Another Plant Delivery, And Taming A Wild Raised Bed

Oh joy, another box of plants have arrived, this time from Bluestone Perennials. With a single exception, all of these are meant for in and around the raised bed at the west end of the parkway. This is an area that gets a lot of sun, and is seldom if ever watered for the simple reason that it is just about the furthest point on my property from the front water spigot.

Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'
Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’

This bed, in my opinion, has gotten a little too wild. It is full of self-sown asters and golden alexander, not to mention big clumps of wild violets. Don’t misunderstand me, I like all these plants. However, I also feel they are not right for parkway beds in an inner ring suburban neighborhood.

Wild Petunia
Wild Petunia with Wild Strawberry

A parkway garden should be densely planted, colorful and rich with texture (like any garden). But it also needs to be reasonably neat and not too tall. With this in mind, last fall I made over the raised bed at the west end of the parkway. Now it’s the turn of the east bed. Outside of the raised beds, most of the parkway is covered in a mixed ground cover of wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), wild petunia (Ruellia humilis), prairie smoke (Geum triflorum), and Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’.

I’m not getting rid of all the plants in the east raised bed. There are three large and vigorous daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Star Struck’) and a growing clump of Ohio spiderwort (Tradescantia ohioensis). There are also bulbs, a mix of species and hybrid tulips. Actually, it was in order to plant tulips that I built the raised beds. That’s because at the time I got rid of the grass on the parkway, the soil was so compacted that I would have needed a pneumatic drill to get any bulbs planted.

This bed and its surrounding area has a kind of random, improvised feel. There’s a good reason for this, namely, that I filled it with plants in a totally random, improvised manner.

Ohio Spiderwort
Ohio Spiderwort blooms at the top of grass-like stems.

But all that is going to change. (As I write this, I am wondering – should I transplant that Ohio spiderwort after all?)

Thanks to the new delivery from Bluestone Perennials, I am going to achieve a new look. Here are the plants:

  • Calamint (Calamintha nepetoides).  This is a bushy, drought tolerant plant about 1-2′ tall. In summer it is covered with tiny white flowers much loved by the bees.  This will provide repetition to the calamint at the west end of the parkway.
  • Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’. Yeah, I know many new varieties of hardy Geranium are supposed to be better, but this cultivar is an old friend who has performed well for me. Small blue flowers in spring, plus finely cut foliage. There’s already clumps of this cultivar in other front garden beds.
  • Salvia ‘Carradonna’.  A 2′ Salvia with deep purple flowers spikes. Again, a repetition of the west end of the parkway.
  • Sundrops ‘Summer Solstice’ (Oenothera tetragona).  This cultivar has 2′ flower spikes with clear yellow flowers in late spring and early summer.
  • Miniature Hollyhock (Sidalcea malviflora ‘Party Girl’.) This is a bit of an experiment. I LOVE hollyhocks, and I used to grow them. Eventually this became impossible due to devastating rust problems. Sidalcea is supposed to be rust resistant. We’ll see. It grows to only 3′ and has only pink and rose flowers, not actually my favorite colors on a hollyhock.
Parkway Garden
West parkway bed, planting in progress. Oh, those are ‘Globemaster’ Allium in a clump in front of the raised bed. Did I mention that this bed was kind of random?

So there you are. I’ll be posting pictures through the year to show how this bed does or doesn’t come together.

Have you been doing makeovers of beds that have gotten away from you?

28 Comments on “Another Plant Delivery, And Taming A Wild Raised Bed

  1. Oh Yes! the front bed of the frontyard only had lilies. I don’t know who planted so many bulbs of lilies or they just multiplied and no one took care until we bought the house couple of years back. They don’t even flower. They develop green foliage and deers eat them. They are spreading everywhere now – front, back, I don’t know how. So, I’m trying to take them out and put native plants in its place. But, taking lilies out is really a challenge with their huge tap roots.

    I will be waiting eagerly to see the transformation as I am learning a lot from you all.

  2. Oy, I just got in from trying to tame my parking strips that got taken over by some thugs (bird planted holly, daphne laureola, hedera helix, Potentilla norvegica, a small leaved petasites passed along from another gardener, impatiens glandulifera, native mahonia, and a cast of thousands.) It’s kind of sad because these are all looking so nice and healty and now, and I’m pulling, digging, hacking away and making big empty spots in the plantings. Hopefully, it’ll work out.

    Your plant delivery sounds wonderful and I’m looking forward to seeing your progress!

  3. This all sounds wonderful – look forward to following the progress! I like Oenothera very much, as it flowers when most other blooms are tired and going over. I have a yellow and orangy yellow one. I also love hollyhocks but have given up for the same reason as you did. Hope this one really is rust-resistant. 😀

  4. That was my MO, random. I love it in the back beds, but not in the more visible front and side beds that I have been redoing. Love Bluestone and just got a small order. The bed sounds lovely.

    • I TRY not to be some random, but I am overcome with intermittent compulsions to buy new plants without regard to appropriate space.

  5. The answer to your last question is: no, but I should.
    You, indeed, shall enlarge that little raised bed to make room for all those beauties you’ve just bought! Please don’t move the tradescantia nor the ruellia, I’m quite fond of them! Now go on, get out and shovel! 🙂
    (and take a picture when you’re done!)

  6. I have a couple of beds that have gotten away from me. I’m slowly making progress. It’s always fun to re-do a bed, too – especially if it means buying more plants! I placed an order from Bluestone and have been wondering when they would start shipping.

  7. Hi Jason, I’m sharing your joy of receiving brand new plants, and I look forward to reading and seeing updates of this new bed. I’m a big fan of alliums and can’t wait to see your Globe-masters come out too.

  8. I love a good excuse to redesign a bed (translation: order new plants). On the subject of rust-prone hollyhocks – have you tried the rugosa type? They are touted as rust resistant and it’s actually the preferred variety down here for precisely that reason.

  9. Once again, you and I plant a lot of the same plants! I have ruellia, Johnson’s Blue, Walker’s Low, Caradonna, and a different type of sundrops. You will have your malva for eternity if it’s the same one I have. Super tough plant. I still get a bit of rust on it, unfortunately. This bed will look fabulous! 🙂

  10. Oh my gosh, all those wonderful plants…hope you had fun.

    Jen

  11. I have a border alongside my driveway (parkway?) and I am very conscious that the plants need to be low so they dont get knocked by car doors but it does make it difficult as height is so important.

    More deliveries I see – tut tut:)

    • The parkway is what I call the strip of land between the sidewalk and the street, I ghess there are other names for it. Some people call it the hell strip.

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