June 2, 2009

With or Without Me, The Garden Changes



The cottage garden looks so different this year. Some of the changes were under my direction, but a lot of the changes were made by Mother Nature.

The "left bank" of the garden bed is almost completely new since we pulled abelia (relocated) and a small tree out of the section in September. The shrubs and the tree were too large for the space and I wanted more flowers.

I'm working on an edging of perennial heliotrope 'Azure Skies' along the bank by dividing and moving existing plants. Other additions include echinacea, monarda, salvia greggii and guarantica and verbena bonariensis. I sowed annual seeds of larkspur, poppies, cornflowers and zinnia. This garden section now looks totally different from last year.

Then there is just "luck" in garden design. By pure coincidence, I'm creating a little garden peninsula in the stream. The swamp sunflower (helianthus angustifolius 'First Light' PP13150) that is supposed to be deer resistant was eaten last fall in a location outside the fence. I dug up a large clump a few months ago. I just plunked the clump down into the stream (beside a calla lily) to keep the perennial watered while I figured out a new location. The swamp sunflower is still there and very happy! I liked this idea so well that I added a cutting of butterfly ginger and a bit of bog salvia. All of the water-loving plants are thriving.


One of my most popular photos was of the cottage garden blooming in pink dianthus and purple lavender. I gave that color combination the "Best Cinematography" award for 2008.

A lot of rain last year and over the winter killed off several large lavender plants. The last heavy snow seemed to have suppressed the dianthus blooms as it was brown and flat afterwards. Last year, the blooms were thick and glorious. This year, I could count the blooms on my fingers and didn't even bother to take a photograph. What was the stellar performance of last year was non-existent this year.


The "right bank" of the stream is a gardening challenge. I've planted and replanted that narrow strip so many times! Because it's narrow, I've struggled with whether to "row or not to row" the plants. Because it receives full sun from sunrise to sundown, it requires tough plants.

This year, the daylilies are huge and full of blooms. To break up the "row" look, I've interspersed other annuals and perennials in yellow, white and purple. Right now, the daylilies are providing the show, but as they fade, the annuals and other perennials will help out. It looks better this year than last year, but I need to really be patient this time and not rearrange it again until everything has a chance to perform.

The recent rains have put everything ahead of schedule throughout all of my gardens. Summer perennials that usually don't bloom until late June or early July are already blooming!

My lesson is that you can never count on the garden being the same, at the same time, every year. I've also learned to include more variety to carry the garden should the stars fail to put on a great performance, or fail to show up at all.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Home garden; May 2009

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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