Question of the Week: What Should I Plant in This Raised Bed?
On my parkway there are two raised beds on either side of a young hackberry tree. On the west side of the tree, the raised bed is full of species tulips in early to mid-spring. Later in the summer, it is mostly anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and brown eyed susan (Rudbeckia triloba). Some have suggested this is because I can’t stand to throw volunteers on the compost pile, or because I am cheap. No comment.
These are fine plants, but I have come to feel that they are a little tall (4′ even after they are cut back in spring) and wild for a parkway garden. Given that I have a lot of truly enormous plants toward the back of my front yard, I think it would be better to have lower growing plants in the parkway. This is for my own aesthetic sense as well as to help along the comfort level of the neighbors.
The raised bed is built from pavers and is about 6′ long and 4′ across at its widest point. It gets lots of sun and the soil is loamy but a little on the dry side. To the North of the bed, there is Rudbeckia fulgida, then the curb and street. To the South, there is wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana – outside the raised beds the parkway is mostly covered with this is a groundcover), then the sidewalk.
I have put together a rough plan – and I’d like to know what you think. I’ve done a graphic but for some reason I can’t upload it into the post. So instead I’ll give a brief description of the bed as I envision it.
Edging the sidewalk side of the bed, spilling over the pavers: Either Geranium renadii ‘Tschelda’ or Dianthus ‘Rose Zing’. ‘Tschelda’ is a blue geranium like ‘Johnson’s Blue’, but shorter. I like this possibility because it would echo some Johnson’s Blue on the other side of the sidewalk. On the other hand, I love red, and I don’t have any Dianthus anywhere.
Center/back of the bed: Salvia ‘May Night’ and Downy Phlox (Phlox pilosa). These should provide nice contrasts of color and form. Downy phlox is a prairie wildflower growing to 2′. It’s bright pink flowers and more mounded form should provide a nice contrast to the blue spires of the Salvia. These should provide color in the late spring/early summer. Also, the Salvia will provide repetition for the Salvias along the other side of the sidewalk.
East end of the bed (facing hackberry). Here I’d like to put some Dwarf Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’) to provide interest through summer and fall. This is a perennial I’ve been wanting to try.
West end of the bed. At the very end, I’m thinking some Prairie Dropseed (Sporobulus heterolopsis). Just inside the Dropseed, I’d plant some false mallow (Sidalcea ‘Party Girl’). The Sidalcea is basically a miniature hollyhock (growing to about 3′) with pink to rose flowers that would provide a focal point in summer. OK, I know I said I didn’t want plants that are too tall, but at least a couple of plants can be moderately tall.
So, what do you think? Do these sound like good choices? Once concern I have is that the color is mostly in spring and early summer. On the other hand, there’s all the Rudbeckia fulgida between the raised bed and the curb, which will provide late season color. Then there’s the Sidalcea and the grasses which provide interest later in the season.
Make free with the advice, criticism, and opinions. Talking over garden plans with equally obsessed gardeners can be as much fun as gardening itself.