Fall Planting!

The Left Bank – the bed that lies west of the driveway between the crabapple and the sidewalk – has been born anew. The last three weeks I’ve hardly gotten into the garden at all, but yesterday I spent a good six hours digging out the old and planting the new.

The Left Bank as the makeover begins.
The Left Bank as the makeover begins.

You may recall how I was dissatisfied with the Left Bank, which looked to me like an amalgam of green piles of dirty laundry (perhaps the piles from my old bachelor apartment come back to haunt me). They were a collection of good plants that didn’t go well together. (Hey, maybe that could be a book: “When Good Plants Make Bad Partners“.)

New plants from Prairie Nursery and my friend Rachelle.
New plants from Prairie Nursery and my friend Rachelle.

Since the new plants had arrived, it was time to get to work. Out went the Smilacina stellata, the Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolius), the “May Night” Salvia, the Coreopsis palmata. Actually, they did not go easily. Between the Coreopsis, Aster, and Smilacina, the top few inches of soil were a dense mass of rhizomes. I thought at first the soil had somehow become compacted, but it was just all those dang roots. The Coreopsis roots in particular were like iron spaghetti.

No doubt I’ll be battling remaining bits of these rhizomes for years to come, but c’est la jardin.

Prairie Smoke and Starry Solomon's Plume
Prairie Smoke and Starry Solomon’s Plume

What stayed were the Anise Scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora), the Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum), and the Prairie Dropseed (Sporobulus heterolepsis).  The Dropseed I rearranged to make more of a border along the west side of the bed.

And of course, the many species tulip bulbs. Actually I was quite pleased that I was able to avoid digging up more than a few of the existing bulbs.

Lead Plant. Photo from prairienursery.com.
Lead Plant. Photo from prairienursery.com.

The new plants had mostly arrived from Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin. There were a whole bunch of Prairie Onions (Allium stellatum), which I used to make a border along the east side of the bed. There were enough Prairie Smoke to make the existing drift of this plant much deeper There were some Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis), and one Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens).

'Summer Beauty' Alliums at the Lurie Garden.
‘Summer Beauty’ Alliums at the Lurie Garden.

Also, my good friend Rachelle from Talking to Plants sent me some ‘Summer Beauty’ Allium, which are like a larger and showier version of the Prairie Onion. I saw masses of ‘Summer Beauty’ this year at the Lurie Garden and knew I had to have some. Thanks again, Rachelle!

The Left Bank at the end of the day.
The Left Bank at the end of the day.=

By late afternoon I was done – at least for this stage of the makeover. I still have a bunch of bulbs to plant – species and Kaufmanniana tulips, and a few Lilium auratum ‘Gold Band’ – but they have not yet arrived. Which is a good thing, because my back, knees, and thighs were preparing to go out on strike against my brain.

Next year I think I’ll mix in some brightly colored annuals, maybe Zinnias, to contrast with the summer lavender blooms of the Ruelia and Alliums.

Have you done any fall planting yet?

33 Comments on “Fall Planting!

  1. I’ve done doing fall moving around. 🙂 I moved two cherry trees, four blueberry bushes, two Rose of Sharon, lavender, several grasses, etc. yesterday. It took an ice bag on my back and an Aleve to get me feeling human again. 🙂

  2. Nice choices…I love that Allium, and wish it was more readily available locally…ordering it is SO expensive! We finally got a bit of rain last week, so I was able to dig in the garden for the first time in months this weekend! Moved (and removed) a lot of stuff, planted some more grasses (I know…more) and some Vernonia ‘Iron Butterfly’…felt so good to actually do something other than drag a hose around!

  3. Jason it sounds wonderful…I am still in the planning stages for my changes. And it will another year before I can make big changes…but you have me chomping to get at it.

  4. Looking good! Time for us to rearrange a few perennials and plant a few bulbs as well. Fall in the garden is a busy time! Cheers, Ben

  5. A lovely new selection, I shall enjoy seeing how it all works out! I do like the look of that allium! I was smiling re the iron spaghetti and totally understand how hard it all is on the knees and back…I have all that to look forward too as my borders need a good shake up.xxx

  6. It’s such a satisfying thing getting so much done, but it does hurt – I sympathize! Yes, I’ve been planting too, and emptying summer containers. Had a day off today though! Glad you kept your Geums – lovely flowers and foliage.

  7. Wow, it sounds like you have been busy! I have made a few moves but am mostly harvesting food these days! I like the geum ‘Prairie Smoke’, does it stay pretty all season? I ordered lots of species tulips too, to plant this fall once they arrive.

    • Prairie Smoke is a nice leafy groundcover after it is done with its spring blooms. Likes sun and dryish soil, so it may do well for you.

  8. No…..no fall planting. A few divides–not sure if that counts as plantings. Sure wish I had some allium to plant. But even that would be limited since I’m recovering from a knee transplant 🙂

  9. You’ve been busy! I’ve added a few plants, but mostly waiting for my earlier additions to fill in–which, of course, will take time. I have a great vision for adding more late summer/early fall bloomers but they’re slow to get established. Now I’m settling into my lazy gardener stretch–from now until late February, when I can’t wait to get outside and dig in the dirt. Oh, and still some flower and veggie harvesting to do … until the frost. Good luck with your plantings!

  10. I like the new changes. 🙂 I really like the prairie smoke. Very cool plant. I just dug up a few zillion Siberian iris that were floppy by mid-summer. They’re headed for my fall plant swap. I’m deep into transplanting mode but there is still a lot of work ahead of me.

    • I tried Siberian Iris but it didn’t do well for me. Plus the flowers are so short lived! Prairie Smoke is cool but you need a lot to have an impact.

  11. What a beautiful selection of plants you have there Jason! WOW! That is a lot of work! i look forward to watching this part of your garden grow! Keep us posted…currently i am moving all kinds of stone all over my garden that was left over from the construction….like you I am tired and sore. I figure it is all about pacing myself! Happy gardening!

  12. This is going to look lovely! I want to do completely re-vamp one area, too, but despite the beautiful weather we’ve had, I haven’t had much time to spend in the garden it seems. I ordered some plants from Prairie Nursery for the first time last spring and was so impressed with their service and packaging. Will definitely order from them again–as soon as I find some space for new plants:)

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