Little Front garden of Villa Landwijk

– Posted in: Garden Design

Written by Harry Pierik

It’s always a treat to receive Harry’seasonal  post and photos. They are a feast for the eyes. For more information on Harry, check out his website. Fran Sorin

In this post, I want to introduce another garden I designed.


Flower field right on busy shopping street.

Barely a hundred meters from my hidden city garden, in the direction of the city centre, you can find the colourful front garden (of approximately 40 square metres) of Villa Landwijk, which I designed in 2008.

This villa was built in 1884 by the Foundation of St. Vincent, a Roman Catholic charity association. Landwijk served as orphanage to foster neglected children. But two years after the construction, this building was taken over by a gardener, who started selling cultured flowers from the house. About a century later – only a few years ago – this building was threatened to deterioration. It stood empty and was occupied illegally, but nowadays it looks refurbished and inhabited again. To me the challenge here, right on busy Main Street called Assendorperstraat, to develop a rich front flower garden.


A gardener made the garden ready to plant. A fluent bricked path leads to the front door at present.


The garden has just been planted.


One year after construction

I chose the colors of the flowers and leaves to fit the warm tones of the façade and brick wall of the neighbors. I have also added contrasts in brown, purple, lilac and blue. Not bothered by hedge or fence, this flower bed arises straight from the pavement.


Patchwork with amongst others Potentilla suffruticosa “Red Ace”, with Geranium “Rozanne” and various Heuchera plants.

‘ Less is more ‘ serves as the starting point of all my designs. But then so, as to carefully compose a rich detailed completeness. Repetitive rhythms of shape, texture and color, all merging into the flower bed. Oneness of trees, shrubs, perennials, bulb flowers, ferns and grasses.

This is reached, among other things, by using just slightly different variants of certain plant species, in a mutual flower bed. And not in large groups, but in a natural way, dispersed here and there.

This little front garden asks for roses . Especially the fully double and fragrant roses that match the warm tones of the façade.


Rich detailed completeness with details such as Sedum “Matrona”, Aster lateriflorus “Prince”, Verbena bonarienis and Rosa Bonica 82”.

A strong rose with a natural vigorous shrub shape is the rich repeat-flowering weatherproof Rosa “Bonica 82”, bearing large sprays of romantic, rose-pink fragrant flowers. Because insects are able to reach the heart of the fully double flowers, even substantial orange hips appear after flowering. Rosa “The Fairy” is also indestructible. A ground covering rose with abundant, small pointed glossy leaves, which is almost continuously flowering with countless rosette candy pink cushion-formed flowers.


Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Orangefield’ behind Ligularia dentata “Othello”, Rosa “Belvedere” on the right.


Rosa “Pink Meidiland” is a healthy salmon-pink shrub rose of which the petals fade during bloom, showing a dotted pattern. She has golden-yellow stamens and nicely shaped hips.


Rosa “Just Joey”, the sweet-smelling hybrid tea rose has dark green leaves with copper red ends. The elegant buds develop into flowers with amber orange petals, curly framed. Her name is the result of a misunderstanding. The breeder intended to name this collector’s item to his wife, Joey Pawsey, however because the pronunciation of her surname Pawsey seemed difficult, he was asked to call this rose just “Joey”. And so it became “Just Joey”.

Surrounded by a tapestry of Prunella grandiflora, Geranium “Rozanne” flowers endlessly with lilac-blue petals, from June till frost sets in.


Liriope muscari, Brunnera macrophylla “Jack Frost” and Rosa “The Fairy”.

Prominent in the foreground develop grape hyacinths in a tussock of grass and that while it is still autumn? Liriope muscari is of the same family as Ophiopogon planiscapus “Niger” and of Lily of the Valley. From clumps of dark green, grass-like leaves, arise upright stems after summer. With purple bead-shaped flowers which resemble those of Muscari. All kinds of real Muscari Botryoides show here, during April and May, next to a variety of Daffodil, botanical Tulips and other bulbs.


The construction of this flower bed, slightly emerging towards the wall, is somewhat interrupted by the tenuous, square stems of Verbena bonariensis with her lilac flower shields. Because of their vigorous transparent growth, they are allowed to spread throughout the garden, also in the front. More at the rear end flower Monkshoods and through the shrubs weave various purple-blue Clematis climbers.




During the making of the garden, a passer-by suggested that I would be better off putting a little fence or hedge. Of course, everything of value is defenseless and that certainly goes for greenery in public. But I am utterly convinced beauty commands respect. A few years after construction the front garden of Villa Landwijk right on the busy shopping street, with buses, cars, cyclists and strollers, has developed into a small flowering valley, where many stop to listen to the humming bumblebees and the buzz of the bees.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

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Fran Sorin
7 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Greggo November 23, 2011, 5:55 am

Less is more? Or is it More is Less here? Good design.

I treat the concept of ‘ less is more’ completely different than is usually done. In my view, it’s not about using as few as possible species of plants to create a strong effect.
No big clusters of plants, but rather a finely woven harmony. It certainly isn’t more is less, quite the contrary. The effect of a richly detailed unity may only be achieved by carefully selecting plants that go well together. Moderation is in place. One cannot simply put every plant together. It has to be carefully composed. In that sense, less is more. Harry

Yasemin November 23, 2011, 5:57 am

Wow! What a beauty! I wish I had such a gorgeous flowering garden around the windows… Great work!
I managed to grow tiger lilies in my “garden” on the roof terrace this summer and was very proud of it. But I hope one day I’ll be able to arrange something near to your beautiful projects…

Thank you Yasemin.
Beside posts on my hidden city garden, I’ll show more of the gardens I designed.

susan hirsch November 23, 2011, 10:03 pm

the design is so charming and yet so fresh – great plant pallet!

Thank you Susan.

Penelope Bianchi November 24, 2011, 2:27 am


Thank you Penelope.

gardening November 25, 2011, 7:05 am

I think this garden looks absolutely stunning. To me I find a garden with a bit of wildness so much more attractive than one that is perfectly neat.

Thank you. Every garden I design must meet one requirement: The longer you look, the more details you discover. The garden’ll never get boring that way.

Raffi / November 25, 2011, 8:17 am

Really, really nice. So much better than boring lawn. A lot more interesting and no mowing!

No mowing, but: regular weeding, especially in the beginning, and a creative pruning at least once a year.

Céline Salisbury November 29, 2011, 2:52 am

Great mix of colours without being too bold and flashy. I like the use of heights of plants.
Must be a haven for butterflies !

Indeed Celine, despite the fact that this garden is located on a very busy shopping street, there are many butterflies to be found here on sunny days.

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