Monday, April 6, 2015

The Always Unfinished Flower Garden

Some of you may remember that I promised myself I was going to finish my flower garden last year. After working away for the past 4 years I swore up and down that 2014 was the year I would finally complete it.

Siberian Iris 'Caesar's Brother' and perennial Bachelor's Button in June
I'm here to report.  That didn't happen.

This garden is taking off at the speed of a turtle stuck in a pool of honey.  It started out 5 years ago as a small circle around a forlorn apple tree and I thought, well that's just too small.  It looks out of scale against this large house.  So I enlarged it.  A lot.  It's now 50 feet long and 25 feet wide.

It's not that the size was a bad idea.  I love how big it is.  Passerbys can see it from the street.  I can see it from inside the house through my bay windows.  But I didn't take into account how much work it would be to plant all that space.

Oh I tried.  I dug and dug, put in yards of compost and plants.  I have had some good results.  One end of the bed is fully planted and even starting to mature a bit.

The original starting point around the apple tree is now filled in with flowers
I'm quite pleased with some of the plant pairings.  Siberian Iris 'Caesar's Brother' and 'Snow Queen' look wonderful together.

 Late in the season Autumn Joy sedum and blue fescue combine for a cool autumn look.

 This unplanned collaboration of Jupiter's Beard and Evening Primrose was a lovely surprise.

The problem was I didn't plant enough plants, nor did I mulch.  And so the weeds took over. For the last couple seasons I have been battling weeds in an attempt to gain my garden back.

those aren't flowers, those are WEEDS
I came close.  There is just a small corner of the garden left to dig over.  I'm ready for that corner this year.  I have bags of mulch on hand ready to fight the good fight, and I have pre-purchased plants so once the ground is dug the space will be promptly filled.

 the left side looks good but the right needs some work
Part of what is slowing me down is that in addition to digging out the weed filled areas I'm constantly assessing and reviewing what I've already done.  It's hard to finish the whole garden when I keep going back and changing things.

That's a garden though isn't it?  As it matures we realize what works and what doesn't.  There's one thing I found that I really don't like.  What do you think of these?

Rudbeckia hirta
It's not that I don't like Rudbeckia.  In fact they're great flowers.  The bees love them and they grow easily from seed.  But they are SOOO ORANGE.  At least they look really orange when they're planted next to a bright pink flower.

Filipendula and Rudbeckia clashing in the August garden
These seeds were originally tossed in as filler and I think it's high time I removed them.  Jody likes them but every time I look at those flowers I cringe.  I have yellow in the garden but the Rudbeckia is not the right shade of yellow in my eyes.  What's your opinion, would you pull them or keep them?

Another issue that was giving me trouble was the spring flowers.  Originally I planted spring blooms all over the bed thinking I should spread them out.  It didn't work.  Cushion spurge sat alone in an island of not quite living perennials.  Tulips sprang out of a sea of dead foliage and looked quite lonely.  So I moved them all.  Grouping them together in one section I planted anemone and columbine, spurge, February daphne, tulips and daffodils.

Anemone are early bloomers in my garden
I'm hoping for a spring explosion this year.  I don't want to hunt and peck all over my garden looking for flowers.  With any luck this will give more impact in one area and later in the season the other areas will take over.

Columbine are the first blooms to follow the bulbs
And so you see why this is taking so long.  I make a choice and then I take it back.  And then I change my mind again.  By the time I get settled the weeds are back and we start all over again.  Wish me luck trying to 'finish' my flower garden this year.