After 20 years in our Nashua, NH home, we finally decided to up our game with a renovation of our street-side gardens. In spring 2016, the front foundation beds and "walkway" garden were completely renovated with the help of Bill Parker of Parker Garden Design. Our goal was a low-maintenance garden that would enhance curb appeal and set the stage for the rest of The Big Little Garden!

Our home faces north, so the foundation plantings need to be shade tolerant. Plants just three feet on the other side of the front walkway need to be able to handle full sun. Designing relatively small beds that would "speak" to each other yet survive in completely opposite sunlight conditions challenged me for years. Happily, Bill helped identify the perfect plants for our makeover. Here's a chronology of events as the new beds were installed, with some tweaks made along the way.

Landscape renovation, March, 2016

Bill Parker's proposal included a stacked Goshen stone wall along the front of the house. He felt that the house needed stone materials to help anchor it to the landscape, and we agreed! To begin, overgrown rhododendrons were removed and a 'Bloodgood' Japanese Maple was relocated a few feet "downhill". A few relatively painless weeks later, we had a gorgeous new stone wall and significantly more room for plant materials (click photos to enlarge):

First Year Plantings:

Foundation plantings include shade tolerant 'Winterthur' Viburnum, dwarf Eastern White Pine 'Merrimack', Coppertina Ninebark and the slow growing 'Mikawa Yatsubusa' Japanese maple. Ground covers include Sweet Woodruff and 'Queen Esta'  Epimedium.

On the other side of the walkway is the new bed formed with the installation of the stacked Goshen stone wall. Even though it faces north, this garden bed is barely eclipsed by the shade cast by our home, resulting in an entirely different sunny micro-climate. Trees and shrubs are underplanted with sun-loving, low-maintenance succulents, allium, grasses and woolly thyme. I've also tested a couple varieties of carex to accentuate and soften the front of the stone wall.

A primary goal for our new facelift was four season interest. The specimens that lend "bones" to the garden provide that interest in spades: Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Gracilis', a 'Lemon Thread' Falsecypress, a Harry Lauder Walking Stick 'Red Dragon', and a Jack Pine 'Shoodic'. These and a variety of ornamental grasses lend beauty to the landscape 12 months of the year:

Second year tweaks:

Never content to just let something be, I decided that the front sunny bed presented the perfect opportunity to test my hand with a gravel garden. Instead of mulch, which can look messy and washed out over time, I find the pea gravel to be a worthy alternative - especially when wet. Water wise specimens planted in gravel are super easy care and I love how the gravel makes the plants really "pop". The best part is that I shouldn't have to add any more gravel next season!

In the fall of 2017, dozens of allium, tulip and miniature daffodil bulbs were planted in the gravel garden. Stay tuned for updates!