Welcome to our yard and garden tour! Sit down with a cup of coffee and scroll through the 20+ photos you’ll find of most of the areas that make up our acre property in our semi-rural Oregon town (we’re only 10-15 minutes from town). Links are provided for further details, tutorials, and any tips I’ve found through the years – I hope you enjoy the tour and find inspiration and encouragement to create beautiful areas of your own!
Our yard and garden has changed into a lush landscape compared to what it looked like when we bought it in 2004. In fact, you couldn’t even see the front door! Creating curb appeal and beauty for our visitors and our family was the goal, as well as growing as much of our own food as possible.
Take a look around at the changes 12 years have brought, as well as the tips we’ve learned and the plants we love.
Cottage Garden Tour
Front Yard & Garden
To see what our house looked like before, including the front garden, visit:
1982 Ranch to Farmhouse Cottage (with the original color, which we later changed to the yellow you see above)
Front Side Yard
The side yard consists of a pink dogwood to honor the dogwood that had to be sacrificed to get to the front door and some of the many Hydrangeas I’ve managed to find places for (I think I’m up to 15!) as well as another perennial favorite, Japanese Anemone.
Front Birdbath Garden
This garden is beautiful to look at from both outside and inside – our daughter has enjoyed watching the birds take baths over the years, since her bedroom has the best view of it.
Tip: when planning a garden bed consider what it will look like from the inside as well – that way you’ll avoid the dreaded foundation-plants-that-eventually-cover-the-windows syndrome, which this house had when we bought it.
I have learned from this birdbath, though, that you need a deep bowl (at least 2″) – most of the time this bath is dry, since it’s too shallow and we don’t fill it daily.
Some of my favorite plants here include: Spirea, Huchera, Blue Mist Shrub, Daylily, Boxwood, Hosta, and Hardy Geranium.
Our goal with the entry was to create a welcome for visitors as well as good curb appeal, mainly by removing a tree and creating a path from the circular drive to the front door (this was all one shrub border originally).
It’s not quite symmetrical, but there are a few repeating elements (the tall arborvitae, the variegated corner grasses and potted ivy topiaries). The garden on the right is under a large Japanese maple tree, which is dry shade and the birdbath garden on the left is more moist, which is why hostas do well there, but not under the tree.
In addition to the other plants I’ve mentioned that are in the entire long front garden, the entry is where I placed our two Hellebores (one on each side) since their blooms are so delicate and early and I want everyone to be able to see them.
Front Porch Garden
The only plants here when we moved in were the large Japanese Maple, a few overgrown rhododendrons we removed and a mass of violets that I’ve tried unsuccessfully to eliminate (actually all throughout the property- I think they are my least favorite plant).
Consisting of mostly dry shade, this area has been a bit of a challenge – the Hydrangeas, Boxwoods, and Daylilies just do okay here- they aren’t quite as lush and happy. The best performers I’ve found are Huchera, Brunnera ‘Jack Frost,’ grasses, Fernleaf Bleeding Heart, and Hebe (which I LOVE, even though I thought I lost it during our deep-freeze a few years ago. It came back and you can see it blooming it’s pretty purple blossoms slightly to the left of center above – next to the grass-like daylily leaves).
Pergola Porch Garden
This area used to be the driveway to the old garage we turned into living space. The soil was compacted from years under cement, so we had to bring in many truckloads of amendments to create this space.
Again you’ll find repeating plants here that tie the entire front border together: Hydrangeas, Boxwood, and Arborvitae line the porch edge. Since this area gets more sun, there are more Daylilies, Spirea, Yarrow, Creeping Phlox, Dianthus, and Lamb’s Ears (which is something I’ll avoid, though, in any future gardens!). There are two shrubs on this end of the front border that you’ll find on the other end as well, again to tie it all together: Birds Nest Spruce and Golden Euonymus (though it’s hard to see in the Birdbath garden, since it likes this area better…).
Have you noticed the stepping-stone path that winds throughout all the front areas? This was a middle-of-the-night “a-ha” moment that served three purposes:
- It provides access to all the plants more easily.
- It takes up room so we didn’t have to invest in even more plants.
- It used up some of the ton of concrete we had from tearing up the old driveway pad.
Plus, I really like how it looks! And little kids LOVE to walk through the garden path.
Garage & Side Borders
We added this garage a few years after converting the attached garage into living space. On the side of the house is an easy-to-maintain Bearded Iris border. I’m not a huge fan of Bearded Iris, but the previous owners had a ton of them that I was just able to move – free plants are a good thing!
To the right of the garage is another almost easy-care (minus the Quince…) border with a few more iris, two free Quince bushes (another that I won’t plant again, even though I love their early blossoms), and three Escallonia ‘Apple Blossom’ that have sweet small pink blossoms covering the plant in May and June, but are only marginally hardy here. This protected area next to the garage (western exposure) is the only place they’ve thrived here.
Click the arrow to continue the garden tour with the edible gardens and backyard!