December 17, 2004

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division


The Dream -------- Reality

Recently, I received in the mail the spring catalogs from Wayside Gardens and Park's Seed. Now that we're just a few days away from the winter solstice, I feel I can legitimately sit down and start combing through them for ideas. My gardening friends out there will appreciate what fun this is.

I have two basic projects this year. First, I plan to add to my sunny perennial garden. (In that respect, I note that Wayside is offering a new double purple Echinacea that really looks rather vile. Some plants look well as doubles. Coneflowers are not among them.) To this end, I'm pretty much looking for specimen plants. Any suggestions for a good, hearty, drought-resistant flower suitable to Zone 6/Zone 7 would be appreciated.

Second, I've already laid out the boundaries for a shade bed I'm going to put in on the west side of the house. It's about twenty feet long or so and bookended by a couple of large trees. I plan to outline the back and sides with hostas, but am now thinking about some low, flowering plants to put in as well. Lily-of-the-Valley, probably, but I haven't thought much about what else I might include. If you have some favorites, I'd love to hear about them.

Posted by Robert at December 17, 2004 03:04 PM

I've favored columbines and hellebores in my shady areas...and as an extra they are (at least for me) rabbit-proof. I don't have too many bright ideas for low shade perennials that are summer-blooming, but I know they're out there. For fall, the ugly-named toad lily (Tricyrtis) has done well for me, but needs some rabbit protection. Have fun!

Posted by: Chan S. at December 17, 2004 06:42 PM

Gloriosa daisies (yellow brown) or shasta (white) daisies can be nice, very drought resistant, too. I also like earlier blooming Iris mixed in with clumped lillies as they replace one another in late spring. Overseed with cleome (spider plant) and you're high and colorful all year in the back, or back middle - if you go with old fashioned hollyhock in the far back. Also, lavendar can be a nice intermixed planting, I love scent. They're fine for cold winters and dry summers.

Depending on the shade level, if you do foxglove, they're pretty magnificent, and are a shade plant. Good luck.

Posted by: Dan at December 17, 2004 09:25 PM

How about ornamental oregano Kent Beauty for your perennial sun area? Hardy 6-9, dry to medium moisture, pretty pinky-purple tipped leaves.

Posted by: Nicole at December 17, 2004 10:36 PM

Oh, and aren't columbines shade flowers? I put begonias on the edge of my shade bed last year and they did great in between the hostas. I also had great luck with foxglove (as suggested earlier by Dan.)

Posted by: Nicole at December 17, 2004 10:39 PM

When they thrive, Bleeding Heart are pretty spectacular in shade. Something that I've noticed is that Black-eyed Susans are controllable in a shade bed. They aren't nearly as prolific, nor do they spread, but the intense yellow is very nice mixed in with the hostas.

Posted by: Ted at December 17, 2004 11:05 PM

Painted ferns ;) love 'em. Actually, I'm in a big fern phase right now (coming out of my hostas phase) - but hostas are still nice. Make sure you include one of those gorgeous HUGE blue hostas.

Posted by: carin at December 18, 2004 02:35 PM

Thanks, all! Keep those suggestions coming!

I've actually got a big belt of columbine in the garden that I started from seed last year. Ditto shasta daisies and black eyed susans. I've got a couple of bleeding heart out by the front door, but I may put some more in the new bed.

Several of you mentioned foxglove. These are one of my very favorite flowers. As it happens, I plan to do an entire bed devoted to them at some point in the future.

All of your other suggestions are good 'uns too, which I plan to research further.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by: Robert the LB at December 18, 2004 05:16 PM
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