The end of October 2019 marked our second anniversary of living in Mapleton! In those two years the garden has undergone a major transformation. We are both keen gardeners, and we have both worked hard in creating a little haven for ourselves to enjoy in our retirement. We have achieved most of the changes ourselves on a tight budget, often re-purposing items. We have moved tons of soil, and loads of pebbles, sand and mulch over the past two years, and have added many bags of cow and chicken manure to improve the soil quality and structure. Ideas have been tossed around, inspiration and advice gleaned from anyone willing to impart knowledge, cuttings have been propagated, and seeds sown. It has all been an exciting learning experience.
This week’s Six on Saturday focuses on the changes and improvements we have made to the front garden since 2017.
1. The front footpath
The boundary border was undefined, and as we had plenty of pavers, I used them to mark out the front edge of the garden. However, things did not go according to plan……
Three of the trees on the footpath are natives, and they have substantial roots! Trimming these large roots was not an option as we did not want to risk losing the trees. So I compromised and the boundary now meanders around the large tree roots. As soon as the perennials and shrubs I planted grow they will hide the pavers.
2. First view of the front garden
Not much hardscaping was during the first year, as I wanted to get a feel for the garden, the area, see what plants were already in the garden, and note how the sun/shade moved during the year. As soon as our first winter (in 2018) arrived, work on the garden began in earnest.
The original garden had two tall palms growing very close to the house, and these were removed for safety reasons. Once the palms were gone I dug the bed over, added some lime, compost and manure and planted out some purple Salvia that I had purchased from a local roadside stall. The Salvia provides endless colour to the garden throughout the year and the bees love it!
The garden be outside the front door was tackled next. This area is shaded by a tree fern. I have used this area to grow some of the more delicate plants, such as the Velthelmia, ground orchids, snake lily, Begonia and Eucomis. There are also a variety of bromeliads there.
Towards the far side of the garden was a large clump of Golden Cane Palms, planted in a raised bed edged with large rocks. This bed was directly in the water easement, and although we could see some drainage holes going into the bed, the water did not seem to flow through after we had a heavy downpour. The palms had to go! That was when we noticed that there where lots of short pieces of Ag-pipe randomly placed under the bed. No wonder rain water could not flow down to the drain at the bottom of the garden!
Today there are even more garden beds in the front garden. The water easement has been turned into a dry river bed, and excess rain water moves freely down to the drain. I have planted some native sedge along the edges of the river bed to try and make it look more natural.
3. View across the front garden from the driveway
This view of the entire front garden as what it looked like last year. Some work had already started in the front garden beds.
Today there is hardly any lawn, and it has been replaced by garden beds. New trees include the natives Callistemon, Grevillea and Hymenosporum flavum. The new shrubs include Dombeya, Salvia, Cat’s Whiskers, Moon flower, roses, Azalea, Pride of India, Metrosideros, and Camelia.
4. View across the front garden looking back towards the driveway
The bump in the path leading from the house to the road had a short piece of pipe to allow drainage of rain water from the driveway to the water easement. Mr S pulled up the path, removed the pipe, constructed a little timber bridge and re-laid the pavers from each end of the bridge. Excess rain water flows freely under the bridge along the dry river bed.
Wood chip paths now meandering through the front garden. We removed the lawn, laid down weed-mat and covered the weed-mat with hard wood chips. By using retainer wall block to edge the beds and paths we were able to raise the beds well above their original level.
5. The path to the front door
This arch framed our first view of the garden and house back in 2017. The arch was covered with a very old white Banksia rose. The rose was in desperate need of rejuvenation and I was all for cutting it right back or replacing it, but peer pressure won and it is still there today.
The silver leaved Helichrysum petiolare is rampant and almost reaching for the other side of the arch! It needs a severe prune!
6. Front path from house to road
These before and after photos provide another view of the changes made.
Well, that is my Six-on-Saturday for the week. Slightly long-winded this time, but I felt some explanation was needed.
If you would like to see what is happening this weekend in gardens around the world then please visit The Propagator’s blog at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com