Update: West Parkway Raised Bed
Last fall I did a makeover of the raised bed on the west side of our parkway. The bed was full of larger perennials and was a bit too big and wild-looking for something between the sidewalk and the street. My goal was to have something relatively low-growing and tidy but colorful and full. It also had to be self-reliant in terms of water and other codling. Many friends from the garden blogging community helped me get through the agony of choosing plants.
Now the first season of this new planting is coming to a close. How is it working out? Overall, I’d say I got close to my goal, but I’m not there yet. In particular, it needs some additional elements to make it stand out more from the surrounding groundcover of wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) and the Orange Coneflower that sit between this raised bed and the curb.
Let’s walk through my plant choices one by one and see how they did.
Geranium Renardii ‘Tschelda’. I like this plant! Both the flowers and leaves are somewhat distinctive from other hardy geraniums. It provides good blue color and texture in late spring and early summer, taking over from the bulbs. It also makes a nice edge, making a good start this year at spilling over the pavers that define the raised bed.
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’. This is a good example of the high cost of being cheap. Because I bought only a small plug of ‘Shenandoah’, it was more vulnerable to the bunny attacks that occurred in late spring. In addition, it has been struggling against being shaded out by its neighbors. It is currently just barely hanging on. I’m going to have to buy a larger plant this fall, which I should have done in the first place. A decent sized ‘Shenandoah would have given this raised bed more of the definition that it currently needs.
Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’. I planted three last fall, two didn’t make it through the winter. I’m guessing it is only marginally hardy here. Also, this is a replay of the problem with ‘Shenandoah’ – the one surviving ‘Little Bunny’ is overwhelmed by its neighbors and barely noticeable. As above, I think I will buy some larger plants at the nursery this fall. Not sure if I will go with ‘Little Bunny’ or another grass.
Calamintha nepetoides. Great plant! A cloud of little white flowers that drive the pollinators mad with desire. It is both tough and lovely. Only thing is, it is a little bit too much of a dominating presence. it is hiding a little too fully most of the other plants that are done blooming. This may be in part because I crammed too many into the available space, a bad habit of mine. I think I will either remove one of the Calamints or try cutting them back in early summer. I won’t touch them now, for fear of provoking an Attack Of The Mega-Wasps.
Sedum spectabile ‘Matrona’. The two that made it through the winter (one was lost) are doing great, in fact they look like more than two plants. These are the first Sedum I’ve ever planted, for some reason I’ve always avoided them up until now. Don’t think I’ll ever plant a lot more, but I’m glad I have these. Only problem is if you are looking from the sidewalk they are a bit obscured by the Calamint.
Salvia nemerosa ‘Carradonna’. This Salvia has rich purple color and an upright habit. It needs to fill in some more but I am happy with this choice. Just hope it isn’t smothered by the Calamint.
Phlox maculata ‘Miss Lingard’. Very happy with this plant. A shorter Phlox (mine were about 2′) with white flowers that come in mid-summer. Absolutely no problem with powdery mildew, and it does fine in drier soils. Known by the common name ‘Carolina Phlox’.
So there you have it. Any thoughts or suggestions gratefully accepted! Have you been evaluating any new beds lately?