At the beginning of June, we will have lived in this house for 3 years, although I didn't start gardening in the yard until the fall of that first year.
This is what the front yard looked like in mid April, 6 weeks before we moved in....
I kept the huge canopy trees, a southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and a laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia). They are both native and, while I probably wouldn't have chosen either species to put in their spots, they add gravitas and presence to the yard. Besides 3 dwarf yaupons (Ilex vomitoria) and a few of the lawn weeds, they were also the only native plants growing in the front.
Since those first days, I've added a laundry list of natives to the front gardens, including shrubs (oakleaf hydrangeas, Virginia sweetspire, sweet pepperbush, dwarf Florida dogwood, wax myrtle, Darrow's blueberry, and a deciduous holly), ferns (southern shield fern, leatherleaf fern, and southern woodfern), perennials (columbine, blue eyed grass, golden ragwort, little brown jug, lyreleaf sage, Indian pinks, Walter's violets, woodland phlox, downy phlox, garden phlox, green and gold, Louisiana iris, mouse-ear coreopsis one, mouse ear coreopsis two, spiderwort, Gaillardia, Florida scrub skullcap, golden zizia, bluestem goldenrod, showy goldenrod, regal catchfly, powderpuff mimosa, dense blazingstar, native lantana, white Baptisia, butterfly milkweed, and fogfruit), and even a grass (Elliott's lovegrass). I'll spare you all the scientific names - this time!
Here's a recent photo of the front yard....
Having added such a wide variety and large number of plants, it's odd to me what people notice and comment about in my front gardens. I had a neighbor tell me how much she liked the "yellow flower", golden ragwort (Packera aurea), shortly after I planted it next to the sidewalk, under the magnolia.
Recently, a woman who came by to pick up wild strawberry plants I was giving away commented how much she liked my columbine and blue eyed grass. That made my day! She even knew the names!
Here's one clump of the blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) she was admiring, by the front porch, ...
Unfortunately, I inadvertently played into this concern by planting the first two powderpuffs at the base of a newly planted wax myrtle. I didn't take the time to clear a large, carefully delineated "bed" for the powderpuff to spread into. I've done my best to keep the grass weeded out of the spreading groundcover, and the powderpuffs have filled in marvelously well...but there isn't a defined edge to help people "read" this part of the landscape easily. That was a mistake on my part.
I'm going to keep working on the powderpuff, but another element I added to our front landscape is slated for removal: the small brush pile under the big laurel oak - at the base of its trunk in the photo below.
Despite my occasional misstep, the plants I've put in the front gardens are taking hold and growing well, getting taller and broader, blooming more fully. I'm far from the world's best landscape or garden designer, so my color and form combinations are rather haphazard, but I get a buzz of pleasure now when I drive up to our house or walk outside. For example, when I left the house this morning, I noticed a towhee foraging among the skullcaps by the sidewalk, and there are almost always at least a few butterflies, native bees, or honeybees diligently working the flowers. Little brown skinks commonly rustle through the leaf mulch and green anoles prowl the shrubs and perennials, males puffing out their salmon-colored throats in displays of pride and power during these lengthening spring days.
I hope my human neighbors come to enjoy my wilding landscape. I love that the wildlife is making itself at home outside my house...and it makes this yard home for me now, too.