Since it was decided that a revamp of the garden was necessary for a happier life, there has been studying. It seems that leaf size, shape and form play an integral part in the way the eye perceives the garden as a whole and the microcosms of each bed or area. The daylily hill is the main view from the lower deck and inside the addition that joins the garage to the main house. The desktop computer resides in that room and the laptop likes to play there as well. Wireless internet allows the laptop to go to other places but we usually sit in the lazyboy, type and gaze out the twelve feet of glass patio doors at the garden. A slight right turn of the head has us looking straight into the daylily hill. That is a good place to begin the tweaking.
This is the shot from the deck with the morning sun shining brightly. The Japanese maple ‘Crimson Queen’ anchors the corner. Stipa tenuissima surrounds the maple and gives movement and pointy texture. This grass has seeded about a bit and is used extensively in all parts of the garden with its evergreen uprightness. During the growing season sedum acre carpets the hill with a cooling chartreuse green. Stone steps lead to gravel paths that traverse the area behind the garage. These steps are heavily used to get up to the veggie bed and the shed at the top. This part of the garden is heavily planted but still suffers from the little leaf syndrome. We are going to rectify that a little today
Lining this bed like soldiers in formation are mounds of Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’. In between the tall sedums are bulb plantings of tulips and lilies. This seemed like a good idea eight years ago, but the sedum is starting to get boring. A couple of places have become overgrown and had to be dug and replanted with smaller bits. This one is looking okay.
This next one up the hill is not. Also lining the edge are crowds of grape hyacinths. They have been dormant through the hotter months and are now sending up fresh green spikes that will mark their territory until the blue blossoms bloom the next spring.
This is a healthy clump of the Autumn Joy. Who wouldn’t want to have lots of this in their garden?
Sedum spectabile ‘Matrona’ is more colorful and the idea had been entertained to replace the A. J. with this red stemmed beauty. But there is room in the world of Faire Garden for both and all sedums are welcome here.
But instead we are going with some new plants to replace the A. J. This just in from Forestfarm Nursery is Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’. A large perennial with red flowers, this has substance and form and the booster shot of red to a ho hum space. I had never heard of this plant before reading Piet Oudolf’s book, Designing With Plants. It was featured in many photos and looked like a good candidate to cure some of this garden’s ills. We have several persicarias including P. ‘Red Dragon’ and a couple of weedy ones that came with the property so it is hoped this plant can live in the conditions here.
This is another case of red washout with the photo. Many shots were taken and this is the best we could come up with. Maybe when the plant has more than one flower, there are several buds, we can give you a better idea of its good looks.
On our last trip to Asheville we picked up this Aster frikartii ‘Monch’. This was also mention in the Oudolf book and we dutifully picked one up. The blue flowers look good with the pinks of the sedums and the blooms of the Spiraea ‘Magic Carpet’ that is planted as the second row of soldiers in this bed on the hill. It is hoped that this can be divided or will self sow to help fill in over time.
One of the stalwarts of the daylily hill after the daylilies are finished is this passalong Phlox paniculata from neighbors Mae and Mickey. It has spread itself through runners and seeds nicely. It gets a haircut mid June to keep its stature shorter and to delay the bloom until late summer when its color will be more welcome. The dazzling display of the daylilies takes center stage during June and July here and no extra mauve is needed during that time. It is much more appreciated now.
Here is the replacement for the lower Autumn Joys, thanks to the suggestion by Black Swamp Girl Kim of A Study of Contrasts. There were several excellent recommendations in the comments of the post about why the need for a new design. Click here to read why we feel the need for a new design. Kim helped me think of the large leaf lady’s mantle, Alchemilla mollis. I have tried planting this cottage garden favorite a couple of times before, but did not heed the warning of Southern Living Garden Book to give it some shade and extra water in our southern zone. I had grown it with great success in our northeast Tennessee garden and loved how it self seeded. The breathy yellow flowers will give movement and interest along the gravel path and maybe give us some free plants there too. The leaves hold the moisture in there folds that is said to have magical properties as a bonus.
Already there have been seedlings in this very gravel, the latest is this fern leaf bleeding heart.
This is the before picture of the scheduled work day.
Here is the after. The sun is higher in the sky now but you can still see the three Alchemillas along the edge to deliver a blow to end the little leaf syndrome. Can you envision the flowing yellow flowers on wirey stalks next spring between pastel tulips and blue grape hyacinths here? Close your eyes and let the colors wash over you. Time will help this bed achieve the vision. We have planted a good variety of taller perennials to extend the loveliness beyond daylily season. There are daffodils, lilies, hyacinths and tulips, echinaceas, rudbeckias, mums, oriental poppies and the warhorse Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’. Wood ferns, hostas, heucheras, hellebores, amsonia, artemisia, asters, two exbury azaleas, ox eye daisies, evening primrose, vinca minor, and possibly more are planted in this bed. There are so many that I cannot remember everything in here. Maybe that is what is wrong. Like throwing money at a problem, I have been throwing plants at a problem bed that I want more than any other to look fantastic every single day of the year. It does seem to be improving. What doesn’t work can be moved elsewhere. Like all of gardening, it is a continual work in progress.
This is an addendum to the redo of the daylily hill edge. On the other side of the stone steps where we have been working is this special plant. It has no fancy flowers or colorful foliage, it doesn’t even have the large leaves we hunger for. Does anyone recognize it? You would know instantly if we could offer you smellovision on the blog post. Maybe scratch and sniff. It is lemon verbena, Aloysia triphylla. It has been planted to drape over the block wall so that as we travel the trail to under the deck and beyond it brushes against us releasing the most intense lemon scent imaginable. It is an annual here, but we must make a note to self to replant it annually.