May 24, 2011

My "Lazy Gardener Garden" in Spring

Gaillardia 'Burgundy' self-sows;
Achillea 'Moonshine' grows rapidly;
Annual Nigella 'Miss Jekyll' self-sows.
Welcome to my "lazy gardener garden" in late spring! In my attempt to minimize how much work that I have to put into all the different gardens, I am relinquishing some of the design control to Mother Nature.

This large section of garden is on the east side of the house where the light has changed as trees have matured over the last five years. Rather than agonize over what to plant in a section where the sunlight and shade ratio is still changing, I'm allowing self-sowing and rapidly growing annuals, biennials and perennials "do their own thing."

I used to call this section the "butterfly garden" but since all of my different gardens attract butterflies, that's not as descriptive as it could be. I've relocated some of my stellar sun-loving perennials, such as coreopsis and agastache, from this section to the front garden.

There is a revolving color scheme of blue, purple, white, yellow, red and orange from spring through fall. All plants are drought tolerant and deer resistant, though there are a few plants, such as rudbeckia 'Goldsturm', that must be sprayed with rabbit repellent.

Salvia 'Caradonna' (self-sows true to parent),
Homestead Purple verbena (spreads rapidly),
and nepeta (easily divided)
in April 2011.

Purple salvia and nepeta give way to yellow, red and blue in late May.
There are several varieties of gaillardia (blanket flower) in this garden. I can no longer say for sure what each one is/will be as they have been cross-pollinated and the resulting seeds can be anything from solid yellow, burgundy, deep orange, or bi-color. That is the risk of letting seeds go rather than propagating by cuttings. The offspring will not necessarily be the same as the parent. The gaillardia 'Burgundy' is holding color fairly well among the offspring, but the solid yellow gaillardia has not. Gaillardia 'Tizzy' (plants) did not return this year, but 'Tokajer' has returned though I've not seen seedlings of that variety.

The prolific, self-sowing gaillardia can result in different colors
and heights due to the cross-pollination of the varieties. 
Blooming in April and May in the "lazy gardener garden":

salvia 'Caradonna' (self-sows true to parent)
allium 'Purple Sensation' (bulbs have multiplied over two years)
nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' (easily divided; minimal self-sowing)
'Homestead Purple' verbena (spreads rapidly by runners)
achillea 'Moonshine' (matures rapidly; divide every 3-4 years)
gaillardia (multiple varieties; some self-sow)
salvia greggii 'Navajo Red' (has produced offspring from seed that are true to parent)
salvia 'Black & Blue' (spreads by runners and easily divided in late spring)
salvia farcinacea 'Victoria Blue' (matures rapidly and am hoping for seedlings next year)

To bloom in summer:

monarda 'Jacob Cline' (spreads rapidly by runners; needs more moisture than the other plants)
ageratum 'Wayside Blue' (self-sows and spreads rapidly by runners)
crocosmia 'Lucifer' (corms grow rapidly and can be easily divided)
achillea 'Terracotta' (matures rapidly; divided every 3 years)
shasta daisies (divides easily; some varieties self-sow)
rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' (self-sows)
laceflower (self-sows)
marigolds (some varieties self-sow)
orange cosmos sulphureus (self-sows)
echinacea 'Sundown' (hasn't performed well for five years)
agastache (some varieties self-sow)
asclepias tuberosa (self-sows)
ascleplias incarnata (self-sows, but takes years to bloom; more moisture)
hypericum 'Sun Pat' is shrub-like (minimal self-sowing)
amsonia hubrichtii (self-sows)
verbena bonariensis (self-sows)
Russian sage (self-sows, but is new to the garden)
bronze fennel (self-sows too much; must deadhead)

Because I allow the plants to self-sow and spread, there is minimal care and maintenance. I let the seed heads stand until the following spring, when I cut them back at one time, divide any mature plants and transplant seedlings. I rarely provide supplemental water unless rainfall is scarce when the transplants and seeds need a good start. Since I allow the self-sowing of seeds, I don't use mulch except around the base of new plants. Mulch on top of the ripened and fallen seeds would prevent germination. In spots where the soil needs boosting, I work in amendments (organic compost) and sow seeds of filler plants such as nigella for spring and marigolds and cosmos for summer.

Less maintenance for the gardener means more time to enjoy the flowers (and work on the other gardens)!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
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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