Saturday, August 03, 2013

Time For A Makeover!

I've been reluctant to share many garden photos - with plants emphasized - because, quite frankly, after 2 1/2 years of drought, my gardens are looking pretty sad.  We've received a nice amount of rain in the last couple weeks, however, and so I'm looking to revamp what's left and corral it into some sort of shape.

Because they've bloomed superbly despite the drought and a major spider mite/lacebug infection each summer when the weather gets hot and dry, I've let my aromatic asters take over the front garden beds.  I need to thin them down and provide some space for a few other plants, though.

All of these first few photos were taken yesterday in the late afternoon.

Here is the pathway through my main front flower bed, leading from the driveway to the front door.

Looking from the edge of the driveway, just a step or two into the lawn area, this is the view of the same front flower bed.  Despite my rather disjointed attempts to break up the "wall of green" effect with a clump of giant coneflowers (Rudbeckia maxima) and some grasses, it still seems like the green-shrub-mounds of the aromatic aster are prevailing.

From the front porch/breezeway, looking over the garden to the tall grass, I can frame in some color right now, but it's still primarily "mounds of green" in its effect.

And, yes, I know that the poor eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) by the front door, a victim of redbud leafrollers for the second year in a row, looks awful.  It will either make it or not.  If it doesn't I'll replace it with an Oklahoma redbud.  I have one in the back yard and its shiny leaves seem much more resistant to this irritant.

The island bed in the front yard swale needs plenty of work, too.  Limbing up the Shumard oak a bit will help, although I'm leaving the lower limbs on right now to help give it plenty of energy to grow quickly.  Having the buffalo grass fill in will help too., simply by giving the bed a "finished frame" around it.  The small 'Dream of Beauty' aromatic asters in front have had their leaves basically bleached by the lacebugs, but will still bloom mightily and come back even more widely next year.  They need to be reduced in spread in the spring, I think.

I've purchased another switch grass to plant behind the aromatic asters on the right, to provide some balance.

Not everything is negative or "not working" in the garden.  I had the best bloom I've ever had on my butterfly milkweeds (Asclepias tuberosa) this spring.  (The photo below was taken on June 14 in the front flower bed.)

I've learned that lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) does very well in my garden, not only returning strongly, but also doing just a bit of reseeding.  This is the island bed in the swale, in mid June.

I love this pairing of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and Letterman's ironweed (Vernonia lettermannii) for its foliage contrast.

Species Echinacea, in general, have been doing well for me but, like so many other gardeners, I'm finding that the cultivars are tending to wimp out.  For example, here is the yellow coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa) earlier in the summer.

Even though, technically, that's a species from much further east, it is still robust and beautiful, getting better each year.

The nodding wild onion (Allium cernuum) looks better every year.

The fameflower (Talinum calycinum) is absolutely wonderful and requires nothing but admiration.

And I've got one Gaillardia that acts more like an annual than a perennial in its bloom pattern, but that has returned several years in a row now.  I cannot, however, remember what cultivar it is!  (This photo was taken on June 15, in the front flower bed.)

So, overall, my plan is to go with what's worked best for me over the last few years with the exception of the aromatic asters, which need to be reduced in number and impact. more Echinacea cultivars but more plants of the straight Echinacea species, more lanceleaf coreopsis, add in some species black-eyed Susans, put in more fameflower along sunny edges, move the wild bergamot out from the shade and into the full sun...and pray for more evenly distributed rain, at least for some years!

I welcome any and all suggestions...except, perhaps, to pull it all out and start over!  I'm not THAT unhappy with it...yet!


ProfessorRoush said...

Was it you that I got my nodding onion from? I've got one this year and haven't the slightest idea where it came from.

I feel you pain about the drought-stressed plants...well, I did up till this week when we got over 5 inches of rain. What a weird July.

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Don't knock the asters. All those mounds of green give your garden a lush look.
Love the butterfly weed bed. I had some coreopsis once but it was shaded too much I think and lost the battle to another plant. I should put some in somewhere again. It's such a happy yellow. I need some black eyed susans too. More yellows for late summer I think.

troutbirder said...

In spite of the drought things don't look too bad. Amazing what a little rain can do. On a side note I've been putting up with major major blotches of what I assumed were chigger bites and my ignorant doctor claims is some. Desperate I was intrigued by you comment on "spider mites." Now I'm off to Google it....

Melanie said...

I didn't know that there was a difference in redbuds!! Mine died this year. .It never really took off even though I planted it 12 years ago or so! I'll have to look into that. .wondering if Brady nursery would have that type? Your asters will be incredible when they go to bloom soon!! Love that butterfly weed. .it is on my list of seeds to start again next spring!! Enjoyed your post!

Casa Mariposa said...

My Dream of Beauty asters would much rather be in your garden than mine this year. I put them in a spot that is usually well drained but we've had so much rain that between the moisture and the bunnies, they look horrible. I love your big green asters. they must be spectacular in the fall. I wouldn't argue with what works! Liatris, agastache, nepeta, salvia, rose campion (lychnis), dalea, guara, sedum, and variuos herbs such as oregano would all do well in for you and would give you the color you want.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

From what I see in your garden, natives shine, regardless of the drought. I would look for more natives.