Sunday, 31 July 2011

Container Gardening While Facing East

What Could I Grow in the Front 'Garden'?

This is what has been uncovered, so far, in our front 'garden'. It's a small space with big potential, in my opinion, despite its easterly aspect and it's ancient cobbles.

As this is the first thing you see when you arrive at our house, it's only natural that I want it to look presentable, but it also has to be in keeping with the rest of the street. Many of the houses here, including ours, have Listed Building status, so the cobbles are of historic interest.

I was delighted to discover that the original cobbles lay preserved beneath their layer of concrete, but cobbles don't make for the best growing medium. Container gardening has to be the way forward here, as it's going to be a bit like cultivating a patio.

A little bit of research shows that there are many colourful and interesting plants that could do well facing east, so long as we look after them properly. Climbing roses, clematis, honeysuckle, fuschias, pansies, nasturtiums, geraniums... the list goes on and on, including most bulbs, so there's no shortage of variety for spring & summer flowers. It's where to start that's my problem.

At the point of moving into the house, I sat my existing window boxes out, along with a pair of juniper bushes. These have done OK so far, although the begonias didn't like their new home at all. The nasturtium seeds grew without a problem and the marigolds seem to be doing well, but it's not much to look at, at the moment.

Having now uncovered the first half of the cobbles, I've left a concrete border along the edge and plan on leaving the path to the front door. What I would like to do is plan a container garden that will sit well within this space, making the cobbles the main feature while still creating a productive garden. The name of the game, afterall, is microholding, so even this cobbled area needs to produce something alongside any flowers I may plant.

Planning hasn't really begun for this project yet, but I am open to any suggestions regarding what could be grown here without it looking like a mish mash of pots. I'd like year round colour, or at least foliage, everything needs to stay in containers and it needs to be able to stand up to only a few hours of early sunshine during the latter part of the year, when temperatures will also plummet. A tall order, perhaps, but it's a challenge that I think I'll enjoy tackling, especially if it can be kept as low maintenance and low budget as possible.

If anyone has any thoughts or ideas for how I might proceed, please let me know. And lest anyone forgets, this all has to be done within a very frugal budget, as it isn't exactly a top priority in a renovation project. Oh, and I don't have any bulbs or flower seeds, so it's very much a case of starting at the beginning.

I do intend planting up some tubs with an assortment of daffodils, tulips, crocuses, snowdrops etc, but that's all dependent on what friends and family have available at the end of their gardening year. I'm also hoping that we'll have space cleared in the back garden to build the greenhouse within the next month or two, so that could provide over-wintering for whatever needs extra shelter during the coldest months and also a place for starting off any seeds and/or cuttings.

Your suggestions and comments would be much appreciated to help me with yet another challenge. Documenting the progress is par for the course and I hope that others will be able to learn by any mistakes I may make along the way. You know there have to be a few calamities or gardening disasters, there always are. :)


  1. I would watch out for old chimneys at sales or cadge some off neighbours or friends. They are great for sitting a big plant pot in at either side of your front door, and having trailing ivy (or in my case Rosemary) in at the front and then maybe a Bay tree or something similar behind the ivy. We have them placed at the sides of our doors and then you could have some long lower planters with a mix of flowers and fancy veggies. Beauty and food in a pot...a lovely front garden for a frugal good-lifer.

    I love your cobbles, well worth uncovering.

    Sue xx

  2. Can't wait to see what flowers and plants you choose.
    Will it be like the front of our cottage...which is a lovely sunny place to sit for a morning coffee!

    Sft x

  3. SFT I would LOVE it to look like the front of your cottage! Not sure how we'd manage the arch of honeysuckle and clematis etc, though, as there's no fence between us and the road, only the cobbled drainage ditch. But I'm mulling over how it could be done, especially as Aldi offers include flowering clematis this week. LOL Of course, I will probably do the frugal thing and simply take cuttings from what's already growing in the back garden - plenty of honeysuckle, for starters. :)

  4. I used to have the old chimney pots, but they got left behind may years ago. Rosemary is a must and I'd have loved lavender, but think it likes full sun. Two houses ago had climbing roses up either side of the front door and it looked lovely when they were in bloom, so that's yet another option. :)


Many thanks for taking the time to comment. All comments are moderated to help prevent system abuse by spammers, time-wasters and chancers, so your comment will not appear until it has been manually accepted for publishing. This will be done as soon as possible - I check for updates regularly. We are on GMT - London times.