A Spring Update…A Foliage Focus

Things are about to get a little crazy at The Mardi Gras Gardens in the next couple of weeks. The whole “April showers bring May flowers” thing will ensure that the garden explodes with color and flower power!

I’ve got a reputation for being a bit of a flower floozy. Truth be told, I like to get freaky with some sexy foliage, too! I thought this would be a good time to take a stroll through my garden where texture and foliage are the stars and before I start inundating you guys with close ups of the hundreds of flowers that will eventually overtake my garden!

So let’s take a quick stroll through the front gardens…

My front gardens are three separate spaces with three unique personalities. The left garden I call Wild and Wacky since it’s where I started putting a lot of my weird and unusual plants. The right garden has turned into a “cottagesque” mixed border. The hell strip from hell I now lovingly refer to as The Grasslands – you’ll see why in a minute.

From the beginning, I’ve always considered myself a bit of a collector of plants and I’ve taken advantage of the physical divisions of my garden and try to at at least group likeminded ones together.  I don’t always succeed so I’m sure I’m breaking all sorts of garden design rules but it’s truly a reflection of me and what I love about gardening.


The left garden today.

Oh, and who doesn’t love a before and after…


Left garden in 2013.

You may have noticed that I have no sidewalks. My garden flows directly into the street and presents some distinct challenges. For the most part, I love how unique it is and I’m working on some ways to “curb” people’s thoughts about choosing to park on my side of the street.


Callistemon viridiflorus,  Corokia x virgata ‘Mangatangi’, Ozmanathus ‘Sasaba’, Grevillea miqueliana and Hebe ‘Pink Elephant’ are some favorites here.

One of my favorite things over the years is watching my garden expand out over the hardscape. I’m fascinated by the indomitable nature of plants and their insistence of growing wherever they damn well pease! The Iberis sempervirens, Aquilegia ‘Leprechaun Gold’, Rose Campion, gaura and several sedum and carex have made themselves very comfortable in the gravel drive!


I feel fortunate to have this wonderful hardscape come with the house.

Next up is what I once called the Triangle garden but a fellow blogger was touring my garden one day and called it a mixed border so I’ve called it that ever since. It’s definitely mixed up, for sure, chockfull of a variety of plants and major late spring and summer color and flower power.  Right now,  with the exception of some early spring flowering trees and shrubs, the foliage takes center stage.


The right garden today marries strange bedfellows like grevillea, yucca, palm and ozothamnus with various lilies, pierus, roses and LOTS of peonies.  Weird, but it works for me and it sure makes for some fun foliage contrast in spring! 

Another shot from the beginning…


The right garden 2013.

My lot is some weird slanted rectangle. I’m sure there is a name for it but geometry was one of my worst subjects! I’ve always called this area between my driveway and street my “Hellstrip from Hell”. My entire front garden is full sun but this area takes the worst beating. I’ve learned a lot over the years from very smart and talented blogger friends and from gardens I’ve toured and with consistent trial and error (and some idea stealing), I have ended up turning this area into “The Grasslands”.


Tip of the “rectangle ” 2018 beginning to fill in. 

This is a picture from Gooogle maps! I couldn’t find a picture of mine probably because I was terrified of this space.


Tip of the triangle 2013

I got a wild hair late last summer and reimagined most of this area. It’s the first time I feel like I’ve been able to apply a lot of what I’ve learned over the past five years. I’m excited and nervous to see how this area comes to life this summer. I can always change it if I screwed it up!


Eventually groups of Nesella tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass), Stipa gigantea, Stipa barbata, Anementhele lessiniana and Pennisetum spatheolatum will rise above the evergreen cistus, grevillea, archtostaphylos, and callistemon.

It’s a pretty picture is my mind…We’ll see how it plays out!


Archtostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn and my first try and pruning. I hope I didn’t butcher them too badly!


Callistemon seiberi


My oldest and largest Stipa Gigantea with Grevillea miqueliana, Cistus ‘Warley Rose’ and Lagerstreomia ‘Tuscarora’ in the background.

While it’s definitely all about the grasses, lots of parahebe perfoliata, sisyrinchiums, kniphofias, zauchnerias, caryopteris and crocosmias will bring color throughout the early and late summer after the camas finish their stunning display.


My little Tetrapanax papyrifer “forest’ and Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’ in the background signal the end of The Grasslands and the beginning of the Shade/Fern Garden. 

I tend to get a bit of analysis paralysis when I’m writing my blog so it’s taken several days to pull this one together. In that time, it’s crazy how much has changed and how much is beginning to come into bloom! Looks like the May Bloom Day post is going to be a doozy!

I’ll put on my Flower Floozy hat and will see you then!

7 thoughts on “A Spring Update…A Foliage Focus

  1. I don’t know why I didn’t see this post sooner but dammit! I snorted and spit out my iced coffee when I read your 2nd paragraph. I am still laughing. I love it! Your garden looks amazing. The transformation is a complete 360! I hope I get to see it in person one of these days.


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