Monday, June 10, 2013

The "B" Side

There's a dirt path running along the main section of our backyard between the Xylosma hedge and the sloped area of the property on the other side of the hedge.  When we moved in, the border in front of the hedge was about half as wide as it is now.  The border itself pitched backward toward the slope so that only about half of its width was flat and level with the lawn.  As it's my intent to eliminate most of the lawn over time anyway, widening the border to expand it further into the flat area of the backyard was one of our earliest projects.  I thought I'd written about this project, completed in late Spring 2012, but as I can't find any posts specific to that project, I guess I haven't.  This is the best "before" picture I could find.

The Hebe speciosa 'Variegata' and and Osteospermum '3D Silver' are still part of the border but the area in front of them has expanded

The border immediately after the grass was removed - at its widest point, the border was extended 6 feet

I still use the dirt path regularly to care for the plants at the back of the border.  When I was back there a couple of days ago, I noticed how different the garden looks from that vantage point.  I think some areas actually look better viewed from that direction than they do when viewed from the house and lawn area.  It made me think of the "B" side of a record album.  I'm undoubtedly dating myself with this reference as I'm sure there are many people out there who've never listened to music recorded on vinyl.  In any case, the "B" side of the old vinyl records was generally used, not for a musician's hit songs, but rather for his or her more personal pieces.  That's how I think of the "B" side of my garden.  It's something I expect few, if any, of my friends will see (except here) - after all, how many people want to shuffle along a dirt path less than a foot wide where they're grabbed by plants on both sides?

Here are some pictures of the "B" side of my back border:

This is roughly where the dirt path begins, looking through the side yard area that formerly held the Eucalyptus tree toward the street

The 2 beds on either side of the walkway in the photo above appear to blend together better than I thought they did when viewed from the other direction, probably because the blue and yellow pansies aren't as prominent.  The pansies are waning now and will have to be pulled soon.

Back view of the area featuring Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', Argyranthemum Madiera 'Crested Yellow', some infant lavender, and a self-sown borage

Viewed from either direction, I like how this small, newly planted section is coming together, although I think I should probably pull the borage.

This area will be a bit barren in the back until Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt" and Plectranthus ecklonii mature

The Plectranthus ecklonii in the foreground of the photo above is happier in this location than the bed closer to the street where I had it until the Eucalyptus tree came down.  It likes the mix of sun and shade it get here.  In time it should get 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

The "golden" side of my border looks fuller from the back

From the lawn, I see a lot of bare spots in the section of the garden featured above but, from this perspective, it looks as though it's filling in well.  Most of these plants have been in the ground less than a year - some only for a couple of months.

Mid-border looking across the lawn toward the fountain and the main patio

From this perspective, I really like the way the mint bush (Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata') complements the yellow yarrow (Achillea 'Moonshine') in the photo above.

Photo taken from several feet beyond the last picture and pointed back toward the side yard

I was afraid that the gold tones on one side of the border might clash with the pink and blue colors dominating the other side but, in the photo above, it appears that the blues of the lavender and Geranium 'Brookside' and the yellowish tint of the Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) are doing a good job of mediating the transition.

Moving past a large mass of Agapanthus toward the 2nd half of the border

A glimpse of the peony, no longer blooming, alongside Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' and Mexican feather grass

A clump of fading alstroemeria bordered by foxgloves awaiting their 2nd flush of bloom and Hebe speciosa 'Variegata'

I love the first flush of bloom on the foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) but I can't say I care much for how they look between flushes of bloom.  I may skip them here next year - as the surrounding shrubs and perennials fill out, there may not be space for them anyway.

A view of a Loropetalum I recently planted to replace a sickly member of the same species after pulling some of the surrounding foxgloves to provide more room

Agapanthus and an unidentified dormant daylily, now coming into its own, creating a temporary color clash with the last blooms of a nearby clump of alstroemeria, under the canopy of a large, multi-trunked Mimosa tree

The clash between the new blooms of the orange/red daylily and the pink Alstroemeria bother me less here than they do when viewed from the other direction.  In any case, the Alstroemeria will soon re-enter dormancy.

Although the front border was designed to be seen from 2 sides, I generally take pictures from the street side.  Here are pictures of its "B" side:

Photo of the back of the bed on the left side of the walkway taken from the lawn

Photo taken from the right side of the walkway

In both of the last 2 pictures, the Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' already appear to be overwhelming the pink Meidiland roses, which show more clearly in street side photos.

Do you have "B" side views in your garden?  What do they tell you that you don't get from your "A" side views?


  1. Much of my garden backs up to walls, fences, etc. but I have a few areas that can be viewed from more than one side. Usually I plant from the "A" side although I usually walk around and try to imagine what the view will be from either side. Right now alot of imagining is going on in my garden :).

    Is having listened to music on "vinyl" now considered an indication of old age? Geez, I hope not!

    1. I hope your weather improves soon, Sue, and that you have an opportunity to do more than imagine in your garden!

  2. I loved seeing the "B" side of your garden, and thanks, too, for the memory of those old 45's. Sometimes I liked the "B" side better than the hit side! You have an abundance of flowers, and so much foliage interest. All very pretty, from any side. I do admit, however, that sometimes, things do look better from another point of view. I am constantly wading into my flower beds to get just the right angle on a photo!

    1. I think we all try to finagle the best angle for our photos. I find myself focusing more on individual plants, usually flowering plants, than on the overall composition because the latter still hasn't quite jelled...

  3. This is such a great exercise. It's nice to see your garden looks great from either side.

    1. It's still a work in progress (like most gardens!). The change in perspective is helpful to future planning, though.

  4. I love this post. I am old enough to remember the "B" side of hit singles (which I often preferred to the hit)and it is great as a metaphor for looking at your garden from a different angle. I am most aware of the B side of my own garden when I look back at the back garden and the house from the edge of the woods (not the usual vantage point of those traveling along the garden's paths).

    I do "Garden Blogs of the Month" feature on my blog, Jean's Garden, where I review and recommend recently discovered blogs that I think my readers would enjoy. Your blog is one of three that I am highlighting this month. My post reviewing your blog just went up, and your blog will be featured on my sidebar throughout the month.

    1. Jean, thanks so much for visiting my blog and for including it on your "blogs of the month" list. I'm honored!