About two years ago I put in one of my newer beds. It’s situated between the crabapple tree on the north and the sidewalk on the south. A thin strip of lawn separates the bed from the driveway to the east, and on the west is the neighbors’ lawn. Though it gets a bit of shade from the crabapple, this bed gets a lot of hot afternoon sun and is probably the driest of all my flower beds.
I wanted this bed to be no more than 3′ tall and wildlife-friendly. All of the plants attract pollinators, provide seeds for birds, or both.
Plants I have used here includes the following:
Species Tulips (Tulipa praestans ‘fusilier’ and others). As I’ve written before, I love species tulips. Much more perennial than hybrids, the bulbs are smaller and easier to fit into a perennial bed.
Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum). This prairie native forms a drought-resistant, low-growing ground cover. Unique pink flowers in early spring mature into wispy seedheads.
Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia). Harebell is a North American native Campanula. The small, blue, bell-shaped flowers bloom pretty much from early summer to frost. Harebell looks dainty but is actually pretty tough, and can get by without much water. I grew both Harebell and Praire Smoke at the front of this bed along the sidewalk.
Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata). Long-blooming yellow daisies on a 2′ tall, undemanding plant. Mine tended to grow a bit taller and needed staking.
Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’). Scabiosa is one of the few non-native plants in this bed. However, with deadheading the blue pincushion flowers bloom all summer and into the fall. Another easy care plant, I combine it with Coreopsis along the east side of the bed.
Starry Solomon’s Plume (Smilacena stellata). Starry Solomon’s Plume grows only about 18″ high and does well in dryer soils. This North American native has small bunches of white, star-shaped flowers in spring and interesting striped berries in fall. Birds are fond of the berries. This plant spreads by rhizomes, but I find it does not grow thickly enough to really make a good ground cover. An undemanding plant, I’ve got it in the center of the bed.
Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium). One of the best Asters because it stays relatively compact (about 3′) and is not overly aggressive. Also it has many, many small blue-violet flowers in mid- to late-fall.
Anise Scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora). A wonderful (2-3′) compact goldenrod that plays well with others in the garden. I combine this plant with Aromatic Aster towards the back of the bed.
Prairie Dropseed (Sporobulus heterolepis). I planted these along the west edge of the bed. This is a low-growing warm season grass of the prairie. Takes a few years to get established, so in the meantime I’ve filled in with ‘Orange Profusion’ Zinnias. The Dropseed is starting to look good, though.
I’m also trying to grow Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea) in this bed. So far it’s just limping along, but I hope it will grow into more robust shape. I also had planted some Carolina Rose (Rosa carolina) along the west edge. This was a mistake. Carolina Rose spreads very aggressively. It’s also extremely thorny (ouch!). So last fall I pulled it out and replaced it with various Salvias. We’ll see how it looks next year.
What are your favorite plants for dry, sunny spots?