them up a bit, but they are really low maintenance. They also require almost no water. I literally barely ever water them. Right now, in our horrible drought, they are one of the few plants that I see in the nearby wild areas that are still alive. Even lots of the native plants are just brown with the current drought.

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I also recently found a similar white flower, which I was excited about.
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In the level below all of the red valerian, I have lots of geraniums and Santa Barbara daisies planted. They also need very little water.
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Under our fig tree, I have a little shady area of the garden that needed some shade loving plants. I used lots of fuchsias, with some jade, Persian shield, coleus, and mint. The jade plants were burnt in the heatwave recently but are recovering quite nicely now.
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This is another little shady area under our hibiscus tree. Here I planted helichrysum, begonias, heuchera, fuchsias, coleus, Persian shield and iresine. I just love all of the bright colors in this area. Most people tend to think they have to grow impatiens in a shady area (which I think are such a boring flower), but there are so many more options for shady areas of your garden!

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Behind the row of roses, the sunflowers that my son and I planted from seed are really starting to bloom like crazy. 🙂
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Updated Tour Of Our Front Yard Garden

Someone recently wrote to me and asked to see a full tour of my garden, and I have been excited to post this for a while now.  A full tour of the edible garden can be seen here (although that tour is slightly outdated and needs an update soon!).  We have a lot of plans for some changes to the hardscape in our front garden, but I am happy with how it looks for now. 🙂

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Shade Garden Update!

There are two last places in the front yard that have been needing some planting attention.  One is a bare area underneath the two large pine trees on the lower level (still yet to be tackled).  The other was the full shade area along the one retaining wall, under a bunch of trees.

The previous owners (or whoever they hired) had planted the worst possible items in this area…roses, some unidentified plant (possibly some kind of pomegranate), and an ornamental strawberry tree.  All of these plants were needing full sun, and were planted in full shade.  They all looked horrible.  I will show a before shot in an upcoming post, detailing all of their mistakes that I have cleaned up lately.  The strawberry tree and the mystery plant were also both sending out runners and seedlings, all over the lawn.  I couldn’t handle it any longer, so I took action.

I dug up everything along that wall except for the apple tree and the pine tree (obviously I wouldn’t touch those!).  I double dug the very compacted soil, and added tons of compost and fertilizer.  I planted a variety of colorful shade plants including an asparagus fern, sword fern, polka dot plants, coleus, heuchera, iresine, and caladium.  I love all of these plants for this area since they have a variety of bright colors and don’t require much sun at all.  There are literally no flowers in this section but it is full of color!

On a side note…We recently had some trouble with our sprinklers in the upper part of the front yard.  There are no sidewalks in our neighborhood, and the grass goes all the way to the curb.  Some neighbors (or their guests) kept stepping on the sprinklers near the edge of the curb and breaking them.  I was trying to water the grass by hand and with those little hose sprinklers until my husband had the time to fix the sprinkler heads, but it was quite difficult to get everything evenly watered this way (especially in the middle of the hottest summer ever!).

Much of the grass started to die off in the upper part of the front yard.  I was so discouraged since I had done so much work on this grass to revive it when we first moved in.  I started again with dethatching the dead areas, and used my cultivator to work in new shade grass seed and fertilizer.  I also poured my compost weed tea on the troubled areas.  After daily watering for a few minutes each day, the grass is back to full and green and lush!  I am so happy. 🙂

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