Yellow esperanza is the first in line of many blooms across the Powell front yard on Nance St.
Photo by Sharon Lockett
Above, coral vine elevated on wire cages provides privacy and backdrop for potted red bougainvillea and periwinkles.
Photo by Sharon Lockett
Inset, coral vine and bougainvillea bloomed together in November behind a limestone boulder.
Photo by Jenny Powell
A gravel walkway between a curbside garden and foundation plants includes another red crape myrtle plus irises and garden ornaments. Inset, Esperanza or yellow bells shine curbside in Powell front yard in December.
Photos by Sharon Lockett
Red turk’s cap and lantana edge left side of yard in front of red crape myrtle and potted bougainvillea with ligustrum in background.
Indigo spires of salvia contrasts with red bougainvillea and pink periwinkles in the Powell front garden for the December Yard of the Month.
Yard of the Month
Closing out the year with flowers still in bloom, December’s Yard of the Month is an example of turning the front yard into an eye-catching garden that is also low-maintenance and drought-resistant. Ten years ago, Spring Lake Garden Club featured this same home, a 1920s structure on Nance Street between San Antonio Street and Martin Luther King Drive, where Jenny Powell has lived for 18 years. In 2013, Powell’s landscape consisted of numerous potted plants lining the steps of her front porch, but after screening the porch she concentrated on planting directly in the ground. The shallow yard allows for a gravel path behind curbside plantings, but no lawn to water or mow.
Tall wire cages elevate pink coral vine (and a couple of tomato cages near the house) and provide Powell’s garden with as much privacy as large shrubs, but with the added benefit of flowers and butterflies. Some less cold-tolerant plants remain in large blue ceramic pots which can be moved to protection in cold weather, but meanwhile, these containers conserve precious water. Powell cuts back all plants in the spring and renews mulch in the beds, but densely-planted beds shield roots from harsh sun in summer and insulate plants from cold and wind in winter. Still, occasional browsing by deer (yes, so close to downtown) threaten blooms of her roses — one red knock-out and a pink Belinda’s Dream — as well as non-native plants.
A tall yellow esperanza (yellow bells) anchors one front corner of the yard, joined by a curbside line of other smaller flowers — red turk’s cap, blue plumbago, purple lantana and spiderwort — with a crape myrtle (watermelon red in bloom) and nandina’s red berries in the background. An entry sidewalk midway through the yard divides front beds, with coral vines and red bougainvillea on the right behind a massive limestone boulder. This decorative rock was gift from friends at Cafe on the Square where Powell served for many years.
Nearby deep blue spikes of indigo spires salvia accompany a small rosemary which replaces one lost to prolonged freezes. A long planter box of dark pink and white periwinkles beside blue plumbago and a second crape myrtle (also red) fills the remaining space by the driveway, with young spider lilies near the curb. Other plants in the front beds include purple heart vinca, Mexican petunia (ruella), and a pot of Gregg’s mist flower.
Not visible from the street is a gravel pathway dividing curbside plantings from beds next to the house, including the tomato cages and a pot of Swiss chard on the other side of the front walk. The pathway eases access to plants along its length, for maintenance and occasional watering. Other garden hardscape includes long wood timbers holding bricks in line beside the curb and along the gravel walk, and large stones as bases for planter pots. Powell has also collected “reclaimed” stepping stones and animal figures to add even more interest to the garden. Bird houses and feeders are placed in the fenced back yard for privacy and safety from roaming cats.
Even after the inevitable winter freeze, Powell will continue to maintain this remarkable landscape and all the flowers and joy it offers.