This month, I planted a perennial garden in front of the house. The curved bed had once had some annuals planted in it, and was covered in pea gravel. It had maybe an inch of topsoil on top of sticky clay, so I'll need to top-dress it with a thin layer of organic compost annually to gradually build up the soil. We added cedar edging that may or may not hold up to our harsh winters - that might be replaced with stone or faux-stone concrete edging eventually.
As I planted, I set the clay from the holes aside - I think I'll play with using it for pottery or seed bombs (there are some former pastures in the ravine that could use some native wildflowers to help prevent noxious weeds from permanently taking hold).
The Japanese lanterns are both cast concrete with solar-powered candle-strength LED bulbs in them, from Victoria's Castart Studios. (Real granite lanterns are thin on the ground here.) The large one marking the start of the path is an example of ikekomi-gata (with a buried base, originally designed for gardens where the tea ceremony was performed), although its twisted base is atypical, and the small one is an oki-gata (small lanterns used to mark a path or draw attention in the garden). If I enlarge the garden and lose the lawn - which is likely, since my perennials are a bit crowded right now and will need a bit of breathing room in a few years - I'd like to add a snow-viewing lantern (yukimi-gata) too, and a tiny water feature with a shishi odoshi (bamboo deer/boar scarer). We are considering adding a rain chain (kusari doi) alongside the entrance (where the current gutter isn't working properly) and wrapping the garden around the path to our door to integrate it into the garden.*
The spiral iron peony supports moved with us from our old house and are made by Calgary's Amazon Iron.
As you can see, the bed is mostly peonies - especially single and Japanese varieties - and irises. It's planted more in a cottage garden style than a formal, zen garden style. Once established, it will be drought-tolerant and relatively fuss-free, and bloom primarily in June and early July.
For my own reference, here's my planting list. (I wish I had done this at my old house!)
1. inherited Potentilla shrub, needs pruning
2. Paeonia lactiflora 'Festiva Maxima' (double, white with raspberry streaks, midseason)
3. Rose bush, variety unknown (single pink), also needs pruning
4. 'Autumn Blaze' maple tree (Acer x freemanii 'Jeffersred' PP4864), a hybrid of red and silver maple
5. likely spot for installation of copper rain chain, since the roof drainage on this corner needs to be fixed anyway - would likely terminate in a basin or small rain garden*
6. 'Canada Red' rhubarb (in front of the white iron planter at the end of the path to our door) - this gets huge and crowds #7 and #11)
7. Iris siberica 'Silver Edge'
8. Lamb's Ears
9. tall bearded Iris 'Superstition' - winterkilled 2016-2017
10. Johnny-jump-ups Viola cornuta Sorbet XP Purple Face 'PAS733563' - self-seeded to spread - in 2016 these needed replenishing, Viola 'Sorbet Black Delight Improved' 'PAS211779' was planted
11. Paeonia lactiflora 'Cora Stubbs' (midseason, Japanese semidouble, raspberry pink with cream petaloids)
between 10. and 12. lantern
12. intermediate bearded Iris sibirica 'Batik' - winterkilled 2016-2017
between 12. and 13. Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound'
13. Paeonia lactiflora 'Mons. Jules Elie' (bomb double, pink, early-to-midseason, known as 'Fuji' in Japan)
14. Iris 'Babbling Brook' (tall bearded iris, light French blue blooms)
between 14 and 15 beside edging: Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound'
15. Paeonia lactiflora 'Raspberry Sundae' (bomb double, pale pink, midseason)
16. Hollyhock Alcea rosea 'Nigra' and 'Creme de Cassis'
17. remaining weedcloth & pea gravel to be removed - Paeonia obovata var. alba seeds (a Japanese species peony with white single blooms, early season, seedlings came up in spring 2016) to be planted here (source: Devonian Botanic Garden a few years back), along with dwarf bearded Iris pumila 'Little Episode' and Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound' beside the edging, and Hollyhock Alcea rosea 'Black Beauty' and 'Queeny Purple'
18. Paeonia 'Morning Lilac' (Itoh hybrid, single-to-semidouble, early season, fuschia)
19. Lamb's Ears Stachys byzantina 'Fuzzy Wuzzy'
20. Paeonia lactiflora x P. tenuifolia 'Early Scout' (early season, single, crimson red)
22. Dwarf Arctic Iris setosa
23. underplanting for lantern: Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound' - partially winterkilled in this spot and replanted
24. Peony 'Pink Cameo' (double, pink, late midseason)
25. Johnny-jump-ups Viola cornuta 'Bowles Black' - self-seeded to spread
between 16 and 25. In 2016 these needed replenishing, although seedlings were coming up; Viola 'Sorbet Babyface' mix was purchased for this purpose.
NB: Edited 13/05/2015 to add crossouts and notes in purple about what was winterkilled and what self-seeded to spread by spring 2015; edited 12/05/2016 to add additional notes in blue; edited 30/06/2017 to add additional notes in green
* This was done in 2015. Terminates in a large white bowl full of stones. Perennials purchased in spring 2015 and planted in this area as we wrap the garden around (numbers are in order L-R starting with the rhubarb):
26. Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound'
27. (in front of 26) Peony (Paeonia japonica) - first bloomed spring 2017
28. (R of 26) Peonia 'Coral Sunset'
29. (R of 28) lamb's ears Stachys - winterkilled 2016-2017, replanted
30. (R of 29) Johnny-jump-ups Viola cornuta from seed
31. (R of 30) bearded Iris 'Tie-Dyed Royal Purple' - winterkilled 2016-2017
between 31 and 32 - stepping stone
32. (R of 31) bearded Iris 'Breakers' - winterkilled 2016-2017
33. (R of 32) Russian Sage - above the large bowl where the rain chain ends - note that anything planted around the bowl itself needs to be able to tolerate having its feet wet - mostly winterkilled by regrowing from roots in spring 2017
34. (in front of 28 and R of 27) Dwarf Arctic Iris
35. (R of 34) Paeonia lactiflora 'Primevere' (anemone form, creamy white guard petals with yellow centre that fades with sun and age)
between 35 & 36 - concrete frog statue
36. (R of 35) Paeonia lactiflora 'Festiva Maxima' (double, white with raspberry streaks, midseason)
This garden can continue to wrap around the porch into the dry area where the lawn refuses to grow; in 2016 we are planting hops there, as we had success in a similar area with them at our old house.