I was oh-so-proud of myself in creating my latest garden corner. I tried something different for me when it comes to my garden: advance planning. Our first order of backyard business had been to landscape around the deck. With foundation shrubs planted, fertilized and struggling to grow, I found myself itching to add a bit more color, and a bit more in the way of blooming perennials. My husband was a bit more reluctant to break through the borders of that mulched space.
“But that’s so big,” Chris gasped when I drew the proposed garden lines out with a garden hose.
I raised my eyebrows and gestured to the backyard expanse. We could easily fit a second house, or a full soccer field, in that empty space. My little nook was hardly going to make a dent.Knowing I wouldn’t win him over with such arguments, however, I tried a different tactic for getting Chris to embrace my garden plot: order. Between the Marines and his tidy mother, my man is the king of “everything in its place.” Sometimes I can squint and see the little boy he must have been, lining his shoes up neatly in his closet and ordering stuffed animals on the shelf according to height. Suffice to say, I was never so neat a child and even the consideration of advance planning in my messy space was an achievement indeed.
With the space mapped out, I took under consideration bloom times, height and color coordination. My kind mother-in-law had given me several bundles of richly purple bearded irises that had grown into their own this spring and a batch of delicate Siberian irises that I simply can’t give away fast enough as the healthy bulbs are overtaking my gray-green azaleas. Those azaleas and a limp camellia halfheartedly bloom in light pink in the early spring (and will be the subject of intense fertilization, proper pruning and close scrutiny in the season ahead). A few happy white candytufts overrun from my front garden had been poorly replanted in the back and were waiting proper attention. This is the combination that set my palette on my first trip to Meadows Farms.
I towed along on this trip Chris – anxious to prove that I was listening to his request for “more interesting” leaves – as well as the sales ad, determined to keep this within a reasonable budget. Into the cart ultimately leapt five “Sweet Drift” roses; two “Obsidian” Coral Bells, and three “May Night” Hybrid Sage.
I began the pizza wedge of garden with my go-to border, those white candytufts. I came to love this pernnial this spring, partly because it’s done better than anything I’ve planted, and partly because it launched the blooming season in early March. Behind these perky perennials I dug a row for the roses, whose early blooms were stubbornly clinging to their tiny thorned stems. Per their tag, the Drift groundcover roses are hardy zones 4-11 and want full sun. “The small shrubs produce clear pink double clusters atop dark green glossy foliage.” The characteristics that have had me watching this new variety are its “abundant, continuous flowering and exceptional disease resistance.” A rose I don’t have to spray weekly? Sign me up. The plant is said to grow 2.5 feet wide and 1.5 feet tall. I’ll keep you posted.
Next up, in the center, I hefted a large blue pot of less-than-happy yellow knock-out roses left over from last year. I like incorporating some type of hardscaping into each and every garden as I believe it adds visual interest and breaks up the softness of green and ever-changing blooms. On either side of the pot I added my Coral Bells. Per the tag from Saunders Brothers, this plant has “smooth, broad foliage [with] a polished, black luster. Forms a compact mound. Creamy white flowers on red stems bloom in June. An excellent contrast plant in borders…” The growers advise sun or part sun, note it can grow 10 inches tall by 16 inches wide, and add that the plant is hardy to zones 4-9. I liked that the bloom time would give the garden some interest later in the summer and that the leaves coordinated with my purple theme.
In the back, hugging Bells and pot, I added my tall, spiky sage. Also from Saunders brothers, the tag notes that the plant’s “deep indigo-violet flower spikes bloom in the summer and fall above compact, aromatic foliage.” What made Chris smile was the note that the flower will bloom repeatedly if spent flowers are removed. It’s a full sun addition, expected to grow 1.5 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
I used a landscaping fabric over the entire area, at Chris’ insistence. In this case, I laid everything in place prior to digging, to leave room for future stepping stones that will allow access on the left, to the half-hidden AC units, and on the right, to harvest my blueberries and ripe strawberries. I also sought to leave room for later floral additions as the seasons change. I’m already anticipating a few purple daylilies in the back and some soft lavender asters come fall. A full helping of mulch (courtesy of several autumns’ worth of chopped leaves) was the final step in creating this scented oasis.
It wasn’t until creeping outside early the next morning, robed and barefoot on the splintering deck, that I discovered the best part of this new addition. From the Adirondack chairs perched near the railing, I had a perfect view of my butterfly-welcoming new additions.