I am so excited to share these pictures with you because the transformation of Berrybrier’s front yard is blowing my mind! The space is now so much more beautiful and functional! This project took so much work though and certainly didn’t happen overnight. Hours and hours and hours of weeding went into clearing the garden. Then I moved a ton of my existing plants, added more plants, and laid all the stone path. It’s so wonderful to see it all come together just as I first imagined, it’s completely transformed the whole look of the house. Let’s take a closer look!
You may recall this plan I created for the garden when I first began the One Room Challenge. This shows the layout I planned to put into place in the garden.
The view across the yard towards my neighbor’s home looked like this when I bought the house! It was full of weeds (creeping thistle among others) and had random tall growing grasses that had fallen over unsupported.
By March 2020 it looked like this — much better — but still pretty boring ,with plenty of empty space, and too many irises to count!
Let’s look at it now! The path through the garden, flowers dotting the full, lush greenery on either side is exactly what I’d imagined. Most of these plants need only occasional watering and with Oregon summer still not started (see those grey skies?!), we’re getting plenty of rain for them.
Let’s start by talking about the stone path. It’s the architecture of the garden and helps define the space. The stone is Oregon Flagstone and I bought it on Cragslist, three tons of stone for $700, which was a smoking deal. By cutting through the front of the yard it provides a clear path of travel to the front door and the vegetable garden. At the moment the space between the stones is filled with wood chips and the occasional low growing plant. As the wood chips break down and add nutrients to the soil, I’ll eventually begin fill the gaps between the stones with lush green ground covers. I couldn’t help but put in a few low growing ground covers in this year though. I picked up a couple packs of Scotch Moss at a local nursery and placed them near where the irrigation crosses the path.
I also planted these St. John’s Wort plants. I think they’re stunning. I put this guy in the flower bed near the chimney for some added height and interest while the dahlias and gladiolus take their sweet time growing.
I love how these red buds look next to the chimney! It’s so moody and gorgeous.
To add to the architecture of the garden, I also placed a couple of these large, black ceramic globes in amongst the plants. The contrast of the black against the green or the flowers is just stellar! I think they’re going to create a lot of interest in the winter when the perennials die back as well.
On the other side of the path is a vintage concrete bird bath. I’d love for this to be a place for pollinators to hydrate as well as the birds! I need to find a way for it to better hold water though – right now it all soaks into the concrete and evaporates! The architecture of it is so pretty though. And then of course, there’s my new copper landscape path lighting. But I’ll be telling you more about that in an upcoming post!
The garden has a way of showing off differently each week. Right now, the day lilies are having their moment. I have these pinky-orange ones and light yellow ones scattered around the garden. It seems like every couple of weeks a new garden flower is blooming. Though I miss each one as it dies off, the next flowers to bloom heal my heart pretty quickly!
The bright pink flowers scattered everywhere throughout the garden? Those are called Rose Campion and they were the very first flowers to bloom, and they are still blooming. They spread like wild fire, but I love them so much. The pale greenery of their leaves is such a fun contrast from their magenta blooms.
I definitely have favorite plants in the garden. These raspberry vines are just getting established after being transplanted last year, but they still produce enough berries for me to munch on in the late spring. They’re along the sidewalk side of the path as you enter the vegetable garden. It’s awesome having a sweet treat at my fingertips and the perfect intro to the edibles section of the garden. Plus, no property named “Berrybrier” would be complete without raspberries!
And speaking of berries, my blueberries are juuuuust starting to ripen. I’ve been able to eat two whole berries so far! I cannot wait for these to all turn a deep shade of purpley-blue, because the bushes are just bursting with berries! I bought blueberry plants a couple years ago and then added three more to the garden this year. If you scroll up to the plan, you’ll see I’m creating a bit of a blueberry hedge along the fence of the garden.
Let’s talk about the vegetable garden. It’s becoming such a true joy for me. I love coming out each morning and seeing what new growth has started. It’s been fun to come out with a pair of shears and a bucket and my new hori-hori to pull up any weeds and trim any suckers. I built the trellises from branches and natural jute twine to support the tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers I’ve planted.
I was up on a ladder a week ago installing some of the landscape lighting and I snapped this progress shot of the garden with my phone. In a few more weeks I’ll have to climb back up here to see the growth! This shot also gives you a good overview of how the path winds through the vegetable garden to the bench at the back. The side path on the bottom left connects the main path to the side gate. The garden paths were all planned out, but at the last minute I decided to make 4 loops in the path rather than two. The vegetables surround you when you walk through this part of the garden now. The garden becomes more than a visual as the path forces you to interact with your surroundings. The spacing is tight, but in a way that almost hugs you. I am looking forward to the greenery growing up the trellises in more full force, so the vegetable garden becomes even more of an immersive experience.
You can see here in this photo below how the trellises hug the path through the vegetable garden, but the highlight of this image is in that terracotta pot! One of the spontaneous decisions I made for the garden was this espaliered apple tree! I bought it a nursery sale and it is a 4-in-1 apple tree, meaning each branch is a graft of a different variety. I’ll have Golden Delicious, Fuji, Braeburn, and Gala apples in coming years. I can’t wait for the fruit or for the tree to continue to grow into a living fence along the wall property line!
And speaking of fences, I added this cedar plank one right on top of the existing chain link fence. I wanted more of a visual barrier with my neighbor and I hate the look of chain link! This is more of a temporary measure than anything, so for about $55, I simply ripped 6′ fence boards down into 3′ pieces to create a simple fence.
In the empty spaces along the vegetable garden path I’ve planted flowers – but these ones are edible! The lavender plant is now in full bloom and growing beautifully, but the white echinacea cone flower in the picture below has just begun to bloom. I think these are just absolutely gorgeous!
Since I want to spend more time eating vegetables than watering them, I added a simple soaker hose system to the garden. One hose winds through all the vegetable beds and another hose waters the main part of the garden. I have both on a timer system and I’m starting out with watering the main garden once a week for about 45 mins and the vegetable garden twice a week for 55 mins. I may adjust as necessary when things finally start to warm up here in the Rose City.
Oh, and see that little copper label? I decided to keep a numbered list of all the vegetable varieties I’m planting this year in my garden journal. Then I made numbered labels as well. This way, I can continue to reuse these labels long into the future even if the variety or type of vegetable changes! I just bought these Vigaro labels at Home Depot for a few bucks for a 6 pack, but then used a metal/leather stamp set to imprint the numbers. Since my handwriting isn’t especially nice, this stamped look is far superior! Plus I think it will last longer than any sharpie lettering! The ones I bought are no longer available, but these labels labels look basically identical.
At the very end of the vegetable garden path is this bench, which is quickly becoming my favorite place to sit and watch the sunset. It’s such a hidden gem back here! I’ve added a few outdoor pillows and some additional plantings to keep it lively. It’s recessed back enough from the sidewalk, that most passersby don’t notice you sitting here, so it feels private, even though it is in the front garden! I’ve found myself sitting here to eat my work-from-home lunches and in the evenings too. It’s even better as the light fades from the sky and the garden begins to look magical.
Besides the bench, I placed a chinoiserie garden stool I bought a few years ago at Home Goods. I want like 3 more of similarly printed stools. I just love how it looks!
Next to these pots is my new bee balm plant! Besides the raspberries, this plant is my true favorite. It’s so spiky and fun and lush with color. Plus it’s nice and tall and smells amazing! I’ve placed two in the vegetable garden hoping to attract more pollinators!
From the bench this is the view through the vegetable garden towards the sidewalk. That giant hydrangea is in the parking strip and even though it’s WAY too big for that spot, it’s far too stunning to chop down. I prune it throughout the season so it doesn’t completely eat the sidewalk and give it a super hard prune back in the fall too.
So, remember when I bought the house and it looked like this? The garden was overgrown and taller than me and filled with weeds and the house was blue and white! Even though the roof was failing, I knew this house was the one though.
And now — finally — Berrybrier is looking exactly like I always dreamed it could be: absolutely magical!
So there it is: the Berrybrier front garden. 8 weeks of dedicated work and many more before that of weeding, weeding, weeding! Now I’m grateful for the time in the garden, maintaining the plants and weeding out any creeping thistle that still manages to make its way through to the sunshine. This is my happy place, my escape. I come out here to feel the sun on my face. And just like the plants, I am energized.
The One Room Challenge is hosted by Better Homes & Gardens and inspires so many beautiful projects. You can check out so many of the talented designers here on the blog where all of our posts are linked up. Thanks for reading along with my garden journey! It’s been a crazy ride of progress, weeding, more progress, more weeding, no progress because of weeding, and then some more weeding. If anyone wants to burn an effigy of creeping thistle, count me in!
Let me know what you think of the garden below! I want to know any advice you might have. Also, should I paint my fences white? Or light Robin’s Egg blue, perhaps? Hmmmm… better weigh in with your thoughts in the comments!