- I have been waiting for the perfect photo op to show them at their best.
- After seeing some of your beautiful and extensive gardens, I am afraid that you will throw down your mouse in disgust and proclaim, " She calls herself a gardener??"
So I sit here feeling as exposed as Jamie Curtis when she posed in her underwear without the benefit of airbrushing for a magazine spread some time ago. But here goes . . .
First, let me show you what I have to work with. This is the view from my small front porch where I enjoy my morning coffee watching the birds--especially the hummingbirds, who love to visit as long as I don't have a camera in hand:)
I am blessed with many lovely trees, but when we moved here four years ago there were just the trees and a few shrubs, not a flower in sight. The first area I planned to tackle was this triangular area along the sidewalk leading from the driveway to the front door. I wish I had "before" pictures to show you, but I don't, so you'll just have to take my word for how much work I had to do to create this flowerbed. You may notice a familiar sight reminiscent of Mr. McGregor's Daughter's "green moustache"--the overgrown yews at the back of this area. I thought I had convinced Husband, aka Mr. Procrastinator, to pull them out the first spring, but he backed down. I'm tempted to take a chainsaw to them myself, if I wasn't afraid of lopping off a few fingers in the process.But these green monsters were not my first concern. This area was completely covered with landscape rock, so the first order of business was to remove all the rock. I removed many shovelfuls in the fall and then started again in the spring. After removing the top layer of rock, I discovered that underneath was even more rock! I am not exaggerating when I say the rock was at least 6 inches deep. I shoveled, picked, and sifted through the rock and soil until I got down to the clay underneath. As the first of May grew near, I finally broke down and asked my husband for help; he used a loader on a small tractor to scrape up most of the remaining rock--along with some soil and the tulips I had planted the previous fall. Finally, I could prepare this bed for planting--it took 1800 pounds of topsoil to completely cover it!
That first spring I started with a design for part of the flowerbed: Russian sage in the back, the Knockout roses I had been given as a gift the previous summer and transplanted hastily in the rocky soil when we moved, "Autumn Joy" sedum in front of those, and the salvias "May Night" and "East Friesland" in front of the sedum. I put this antique buggy seat which belonged to my mother-in-law and two containers for annuals in the middle of the bed as a focal point--and to fill up some space! I remember planting some daisies and a few other small perennials that lasted only the first season. I added quite a few annuals, but I still had quite a bit of empty space.
In Year Two of the flowerbed the design I had in mind got tossed out, and I planted what I liked regardless of how they fit in--some coneflowers at the back, a baby's breath plant, a threadleaf coreopsis and a nepeta. And more annuals to fill in the empty spaces . . . By the end of that summer, the perennials were thriving and growing beyond their alloted spaces, and I decided I needed to give some of them more room. So on a warm day in early April of Year Three of the "garden," I dug up most of the original perennials except for the Russian sage, and moved them all forward. The next day, we had a hard freeze, and I was sure I killed them all. Fortunately, they survived, although the one Knockout Rose has never been quite the same . . . That summer I added the asters and a new nepeta to replace the first one which mysteriously died.
This brings us to this year--Year Four of the original flowerbed. This year I added three small Monardas, "Petite Delight," which have yet to bloom, but that was all! I have finally achieved one goal--the whole flowerbed is filled with perennials, except for the container plantings and the alyssum bordering the sidewalk, although some of those were the results of self-seeding last year. It does look like a jungle, though, doesn't it? I keep studying it and thinking what I might remove to make it look more orderly. I haven't decided yet, but there is one important lesson I have learned from this experience:
When the tag on a perennial says to allow 24" for spacing between plants . . . .
Now let's move on to what I loosely call "the shade garden."
Finally, the third flowerbed, which I usually refer to as the roadside bed. I've shown you most of the plants in this area before. Two years ago I decided I wanted to plant some flowers in front of these burning bushes near the road where everyone could see them. Again, I started out small, though when you're trying to till up a grassy area with a large tiller, it seems much bigger than it really is! I kept this area simple, with daylilies, coneflowers, and the annual salvia "Victoria Blue."
This area had been pasture for many years before it was left as a lawn, so the soil was wonderfully rich black dirt. All the flowers planted here have thrived, but I still wasn't completely satisfied with this bed, because it seemed too small for the visual effect I wanted. So this spring, I expanded it, too, so that it stretched across in front of all the burning bushes.
I also have quite a few container plantings placed all around the house as well this built-in planter on the front porch, where the sweet potato vine "Marguarite" threatens to engulf anything in its way.