Welcome to my new front yard garden

Growing annuals from seed to fill in the space formerly filled by lawn.

If you follow me on instagram, you’ll know I’ve been working on a new garden in 2021. It all started in September of 2020 when we cleared my exisiting raised beds, all the remaining grass and a few ancient shrubs from the front of the house. (PJM Rhododendrons – anyone remember those?)

Our contractors then put in brick walkways, and a few mulched pathways to loosely structure the space. They also planted a few shrubs at the font of the house, and a shade garden of native ferns at the shady end of the yard. The wide open space in front was daunting in the spring of 2021.

But I had been planning and growing seedlings for weeks, so by mid-May, I was ready. Or so I thought. Like all gardens, this one was not without its heartbreaks – rabbits skirting the fence, a too hot June followed by a rainy July. I’ll spare you the photos of rabbit chewed plants, and a few stunted Dahlias (too close to the shade!) and just say, thankfully, by the late summer, my seed-sown plants started to come into their full glory.

I’m not showing the bare patch behind the zinnias, where the rabbits killed my delphiniums, but I am already planning and making lists and dreaming of next year’s garden. And to that end, I’ll share a few of my favorites from this season below and hope to inspire you in planning your 2022 garden!

Flower obsession: Verbascums

verbascum portrait

I’ve been known to develop obsessions with particular flowers. One year, it was strawflowers; another year, it was hellebores and lately, it has been Verbascums, also known as Mulleins, in all their varieties.

verbascum thapsis flowers

It started when I left the weedy Verbascum thapsis AKA Common Mullein in my cutting garden, just to watch it grow. And, did it grow! A 7 foot column of yellow flowers and beautiful leaves – a glorious sight that became a topic of conversation in my household and neighborhood.

verbascum thapsis leaves

Verbascum thapsis (the weed) typically grows on rocky, open spots, like train tracks, parking lot edges, etc. and since its not native to North America, some sources list Verbascum thapsis as invasive. Others sources consider it ‘naturalized’ and celebrate its many medicinal uses. I just loved its fuzzy leaves and cheerful flowers buzzing with bees.

verbascum phoenecium in gardenI’ve also been smitten with the smaller, more delicate Verbascum phoenecium, which I’ve grown from seed. Since its a perennial, it took 2 years before flowering, but once it bolted, it was mesmerizing to watch.

purple verbascum phoenecium bottle branch blog 2.jpg The individual flowers open sequentially along the flower spike, from bottom to top: as the flowers below fade and drop off, new ones open above – a lovely metaphor for life and its many opportunities, don’t you think?!

nettle leaved mulleinThen, I encountered this ‘nettled-leaved mullein’ when visiting a garden in Maine – Verbascum Chaxii ‘album’ Isn’t it a beauty?I have been seaching for a domestic seed souce for this variety (unsuccessful so far – ideas most welcome!)  but in the mean time I’ve planted a few Verbascum ‘Southern Charm” which are coming along nicely and promising to flower soon.

verbascum 'southern charm' budsOnce it does flower, it will  surely appear in my still life and other instagram photos, because I just can’t get enough of all the Verbascums these days. Can you spot the Verbascum in the photo below?

stilll life with irises and verbascum.JPG