the front hill, revealed

So. The front hill. Yes, it’s finally planted! Shall I whisk you back in time before I show you how it looks now?

When we moved in, the yard looked like this (biggify to see the full ugly)…

the hill when we moved in, complete with massive pile of crappy stone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since then, the stone was hauled away — you can see the freshly built retaining wall now along the driveway…

stone taken away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The messy oak tree out front was removed and replaced with three Japanese cedars last fall…

oak tree remains in may 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the tenacious 3′ tall weeds…

weeds weeds weeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, I dug those up. Then last December, the front walkway was put in…

destruction in december

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

walkway done in december 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once that was done, I added a truckload of soil…

added soil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…  and sculpted the hill to my liking, creating a series of flat strips to slow the runoff. Just me and a shovel.

And once that was done, I added Curlex erosion control blanket (like we did on the other hill) to hold the slope. You can probably spot the flattish areas if you biggify…

erosion control added in december 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the winter, I made plant choices plants for this dry, south-facing hillside. I went with mostly Mediterranean and hardy, xeric, native plants that wouldn’t mind the rocky, sandy soil, wind and summer heat —  grasses and perennials that will grow up into a bee/butterfly/hummingbird meadow. The closer to the house, the tighter, more regimented the layout. The farther away, the looser, more organic the layout.

In March, I started shoving the shrubs I’ve been saving into the ground. Then the boxes of plants for the front hill started arriving from various online sources…

 

live plants begin arriving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shiva stopped by in April to help lay out the Nassella tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass)…

shiva helps lay out the 85 nassella tenuissima in april

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, I became the Mad Planter, popping plants in the ground at every opportunity. Then Shiva and Natasha came and helped with the final push…

shiva and natasha help out in may

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank goodness because if they hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have finished until July. I’m guesstimating but there are probably around 400 plants in. I should do a final count.

Although this is about as anti-climatic as a Mad Men end-of-season episode, here’s the not-so-big reveal (again, you might want to biggify):

front hill, view 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

front hill, view 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Except for a few holdovers from pots, the plants are all tiny and won’t look like much the first year. If they grow in like my meadow out back, next summer you’ll see a huge difference.

In the meantime, have a closer look at a few bright spots…

festuca glauca ‘elijah blue’ and caesalpinia gilliesii (yellow bird of paradise) next to the front steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

origanum ‘aureum’, helictotrichon sempervirens ‘sapphire’ (blue oat grass) and thymus pseudolanuginosus (wooly thyme)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rhus typhina ‘bailtiger’ (tiger eyes sumac)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Origanum rotundifolium ‘kent beauty’ (ornamental oregano) just beginning to bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thymus x citriodorus (lemon thyme)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the first callirhoe involucrata (purple poppy mallow) bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who care, below is a list of what you’ll find on my front hillside. For  visuals, pop up my Pinterest plant menu page…

Grasses

Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ (Blue Grama)

Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ (Blue Fescue)

Helictotrichon sempervirens ‘Sapphire’ (Blue Oat Grass)

Nassella tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass)

Panicum virgatum ‘Ruby Ribbons’ (Switch Grass)

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’ (Little Bluestem)

Sporobolis heterolepis (Prairie Dropseed)

Groundcovers

Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’ (Golden Oregano)

Origanum rotundifolium ‘Kent Beauty’ (Ornamental Oregano)

Rosmarinus officianalis ‘Prostratus’ (Creeping Rosemary)

Rubus pentalobus (Creeping Raspberry)

Thymus × citriodorus (Lemon Thyme)

Thymus lanuginosus (Wooly Thyme)

Perennials

Agastache ‘Ava’ (Hummingbird Mint)

Amorpha canescens (Leadplant)

Amsonia hubrechtii (Threadleaf Bluestar)

Callirhoe involcrata (Purple Poppy Mallow)

Eryngium yuccafolium (Rattlesnake Master)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’

Geum trillium (Prairie Smoke)

Lavendula x intermedia ‘Grosso’

Petalostemon Purpureum (Purple Prairie Clover)

Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Alcalde’ (Cold Hardy Rosemary)

Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Arp’ (Cold Hardy Rosemary)

Salvia pachyphylla ‘Blue Flame’ (Giant Purple Sage)

Verbascum nigrum ‘Album’ (Mullein)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

 

Shrubs

Baptisea lacteal (False White Indigo)

Buddleia alternifolia ‘Argentea’ (Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush)

Caesalpinia gilliesii (Yellow Bird of Paradise)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern) — to echo the sweetfern we used on the other hillside

Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ (Fragrant Sumac)

Rhus typina ‘Bailtiger’ (Tiger Eye Sumac)

 

Trees

Cornus florida (American Dogwood) — the one and only thing original to the hillside!

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’ (Japanese Cedar)

Pinus thunbergii ‘Thunderhead’ (Japanese Black Pine)

 

Succulents, Yucca and such

Euphorbia niciana x nicaeensis ‘Blue Haze’ (Cushion Spurge)

Euphorbia myrsinites (Donkeytail Spurge)

Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii ‘Shorty’ (Cushion Spurge)

Hesperaloe parviflora (False Red Yucca)

Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’

Orostachys iwarenge  (Chinese Dunce Cap)

 

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5 Responses to “the front hill, revealed”

  1. Jim Williams says:

    Very exciting! and gorgeous. We have an edible variety of Agastache (makes great pesto). Curious if your creeping rosemary will survive. Ours only survives very mild VA winters, and just barely. Can’t wait to see what it looks like as they grow out.

  2. Brook says:

    Check back in a year, Jim! I have hopes for the rosemary (especially after the creeping variety survived this winter), but I’ve yet to have any variety make it through without me having to bring it in. We shall see. Fingers crossed.

  3. Wendy says:

    Wow terrific! Can’t wait to see it in person!

  4. [...] been a little more than two months since the front slope got planted. Here’s what it looked like at the end of June (click to [...]

  5. [...] just take a moment to marvel at the fact that the rosemary plants I put on the front hill last June are not only still alive, they seem to be doing really well! But wait, it’s mid-January and this [...]

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