Revamping The Front

It was well over a year ago that I first mentioned our plans to change the front of our home. The basic idea was to remove hardscape and add landscape. We never thought having two doors so close to each other looked right. The original homeowners had plans for a sunroom, so they added this cement patio, stairs, and the odd second door off the interior morning room.

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This summer, we hired a local company to help us realize our dreams for this area.

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The cement was thicker than anyone had imagined, requiring special building saws to cut through the 6-8″ patio. The stairs were beasts made from SOLID cement. This was no job for a basic jackhammer. At the end of the demo, water damage repair, and reconstruction, we loved the look and feel of the new window from outside and in.

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Next began the challenging job we chose to do ourselves of filling in the large hole outside with topsoil and compost — at least six yards worth — then planting the area. This area gets a half day of sun, albeit less in the winter.

I first bought three small-leaf, white rhododendrons, ‘Dora Amateis’, for the area from Whitney Gardens back in May to complement some rhodies on the left side of the front door. In September we selected most of the remaining plants from local nurseries. They include evergreen rhododendrons (‘Royal Purple’), a camellia (C. japonica ‘Nuccio’s Pearl’), and a witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’) which is currently putting on a great autumn show.

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Since I am a proponent of the garden design theory of prospect-refuge, I wanted to plant a tree near our home’s front as a point of refuge. For years I’d planned to move a young Japanese Red Cedar, Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans Aurea’from an awkward location outside the garage, so Hubby kindly dug it out for me, and we transplanted it to its new home at the front of the house. This tree is now 7′ and should max out at 12-15′. I imagine it will be stunningly lit at Christmas each year by Hubby!

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We’re not finished yet! In upcoming weeks I’ll be planting 50 hyacinth bulbs and 100 crocus bulbs along portions of the front edge to go with the hyacinths in the left bed. The middle of the bed will be the site of a bird feeder on a pole, one of many at Coppertop. I plan to surround it with a mass of cosmos every summer. More shots of our new front garden are below.

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