Today’s photos come from Geni Hiestand.
I live in the Sierra foothills in Grass Valley, California. Our front yard was a patch of weeds and clay soil when my husband and I moved in. We love Japanese art and gardens, so I decided to make our front yard into something Japanese-like and have it be low maintenance and deer resistant. We are surrounded by 5 acres of forest, and the deer think that this is their front yard as well. Finding things that they don’t like was challenging. I have our driveway lined on both sides with Provence lavender. I use lots of different berberis, because the deer won’t touch them and they are drought resistant. They also bring color to the garden after all the irises and peonies have finished blooming.
We started with pea gravel and brought in rocks that were on the property to form a Japanese look. We created mounds of red and wooly thyme (Thymus praecox, Zones 4–9, and Thymus pseudolanuginosus, Zones 5–8). Elfin thyme (Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’, Zones 4–8) works really well around the rock placements—better than traditional moss with the intense heat that we have here.
I love peonies (Paeonia sp., Zones 4–8), but the deer don’t. A perfect match!
Peony ‘Pastel Splendor’ is one of the Itoh hybrids, named for Japanese breeder Dr. Toichi Itoh, who hybridized herbaceous peonies with tree peonies to create this group of peonies with large, beautiful flowers and very vigorous growth.
One morning I discovered a frog prince on one of the unopened peony blooms, and he waited for me to get my camera!
Osakizuki Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Osakizuki’, Zones 6–8) is so gorgeous in the fall with its bright red leaves.
A ruby dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Ruby’, Zones 5–8) also has impressive fall color.
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