Our front yard in late April

I haven’t done a “our yard in the month of xyz” post in a while, mostly because things were slow in taking off this year due to unseasonably cool weather. Now, however, spring is here with a vengeance. Plants that were just poking out of the ground last week are in full leaf this week. The planting strip outside the front yard fence is beginning to resemble the tapestry of color we so love. Finally the time of year is here when you can see changes from one day to the next.

The bed inside the front yard fence may not look like much from a distance, but the ornamental grasses are going great guns, and herbaceous perennials like penstemons, echinaceas and salvias are trying to catch up.

Planting strip inside our front yard fence

Our yellow lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa) is continuing to leaf out, but the clump looks a bit off balance since the mother plant flowered last year and died.

Musella lasiocarpa (foreground left)

The variegated Eureka lemon (Citrus limon ‘Eureka Variegated Pink’) behind the banana is having its best year yet (it’s been in the ground for three years now). The variegation in the leaves is very strong and there are more flower buds then ever.

Citrus limon ‘Eureka Variegated Pink’

The main succulent bed looks better than ever, now that most anchor plants are reaching maturity. The coral aloe (Aloe striata) is flowering, added an element of red that is normally absent.

Succulent bed next to front door

Outside the front yard fence, a lot is happening. Early bloomers like Cape balsam (Bulbine frutescens), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas ‘Otto Quast’), Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) and Hot Lips sage (Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’) are providing cheerful pops of color.

Planting strip outside the front yard fence
In this corner, yellow is the dominating color at this time of year
Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa)
A wider view

A few days ago, a clump of Cooper’s hardy ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) started to bloom, and its fluorescent purple flowers can be see from across the street. This ice plant is reputed to be hardy to zone 5 but requires good drainage in wet-winter areas.

120421_fy_yellow purple
Cooper’s hardy ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) breaking up the yellow from Cape balsam (Bulbine frutescens) and Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa)
Cooper’s hardy ice plant (Delosperma cooperi)

Red hot pokers (Knipfhofia uvaria) are starting their springtime show as well, their flower stalks rising from mounds of strappy leaves.

Red hot poker (Knipfhofia uvaria)
Red hot pokers (Knipfhofia uvaria)
Red hot pokers (Knipfhofia uvaria)
Red hot pokers (Knipfhofia uvaria)

The space around the Bradford pear tree (Pyrus calleryiana ‘Bradford’) in the photo below has been notoriously difficult to cultivate because the tree roots suck up most of the moisture and nutrients. After trying and failing with Mediterranean perennials—things like spurge, coral bells and sage—I switched to succulents last fall and I’m cautiously optimistic.

Area around the Bradford pear tree. See below for an explanation of the numbers.
[1] is a recent purchase from Annie’s Annuals, Drosanthemum micans, an ice plant with very colorful orange and red flowers (photo here)
[2] is a Calandrinia spectabilis, a Chilean perennial with purple flowers that blooms from late spring to fall
[3] in the photo above is a red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora). The one I planted is still small, but it will one day look like the Wikipedia photo above.
[4] is a variegated Aloe arborescens I bought at a recent UC Davis Arboretum plant sale. This variegated cultivar used to be rare but is now becoming more widely available.
[5] is this new succulent rack up against the house.
This spot gets partial sun between noon and 6pm. I think it will be a great place for succulents because they are somewhat protected from the worst of the afternoon sun which can fry even the toughest succulent when they’re in a pot.
Right near the new rack above is the curved succulent table

This post is the baseline for all other front yard-related posts this year. I’m excited to see how everything will in the months to come.


  1. Gerhard, I'm really green with envy right now - how gorgeous everything is looking in your garden! Really WOW! My favourite is the main succulent bed - just stunning!

    1. Thank you. That succulent bed is my pride and joy. It was such a ugly spot before. Poor drainage AND hot sun in the afternoon made for a challenging combination where few plants survived for more than a year. Building a mounded bed with a fast-draining soil mix changed all that.

  2. I like how one of your prettiest planting beds (at least right now) is on the outside of your fence, for the neighborhood to enjoy!

    Why did I think you already removed those red-hot pokers? Maybe you said you were thinking about it.

    1. Our goal was to beautify the neighborhood and inspire others. And it did work. I see more and more neighbors making changes to their front yards.

      I did remove one huge clump of red hot pokers. Two clumps are left but I like them so much, I may just divide them instead of taking them out altogether.

  3. Just yesterday my husband mentioned how much he missed our Chinese Yellow Banana, it too bloomed and then the pups had a hard time of it with back to back arctic winters.

    I too love the planting area outside your fence, so wonderful when people beautiful the neighborhood!

    1. The yellow lotus banana doesn't look anywhere near as good as it did last year, but I'm hoping that in a few months the pups will have grown significantly. I miss the lush look.

      I've tried five times now to separate a pup from the clump but they don't seem to have roots of their own so all you get are severed pseudostems that won't root. Frustrating since I've really wanted to send one to Alan.

  4. Wow Gerhard, spring has finally arrived in your garden indeed and it's looking great already, and it's still about to get even better too! Loads of your plants are filling up their spot nicely, shrubs, succulents, and others.

    Love the variegation of the Eureka lemon, and seeing your Agave 'Quadricolour' again, you might be interested to know that your specimen has inspired me to re pot mine hoping it will speed up its growth, hoping it will look similar to yours soon. Love the Delosperma cooperi with its cheerful intense pink blooms :)

    1. Now is also the time of year to check for plants that haven't come back and replace them. We always have some casualties. Plus, picking out replacements is fun!

      My Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' has at least a dozen pups. I will need to separate some and pot them up. It really is a beautiful agave. I have one in a spot that is mostly shaded and its coloration is even better.

  5. I have recently discovered the joy of succulents, just as I have recently discovered your garden and blog. Looking forward to getting better acquainted with both.

    1. Welcome to my blog, Missy! I hope you'll get a chance to read some of my older posts. If you have any questions, just let me know!

  6. Everything is looking so wonderful! And that front bed of succulents is doing so well. Love that beautiful aloe blooming! And yea for your new succulent rack. I remember you talking about that. And I love the pokers, don't take them out.


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