Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Let's Walk Around the Front Center Island Bed


I am going to try to spotlight some of my gardens by doing a walk around. I did this once before with the Northside Shrub Border. Today's garden will be the Front Center Garden. This garden is about 50' long by 15' wide. It is in the center of the front yard and visible from the house. Looking from the front door to the left of the garden this is the view we see in the above picture. The Front Center Garden is the garden on the right. The part of the other garden you see with the 'Forest Pansy' redbud is, simply enough, the Forest Pansy Redbud garden with part of the Walled Garden attached. There is also a small concrete patio built into this garden area but today we focus on the Front Center Garden. The red tree in the FCG is a 'Newport' flowering plum. 

Just to give you bearings, the garden straight ahead between the path in the above picture is the Roadside Shrub Border. This border runs the whole length of my property except where the driveway empties to the road and then the Driveway Garden. The Roadside Shrub Border is 10-11 feet wide and about 115' long. I tell you about the Roadside Shrub Border because it is directly behind the Front Center Garden; which is what I'm showcasing today. The Roadside Shrub Border and the Front Center Garden are separated by a wide grassy path you cannot see but we will walk around the FCG together and you'll see parts of it. The two front gardens (FCG and Roadside Shrub Border) hide the busy state highway in front of my home.

The Front Center Garden is one of thirteen large gardens in the front yard that include the following gardens: Northside Shrub Border, Crabapple Garden, Foundation Gardens (3 distinct sections), Redbud Garden, Walled Garden, Roadside Shrub Border, Driveway Garden, Front Perennial Border, Mahonia Garden, and Front Sidewalk Garden. In the above picture the 'Forest Pansy' redbud garden is to the left of the Front Center Bed. There is a grass walk through between the two gardens. The red tree in the Front Center Bed is a 'Newport' flowering plum. This shrub is a fabulous shrub-in the spring. it blooms and has a nice red color and even grows plums, but when June comes around it is usually decimated by Japanese beetles. I'm not sure I'll keep it in the long run but for now it is fine. Let's next see our center view looking at this garden from the house.


Here is the view from the front door. This garden edge faces west so it gets only afternoon sun-once the sun passes the large oak and pine trees that reside in this garden. Though it is difficult to see in the picture you are looking at two large pink azaleas on the left, three large oak leaf hydrangeas in the middle, two more large pink azaleas are on the right of the oakleafs as well. Centered between the two large beds and nestled within the shrubs are two Japanese maples. The maples are only about 6 feet tall but are filling in nicely. One can be seen behind the bird bath and the other is on the right by the green stake.These shrubs and the two trees form the center of this island garden. In front of it closer to me are three 'Endless Summer' hydrangeas, catmint, lilies, candytuft, daylilies, heucheras, a pieris, and some irises hostas, and other miscellaneous perennials. There are also a ton of daffodil bulbs in this bed.


Here is a closer view standing next to the garden looking north from the center. You can keep it all in perspective by using the bird bath as a point of reference. This garden is edged with broken concrete. I love broken concrete in my garden! it will never rust, rot, or discolor. It ages perfectly and makes a great edger for all gardens as well as fabulous stepping stones. I have recently nearly completed a patio made of broken concrete; which I will share at a later date. This view shows more of the perennials. Perennials are repeated frequently. I find that catmint and candytuft do well here in the raised bed with afternoon sun. The conditions in this bed are extremely austere due to the oak tree and large pine tree.


And here we are looking away from the middle of the bed to the right of the bed towards the driveway. Here you can see one of the Japanese maples, several aucubas, the pieris, irises, and in the background toward the driveway you can see some spireas and the bird feeding station. I frequently sit in this area after a long day in the garden. I enjoy watching the birds up close and I have a lot of peace in this garden in this chair.


We are looking at the right side of the Front Center Garden still. Here we see a long view toward the road and the driveway. The spireas are in the Front Center Garden. Across the grass pathway is the Mahonia Garden, and the garden closest to the picture taker (me) is the Front Sidewalk Garden. This is my view from my porch and I never tire of it. I barely have any grass but I do have enough so as to not feel closed in by the gardens. One can have too many plants and trees I've been told. In fact, one of my best gardening friends said she didn't think I needed any more trees. I tend to agree until that next 'must have that no one else has' tree comes along. I'll find a spot by golly!


Okay, we just walked between the Mahonia Garden and rounded the Front Center Garden. We are now on the eastern side of the Front Center Bed. This garden has the Roadside Shrub Border on the right and you can see the grassy path I talked about when I opened this post. The shrubs in the Roadside Shrub Border garden shade this side of the FCG bed something awful. I must deal with the shade and sacrifice some blooms in order to have privacy from the road. This side of the border primarily has the oakleafs, aucubas, azaleas, and a few other shrubs you'll soon see along with the ever present perennials. The shrubs do okay but the azaleas do not like the spot. I am having issues with them so may remove them at some point. I personally think perennials are supporting players in gardens and definitely support the shrubs and trees; which are the stars here at Tiger Gardens. I do love designing with perennials but they are not my first choice to plant. My first choice has always been and will always be to plant trees and shrubs then design around them. All of my gardens have trees and shrubs with the exception of the Back Sunny Perennial Border and the Vegetable Garden.


A closer view of the east side. You can see the daylilies, irises and shrubs. The brown shrub is an azalea. Like I said, the azaleas do not like this spot at all. This particular azalea is one of four that I dug from a friend's house. These azaleas bloomed nicely only one year in the past three. They are not happy and have some issues; mainly azalea leaf gall. The brown one is the worst one. The other three are okay and I like the structure they provide so I keep them around.


Moving past the first set of azaleas we come upon the oakleaf hydrangeas and the second set of azaleas. On the other side of the azaleas is a Lo-Gro Sumac and Japanese kerria. Both of these shrubs do fine in the dry shade. The shade is very dry here due to an oak tree and also an oak tree that was cut down several years ago. The soil is most dry.


Here I've turned around and looked back to where we just came from. You can see a giant hosta, the Lo-Gro, and some daylilies. There are also some grasses growing here and we'll soon see the 'Newport' plum.

Ah, here is the bend looking down the bed once again. BJ is the flower sniffing dog at Tiger Gardens. He is the best dog in the whole world. My neighbor shaved both him and CeCe. Doesn't he look great? Normally he is a shaggy dog.


We've now rounded the bend and have come full circle back to the front side of the Front Island bed looking south. There are lots of perennials in this bed. I plant all of my plants very closely-probably too closely but the benefit is no weeds and interest all year. There are layers upon layers here in my gardens. I'll show some more layers soon.

Another close up of the front center of this bed still looking south. The flower pots are not normally on the edge of this bed. We are getting a new roof soon and had to move the flower pots away from the house.


Now we've come full circle back to the right side of the Front Center Garden. I hope you enjoyed our walk around. I tried-really tried to make a logical order of the photos. It is so hard to do this when you have a lot and have not uploaded them in sequence....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. Dear Tina, thanks for showing us around. Your garden is so big and complex and varied, very impressive and wonderful. I'm so pleased you gave catmint a mention! cheers, catmint

  2. What a wonderful tour! I like how you've got views from your house with meandering green between the bed, so perfect for strolling. And...having places to sit by some of the beds is so nice.

  3. Catmint, I think you cannot go wrong with catmint and I've been spreading it around in my gardens. I forgot you liked it!

    Freda, We love looking at our gardens-just like you! Sitting there is so nice. I smelled a Sweet Bay yesterday for the first time and wow! So fresh! Is yours blooming now?

  4. Tina, when I click on your photos, flickr tells me they're private and I can't see them bigger. :-( I was hoping to zoom into that Japanese Maple of yours and find the pieris. All looks great, it really does!

  5. Your front gardens are just spectacular girl! They look so lush, healthy and happy. You have surrounded yourself with pure joy. I love the front gardens and funny thing, when I visit Tiger Gardens, we seem to spend more time in the back of the house. My next visit, we must spend more time out front. LOL.

    I am going to attempt to install a door all by myself today. Cut outs for hinges, latch and door stops on the list. Yikes, I don’t know if I am brave or just plan crazy but I want to give it a try. Just call me Suzy-Home Builder!

  6. Thanks for the tour, Tina--just beautiful! The first photo with the redbud and the flowering plum is gorgeous. I'm glad to know you do sit down and simply enjoy your gardens at the end of the day:)

  7. Wow Tina, that was a tour and a half. What lovely lush gardens you have. Sorry to see the loss of another azalea. Much of my shade in the back is dry as well, have been trying to do an extra watering for all the baby plants in there.
    I think I have a place for a Forest Pansy. Almost bought one last fall but couldn't decide where it should go. Feel like I lost a season of growth by not knowing .....time's awastin'.

  8. It is like some magical creature playground. I can simply imagine fairies having a party in your garden.

  9. Nice! Your garden beds are looking fantastic Tina. I'm a big fan of the island beds and even more so when bordered with stone.

  10. That is a beautiful bed. I love that plum tree. Sorry it doesn't look good all year. I like having shrubs to give beds height and winter interest. I wish I had more room for more shrubs. You do so enjoy it! The broken concrete looks great just like stones out there with the plants. Someone once told me if you have weeds, you don't have enough flowers. You're doing good packing in the flowers. Thank you for the tour. What a great view to have from your house.

  11. Ok I need a aerial view, that would be pretty cool.
    Sure can't see the street.
    Now I have to go back and look again since you have sooo much to look at.. Wondering how many different plants you have.

  12. Patsi, And aerial view is coming at some point. It will help I think to show the big picture. I have about 400 different kinds of plants and cultivars and species all combined-they are cataloged. Plants I have not tried to count but it is sometimes too much even for me. I've worked hard accumulating them and am now out of space. My worst chore is dividing and moving. I'm not good at editing but really should work on that trait. Thanks for asking.

  13. Your front garden beds are massive Tina! They look really lush right now, you must be getting some rain. Thanks for the tour, it was fun. :)

  14. You know how much I love purples! I enjoyed walking around your lovely garden with you. It gives a sense of how all the elements fit together.

  15. I just do not know how you do it all. That first picture is magazine quality.

  16. The rocks look beautiful lining your beds and nicely complement the color of all the purple and red foliage.

  17. Tina,

    Your gardens are awesome, wish we could manage to have beds that look so full and lively like yours. The trees and shrub thing is something we don't do as our open space is limited. Got to visit there someday.

    I got your seeds the other day and have been swamped. Will send out your seeds soon.

  18. Hi Tina,
    Your garden is laid out very nicely!
    I can tell you have put a lot of energy and thought and much of yourself into this front garden. I love it! Thanks for sharing. I need to do this as I rarely show my garden from a distance.

  19. Evening all.
    Tina that was a beautiful tour of your front garden. Your plants are so lush. I really don't know how you do it. I can see you must spend a lot of time in your gardens.
    I could spend all my time outside mostly in the back. Been doing that a lot lately. Paying for it now.

  20. I loved the tour Tina! I love all that space you have and how pretty you've got it planted. I'd love to have room for more trees. I bet it's nice to wander around your yard and see how things look everyday. I always drag my husband around our yard after he gets home from work.
    BJ is so cute :)

  21. Hi Tina, I enjoyed my stroll through your garden. I sometimes think that I am crazy for having as large a garden as I do. I see I am not alone in my enthusiasm. Your garden is huge and must be quite a bit of work. It is looking great too BTW. I agree that trees and shrubs need to come first before perennials. They set the stage.
    P.S. Your garden helper BJ is looking very trim and adorable.