Update on the Dead Woodland Sunflower Bed
A year ago I wrote about how my woodland sunflowers (Helianthus strumosus) had pooped out on me. They had been the only plant growing in a little back garden bed along the path to the alley. What remained looked like this.
I was tired of woodland sunflower, so a new plant selection was called for. In addition to being under dappled shade, this bed can get dry in summer and wet in spring, so the replacement plants required careful consideration. Also I wanted this to be a low-growing bed, requiring no staking or pruning.
So last fall I ended up planting dwarf goatsbeard (Aruncus aethusifolius), lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis), a variegated bugleweed, and a dwarf beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Isai’. This is how the bed looked last October.
Then came winter, a particularly long and hard winter. When we finally thawed out, I found that: 1) the goatsbeard came up looking refreshed and rested; 2) the lenten rose survived mostly, though one plant perished and another looked rather weak; 3) the bugleweed died; and 4) the dwarf beautyberry had been chewed to the ground by rabbits.
Now the bed looks like this.
Fortunately the dwarf beautyberry has grown back. We’ll see if we get any purple berries this fall, but either way I’ll be sure to give it some winter protection from the evil rabbits. The bugleweed and deceased lenten rose I replaced with more of the dwarf goatsbeard.
These were all new plants for me, and overall I am moderately pleased. I do like the goatsbeard. The ones planted last fall have settled in nicely. The flowers are decent if not exciting, and the ferny foliage is very appealing.
I did have a scare when I read that the dwarf beautyberry is considered an invasive plant in some parts of the country. However, it doesn’t appear on the Chicago Botanic Garden list of invasive plants for this region, so I assume it’s OK.
This is completely off topic but all this understated green and white makes me want to show off my Clematis jackmanii, which is doing very nicely this year.
Purple power! Have a fun Fourth of July!