A good foundation

Normally pictures of the front foundation border are avoided.  This area qualifies as one of my least favorite views probably because the plantings do little to set off or relate to the house.  They’re kind of a mess come to think of it, but believe it or not they’ve come a long way <click here to see>.  Our visit starts with a stroll up the front walk past the welcome squirrel and edging by the ‘Tiger Eyes’ cutleaf sumac, which threatens to engulf all visitors.

tiger eyes cutleaf sumac

Which is too much?  The overwhelming yellow, the tacky lamp décor, or the too-red petunias?

The right side of the house is fronted by the porch, and in front of the porch is a pretty generic planting of evergreens and hostas.  They do a great job of being green and covering up the beds which house my favorite snowdrops and corydalis earlier in the year.

phlox and rudbeckia

Of course a rudbeckia would show up here as well.  This is one of the completely perennial and later blooming R. fulgens types, and I make an effort each spring of ripping it out only to have a few stray shoots  survive anyway.  btw, The pink of the phlox ‘Laura’ with the gold of the rudbeckia is one of my least favorite color combos.

The left side of the house is my problem bed.  I tried ironing out a few of its problems earlier this year but it still makes me raise an eyebrow each time I pass.  My first after-vacation task was to pull up all the massive crabgrass plants which were taking over, and while doing this I couldn’t help but wonder why I can’t show this same resolve against the inappropriately large sunflowers which sprout up each year (in my defense I did rip most out… but once they get past a certain size it just seems wrong to yank them).

weeding crabgrass

Weeding crabgrass in August.  What gardener doesn’t know this story?

If I could only get visitors to crawl around on their hands and knees I think the impression this bed makes would be infinitely improved.

gray and red in a mixed border

The low view: Larger evergreen would probably do a better job of connecting the house to these beds, but a couple agastache, a verbascum, stray sumac suckers and a bunch of other stuff are a lot more interesting 🙂

I like how the blue fescue is filling in along the edge, it goes well enough with everything and seems to be doing ok.  I wish it would do better, but I haven’t yet cracked the fescue code on what really makes it clump up and fill in.

pepper masquerade seedlings

For some reason peppers seemed like a good  candidate for a foundation planting this year.  Last summer I bought a single ‘Masquerade’ ornamental pepper and these are its seedlings.  The purple fruits should go to yellow then orange then red as they mature, but a few plants are starting out yellow, and I don’t know what they have planned. 

My unknown biennial eryngium turned out to be a perennial and is back for another show this summer.  If you can avoid the masses of wasps and bees the flowers attract it’s really a pleasant all summer cloud of blue-grey.

water wise plants

The mix of colors at this end of the border almost looks tasteful if you ignore the sunflowers peeking in on the right. 

Most of the plantings here are haphazard and either work or fail by luck, but the pairing of the blue fescue and pinkish ‘bon bon’ sedum was intentional.  I’m pleased with the contrast of the sedum coming up out of the fescue and it’s just what I was hoping for… as long as you overlook the sorta sparseness of the fescue.

sedum 'bon bon' with blue fescue

Sedum ‘bon bon’ with blue fescue and iris pallida aureo-variegata.

Things which didn’t work out quite as well were the cobweb thistles which drowned in our rainy July and the variegated St. Augustine grass which looks just a little too weedy.  I know it’s me though since I’ve seen it growing awesomely elsewhere and as a result I’m considering digging it up and trying it elsewhere, like in a pot… maybe even scissor trimming it for a neat little pot o’lawn 🙂

variegated st Augustine grass

Variegated st Augustine grass, ‘Alabama sunset’ coleus, more sumac, and an up and coming cardoon seedling.

Now off to the backyard!  My fingers are crossed we can get around the whole house by September 😉