Tidying up

Saturday was a glorious day in the high 70s, and now that things are starting to emerge, I am turning a critical eye towards tidying up the bed designs, moving things about so that colors do not clash or that textures don’t look to repetitive.

I am working on building a new bed towards the back of the lot; the color scheme is a mixture of pinks, purples, and yellows. I am hopeful that in another year or so, we will add own to the back of our house, but doing so will displace some very large azaleas. I started to cut around the rootball of one of them last year, hoping to stimulate the growth of small roots to help support the transplant when it actually takes place. In the process, I divided off three smaller shrubs, which became the foundation of this bed. I then moved a butterfly bush and planted six day lilies I bought when Jim Massey closed up shop last year.

Saturday, I added to the mix by transplanting some hellebores my neighbor Martha gave me six years ago. They are a lovely mottled rose color and look handsome at the feet of the azaleas.

I moved two autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’) which were on life support at the base of an oak tree to the feet of a hydrangea (‘Endless Summer’ or ‘Penny Mac’, I am no longer sure which). All of them require plenty of water to look their best, and here they are no more than 4 feet from one of my three rain barrels, so they should be okay.

I dug out about 10 gallons’ worth of standard-issue orange daylilies, the kind that thrive by the side of highways and will regenerate from a millimeter of root. Part of them came from the space near my cold frame, and part from the front slope, which is coming together well. I hope to gradually convert the space near the cold frame to a veg garden, as it is on the south side of the lot. In the front slope space vacated by the daylilies, I transplanted some santolina I propagated earlier this winter. All that remains is to fill in the remaining space with dark-leaved plants, maybe Ophiopogon or Oxalis.

I cut back the Elymus ‘Blue Dune’ and thinned out the dead stuff. In the process of combing out, I pulled up some fragments with short roots, so I transplanted them to the left side of the front steps. If they succeed, then great. If not, well, nothing else has survived there yet. It isn’t really what I had in mind in terms of design, but neither was are dirt. We shall see what happens.

I also planted there cardoons I started from seed. I only started growing these plants about two years ago, but I won’t be without them again. Their silvery color and dynamic, broad, spiky foliage give me a lift every time I look at them.

I also moved from the new pink-and-purple bed some asters I got off the plant listserv last year. They are pretty, but far too assertive to be trusted in this new space I put them in the bed I once envisioned growing into a hedge of camellias, which never materialized. I think the bed has too much shade and perhaps too much competition from tree roots as well. We shall see how the asters fare in more dire conditions.

A decent day’s work, I think.


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