The front garden is the one thing that really brings out my exhibitionist tendencies. I want it to grab the attention of people walking or driving by.
Late summer is one of the times when the front garden has its greatest visual impact. Some of the blooms of mid-summer become even showier and more prolific.
Most of the excitement is generated by the Driveway and Sidewalk Borders, as well as the Front Island Bed.
Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum), at the back of the Front Island Bed, flowers even more profusely.
The same is true for the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia).
While the flowers of Sweet Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) fade to a fluffy brown, the Spotted Joe Pye Weed ‘Gateway’ (Eutrochium maculatum) show off their richer pink-purple blooms. I’ve been giving ‘Gateway’ some extra drinks of water since our wet spring turned into a dry July and August. This is a plant that loves moisture, but it seems to be doing fine even though it is in a raised bed.
The Yellow Coneflowers (Ratibida pinnata) are also reaching their peak, and they are in a sufficient mass to be noticed from a distance. It is a struggle to keep them from flopping excessively, though.
Also at this time of year, drive-by garden observers may notice the Orange Coneflowers blooming in the East Parkway Bed. That’s a Western Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) growing in the parkway, incidentally.
In the Sidewalk Border, the ‘Raspberry Wine’ Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) are fading but still have visual impact. It combines well with the Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) at the bottom of the photo, which takes on a bright Chartreuse color by late summer. I cut it back by at least half when it is done blooming in June.
Another foliage plant making a significant contribution is the Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), whose dangling seed heads will soon turn from green to tan. This year, though, I plan to remove the seeds not too long after they ripen to prevent excessive self-sowing.
Normally I get a nice dose of blue color from Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). However, the damage from four-lined plant bugs caused this wonderful plant to bloom rather feebly this year. There is some compensation from my compact ‘Blue Adonis’ Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii). ‘Blue Adonis’ also takes up where the Orienpet hybrid lilies left off in terms of providing a sweet fragrance for sidewalk passersby to enjoy.
For next year I am thinking of planting some short, late-blooming Clematis (possibly C. integrifolia ‘Mississippi River’) to provide a backup source of blue.
There was some historic giant of landscape architecture (I forget his name – Daniel Burnham?) who dreamed of how all suburban front lawns should flow together in a sort of common sward. That vision has been mostly realized in the typical American suburb. My dream is a little different. Rather than a never-ending green carpet, wouldn’t it be wonderful if those front lawns were replaced by billowing grasses and bright flowers? That would make for a commons of much greater richness, I think.