January 30, 2010

What's the Big Gardening Idea?

Just how many different agastaches can I combine into a colorful, deer resistant garden design?

Agastache varieties are available in an array of shapes and colors - cool and hot. I long to group them into a mass planting beside my driveway.

Such is my dream... because agastache is my signature plant.

This underused perennial is a thing of curiosity to many gardeners, but it is one of the easiest plants to grow in tough conditions of lean soil, little water and lots of curious critters. Don't kill agastache with kindness by overwatering, fertilizing or cutting it back in the fall. The basal foliage will remain through the winter on the western agastaches (tubular flowers and small leaves) and the herbaceous agastaches (bottlebrush flowers and wider leaves) will die back.

I started my collection a few years ago, quite by accident. Last year, I began the hunt in earnest - for the best colors, longest bloom season and strongest survivors. You can take away all of my other garden plants, but please leave my agastache!

The very challenge of a new garden generates enough excitement to make me spend hours on my computer, drawing out more garden designs than I can grow in my lifetime. So, why not dedicate one big canvas and paint a swath of an agastache garden for this year's big gardening idea?

I have allocated over 600 square feet of meadow to use as my canvas. My design includes a few select companions, with similar growing conditions, to punctuate the plan in such a way to add impact to the agastache as well as add some structure and color in other seasons.

But first, I must eradicate the meadow grass and add good garden soil. I will add some small, sharp gravel to the soil to make sure the drainage is suitable for the agastache.

Finding all the agastache will be more of a challenge than doing the work. It will take a few years to take the garden to maturity. I still have testing to do before buying large quantities of any new variety. I've learned to take it slow, rather than rush a garden project to completion.

This spring will provide me with more information on which new agastache successfully overwintered from the stellar performances in the summer of 2009.

Besides the colorful garden design, there are other advantages...
  1. Deer resistant
  2. Rabbit resistant
  3. Drought tolerant
  4. Attracts butterflies
  5. Attracts bees
  6. Attracts hummingbirds
  7. Attracts Goldfinch
  8. Low maintenance
...for basing my 2010 big garden idea on agastache!

Summer 2009 (click photo to enlarge)

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.
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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