This post is triggered by seeing a local garden in full spring glory mode. It is on quiet suburban street corner and is a bit of a stand out because it is always clipped within an inch of its life. It got me thinking about the concept of the front garden, partly because I do not have one. So today as I took one of my longer walking routes I paid attention to the face property owners present to the world.
Most of the gardens in my street are dominated by native trees and shrubs with exotics planted closer to the house. Some owners have been careful to plant species indigenous to the area. The reserve that takes up one side of the road is slowly being rehabilitated with lots of weed clearing and intensive planting between the trees and along the restored creek banks.
Some newer home owners are bucking this trend, but because of VCAT rulings, trees have been protected and there is a restricted building footprint. Not that this means a garden full of native plants hiding a sympathetic building
Infil housing is happening up the next road, with back and side yards of large properties subdivided off. What looks like a converted Masonic Lodge is actually a new build. The front garden is as uptight as the architecture. The long drive down to a new house takes advantage of the cypress trees next door and has a regimented planting squeezed in on either side of the asphalt.
Most gardens however are typical mixes of traditional plantings and are well maintained. Like this one with the beautiful deciduous magnolia, a plant that is putting on a stunning display all over Melbourne this spring.
A bit further on one of the original farm houses has a neat front garden typical of its era. Down the side are assorted sheds and there is still a nearby dam despite most of the land being given over to housing. Next comes the high tension transmission lines which are a demarcation line between large blocks and significant acreage.
Ahh for the good old days of government owned infrastructure.
I am now well away from any form of footpath, and the air is full of the scent of Sweet Pittosporum Pittosporum undulate, an environmental weed that establishes very quickly and starves surrounding plants of nutrients, water and sunlight. It is a native plant out of its usual rainforest habitat, but is allowed to grow in yards and gardens probably because it looks quite nice and saves on lots of weeding.
There is a distinct change of style as properties are not just homes for people. At least four beautiful horses have stabling just a gate away from the front garden of one home.
A reproduction of maybe a Victorian period home has an impressive front garden and a tennis court and pool down the side. Definitely a lifestyle place and with gorgeous views. Many Canary Island Date Palms Phoenix canariensis feature in front gardens, some indicating the age of the house, but most how much the owner was prepared to spend on landscaping. It is definitely the status plant for large gardens.
There are paddocks now between each house and the frontages are getting wider. This next one is an “Exquisite Executive Residence on 10 acres” according to the For Sale sign.
I turn up a road that runs across the crest of the hills. On the corner is a house that dates back to the time when the area was popular for guest houses and country retreats for people wanting a break away from the city. Deciduous feature trees dominate, with lots of shrubberies and borders.
I am in serious horse country now. It is no longer a house with a showy garden, more a place to enjoy all aspects of the equestrian life. The scent in the air has changed too, freesias have naturalised all along the side of the road.
Less than a half hours walk from home I am well out into the country side. Remnant bushland and paddocks and a couple of alpaca.
Across the other side of the road it is lovely to see an older California Bungalow has been renovated and enlarged rather than bulldozed. Even the windbreak has been kept. No front garden is needed when there is some much beautiful scenery all around.