Doubling Down on Tall Plants
In addition to the bulbs, I’ve ordered some new perennials for fall planting. Most of these are for the Front Island Bed. This bed is an irregular oval wedged between the rectangular Driveway and Sidewalk Borders, all three divided by grassy paths.
I’ve realized that the Island Bed is viewed primarily from the sidewalk, and to a lesser extent from the street or from the path to the front door. And I’m fine with that, and should plant accordingly.
What this means is that the shorter plants toward the front of the Island Bed are essentially invisible by summer – hidden by the taller plants of the Sidewalk and Driveway borders. You can see them from the grassy paths, but I’m the only one who walks on those paths with any frequency.
So I’ve decided to make the Island Bed an island of tall plants and get rid of most of the low-growing perennials that grow there currently. Layering is all well and good, but it doesn’t have to be applied to each and every bed.
I’ll also be pulling some of the Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) because, much as I love this plant, it’s pretty much all over the place.
Here’s what will be added to the Island Bed:
Rust-resistant Hollyhocks, specifically Russian Hollyhock (Alcea rugosa) and Fig Leaf Hollyhock (A. ficifolia). Russian Hollyhocks have yellow flowers, the Fig Leaf has a mix of colors much like the traditional A. rosea. These should bloom through summer and grow 5 to 7 feet high. (I should say here that our front garden, which has rich soil and ample moisture, plants tend to exceed the height listed in the catalogs.)
Royal Catchfly (Silene regia), which should grow 4+ feet, blooming mid- to late summer with crimson flowers. A good hummingbird plant, incidentally.
Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis), about 5 feet tall and has tufted purple flowers in late summer. This is supposed to be a superlative plant for attracting Monarchs and other butterflies.
Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida). Another late-summer bloomer about 5 feet tall. This one will require watching to prevent excessive self-sowing.
You may notice that this selection offers nothing for spring. Right now there’s some Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis), which blooms in May and June, and that will stay. The back of the bed is also composed of later-season plants: Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum), Sweet Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) and New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae).
This isn’t a big problem because the Front Garden’s spring-blooming bulbs and perennials are concentrated in the other beds and borders. However, I might mix some bulbs or annuals into the Island Bed to provide more interest in the earlier part of the year.
As this gardening year comes to a close, I’m already excited about what next year holds in store.