Garden Survivors: Heroes Versus Villains

Many heroic plant survivors were replanted with compatible companions by color schemes. The plant villains were kicked out of the garden. Between September 2009 and today, I'm sure that 50 per cent of my garden has been dug up, moved and replanted!

The promise of an exciting summer season is on the horizon. I am more enthusiastic about the garden this year than in previous years.

September 2010 marks the fifth anniversary here and I am finally moving beyond the experimental phase—discovering which plants will survive deer, rabbits, wet winters, hot summers and drought—and on to the redesign.

Plants that play well and perform above and beyond my expectations have been given permanent immunity—they will always have a place in my garden.

Settled in for a permanent role, the Lady Banks rose, Kwansan cherry tree and Encore™ azaleas in the cottage garden will return again every year to start the spring color. There are also blue hardy geranium and balloon flowers planted beneath the azaleas. Pink garden phlox and an oriental lily will bloom later.

However, the left bank of the cottage garden stream was tweaked after last year's combination of coneflowers and bee balm worked so well. Garden phlox and different daylilies were added. Shorter salvias have replaced the tall agastache.

The right bank in the cottage garden is going xeric in shades of merlot, pink and purple. This bed will take a few seasons to mature. Dianthus, creeping phlox, lavender, armeria, gaillardia, salvia and stachys will slowly fill out the bed.

It is the unfenced, deer resistant gardens that have undergone the biggest renovation.

The butterfly garden is now divided into several different color schemes —filled with agastache, salvia, coreopsis, gaillardia, milkweed, fennel, verbena and achillea. One section that wasn't working well for the drought-loving perennials was converted to a tropicalesque garden with cannas, a banana, ginger, bee balm and gladiolas.

In the front garden, I've moved agastache, salvias, echinops and gaillardia to the top of the slope while filling out the middle with annuals, Russian sage, ornamental grasses and liatris. The lower part is the rain garden and it has been dug deeper and filled with richer soil for swamp milkweed, Japanese irises, ginger, ageratum, monarda, echinacea and leucanthemum.

There are also some new plants that I selected based upon their potential compatibility with my garden heroes for great color and texture. A few may prove to be too weak for the conditions, but they are being given a chance to be winners, too. Three varieties of allium, planted last fall, are starting to bloom and are already appearing as great companions to many perennials.

I have to remind myself that gardens take time. Not everything can be accomplished in one season or even five years. Gardens that I have visited and admire have been mature for decades. Perhaps I'll have the energy to keep gardening for another twenty or thirty years!

Meanwhile—stay tuned for more episodes of the redesign where I will introduce you to these new garden alliances—with the hope that the new plants will also prove to be garden heroes.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights/patents owned by those respective companies or persons.


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