New Design-Daylily Hill Edge

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.



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18 Responses to New Design-Daylily Hill Edge

  1. Hi Frances, it looks like you’ve been doing some hard work lately. Redoing beds and moving blogs. Whew! I think you’ll like WordPress once you get used to it. I moved from Blogger to WP. Ask Kathy Purdy if you want to move the comment to below your post.

    Do you cut back Autumn Joy earlier in the season to keep it from flopping over? I heard that on Gardener’s Diary the other day.~~Dee

    Hi Dee,thanks for finding me. I am behind on both the gardening and reading of blogs since this move to wordpress has taken huge chunks of my time. It looks like there is going to be some more time spent fine tuning it today too. I can barely read the font and the comment thing is sometimes at the the top and sometimes at the bottom. WordPress programmers like to make it a game I believe, that makes people like me, the untechies, stumble and lurch as we figure stuff out. But I am am expert at stumbling and lurching so will get it in the end! ;->

    I did not cut back the sedums this year but have other years. That is too much maintenance for me, as there are umpteen sedums here. They just have to stand up by themselves or risk getting put into the compost pile!

  2. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, thank you for a lovely post. It really helps to see the pictures and is a good lesson in design. I am always thinking I should restrict the number of different plants I grow (never) repeat more and find plants with larger leaves (that the slugs don’t love). My ideal is Meem’s garden at Hoe and Shovel even though I have a very different climate.

    You have inspired me to reread Piet Oudolf’s book, Designing With Plants, it is somewhere in my overfull book cases.

    But your garden is lovely, the first picture makes it hard to believe that you can improve it. Thank you and best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks so much. Sometimes I think pictures such as the ones on this post, while not as attractive as the macro close ups, are needed to tell the story. You sound like you have the same gardening style as I do, buy a new plant that grabs your fancy then find a place for it. LOL I had bought the Piet book a few years ago and put it away with the many others. But after seeing a couple of magazine articles about him and his style got it back out and started to really read and think about his theories. I look at it every day and even take notes of things to try. Getting rid of some of the perfectly healthy plants is going to be the hardest part. It’s easy to replace something that is not doing well, can we take out one that is thriving for the sake of design????

  3. tina says:

    Very nice talk through.I hope that it all works out for you but I still think it lovely the way it is though the big leaves will add to it too. I recognized the Lemon verbena right away. I have been growing in my garden for four years now, it comes back reliably; which is such a nice thing! But, I did take cuttings a few weeks ago and it has already rooted. You might want to do this as it would be easy to overwinter maybe with the orchids. I am sure it would not need additional lighting. Ah, I can smell the lemon now.

    Hi Tina, thanks. I thought you had said that you had lemon verbena. Oh I do hope it comes back. I have zero success with cuttings unless it is the ones I just stick in the ground under a shrub and forget about! LOL

  4. walk2write says:

    You don’t really get rid of the plants you take out, do you? I bet you probably share them with your generous neighbors. There should be a program like Freecycle for plants we no longer want but hate to toss on the compost pile. I saw that program mentioned on someone’s blog the other day. It sounds like a worthy endeavor. I love sedum, especially the autumn joy. It waits patiently while the flashier flowers of summer do their thing and then eases us into winter contemplations when the prima donnas are through with their show.

    Hi Walk2write, wellll, if they look okay I put them out by the curb and people come and get them. I do that with household stuff too, just put it out at the street and there are people who come by regularly since I do it all the time. Easy for me and free for them. You could call it our version of freecycle! The sedums are stalwarts in the garden for sure. Thanks for visiting.

  5. Dave says:

    Frances you sure are a busy gardener right now! I like the ‘Matrona’ sedum you have there. It looks an awful lot like on ewe have that didn’t have a label when we bought at at a garden fair. After having those weedy Persicarias in our yard I’m not sure I want to plant one in the garden, although the red blooms might be nice.

    Hi Dave, I have been busy, especially with computer stuff and not enough with garden stuff! Matrona is distinctive, if it has those dark stems then that is most likely what you got, good deal. I have one really bad persicaria that came with the property that is huge and spreads like wildfire. It is tall and larger leaved with white flowers right now. I guess it could be considered one of the new wave plants of Piet Oudolf, but it spreads way too much here. I am hoping Red Tail is well behaved, it cost me a fortune in shipping from Forestfarm for a $9 plant.

  6. rstair says:

    Looks like you’ve been a busy busy bee in the garden lately Frances. This is the time of the year to make adjustments, that’s what I’ve been doing too. I have all these ideas & plans swirling around in my head & some have been documented in my journal too. I think your garden always looks amazing so whatever tweaking you do will probably be lovely. I really like the Sedum Matrona with it’s dark foliage but Lady’s Mantle is a nice addition too.

    Hi PGL, I am finding it humorous that people say how busy I am. If they only knew how much time I spend in my lazyboy with the laptop they would call me a slug. Or I think the term now is mouse potato, but I don’t use a mouse. LOL Matrona is one of my favorite plants and there is a thick planting of along the shrub border. I think the lady’s mantel is a good contrast for the other leaf shapes and sizes and hope it grows well. Thanks for dropping by.

  7. nancybond says:

    All your hard work paid off — everything looks wonderful. Well done.

    Hi Nancy, thanks. You make it sound like it is *done*! I appreciate the compliment. That is just a tiny portion of the garden, but it is an important one since it is the view from my mouse potato lazyboy seat. All I have to do is move my head away from the computer screen slightly to the right, I could probably just move my eyes and see the daylily hill. I can’t wait for that red persicaria to get bigger and show up in my field of vision. I want to see red! ;->

  8. Cameron says:

    Frances, your gardens look heavenly and so tranquil! An inviting place indeed! I tried to find a sedum ‘Matrona’ on my last plant shopping trip. I guess I’ll have to order one…yours is outstanding! I had Monch asters in my garden, but didn’t have much success through the 2nd winter. I absolutely loved them in bloom and they were perfect beside the foliage of purple sage. I want to try those again in my little micro-climate in the cottage garden that tends to be a zone warmer since we’ve got a passive solar setup for the house. Your use of foliage is just perfect!

    Hi Cameron, thanks so much. My matrona came from Lowe’s, as did many of my purchases. Timing and luck is the best method there. I check by frequently because they often just get a few pots of gems like that in and the early birds like me will buy them all. That just happened with a crocosmia this week, I bought one, error there, and when I went back the next day they were all gone. For $4.88 why didn’t I buy more? I do hope the monch winters over, it is in good soil and was a big specimen. Many of those asters offered in the fall don’t come back here either for some reason, even though there are many native asters here. Hope you can get your hands on a matrona, they are easily divided to make more.

  9. Cindy says:

    I have always loved Lady’s Mantle and the way it catches the dew, rain, or what ever moisture might be about, on it’s leaves. Mine (at a previous garden) never self-seeded, much to my disappointment. I have yet to find the right spot for one in my present gardens. But I think of it every year and maybe next year I will have success.

    Hi Cindy, I love it too and don’t often see it for sale here. Sometimes there is a reason for that, like it doesn’t grow well here. I am giving these new ones the best care that I can provide, so if they don’t make it I will not try again. If they live it will be great, if they self seed, gravy! ;->

  10. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! Your garden is so lovely and I too wondered how you could improve on that first picture of your garden in this post. I love those stone steps and the gravel paths. The look is so charming!

    Hi Sira, thanks. I like the stone and gravel also, it has a soft textural quality and makes even weeds look good.

  11. gailae says:

    Frances, I know we have esp! I brought home the Empress (Toad LIly) and with her came a freebee, Persifolia…this one is a tricolor! You might want to look at that one! Unless the tricolor would be too much. It all looks fantastic (my new fav word), seriously it looks wonderful. The Alchemilla mollis is perfect to deal with small leaf syndrome. It has a similar leaf shape to Heuchera villosa, but the green velvet texture is terrific. Frances, you’ve proven that change is good!


    Hi Gail, I didn’t recognize you as gailae, LOL. I have seen that tricolor and have one similar but darker called red dragon. This one is for the red flowers and the larger leaves. You do have esp, I was just thinking if the lady’s mantle doesn’t work out that heucheras, maybe citronelle would work there. Thanks for you input.

  12. Gail says:

    Frances, Apparently I was signed in under my yet to be published or opened to the public wp blog! I’ll have to watch that!

    See reply above! Talk about esp. I have noticed that my comments can be under both blogger and wordpress if I am signed in at both. I have tried to change it to wordpress only but sometimes blogger won’t allow the comment unless I use the blogger one, when on blotanical for instance.

  13. Skeeter says:

    I love the first picture! I want to stroll down the pathway with its inviting appeal to the eye…

    Your sedum is looking wonderful. Mine is being over taken by self seeding Perwinkle (vinca) argggg…

    Speaking of eyes, I was finding it a bit difficult to read your words. They seem to run together on my computer today. Is this just me or someone else having issues? Hum, I do have reading glasses but I usually need to put them on to read up close…. Anyway, a bit of an issue but loved the words as always…

    Hi Skeeter, thanks so much. I would love to have you join me for a tour, anytime you can make it up this way. I had to switch themes because the first one did not display the sidebar on the individual post links. This one has a smaller font and even though I have tried to change it, I did manage to change the color and style but not the size, I have not given up. Please bear with me as I try to fix it. You should have seen it this morning when I first changed the font. The letters were big but real close together, unreadable. Sigh, once again.

  14. Rhonda says:

    oh how pretty! Just watching you do all of this makes me tired! When you are finished, if you ever are, come by my house and do some tweakin would ya? Seriously Frances I love your gardens and always enjoy your posts.

    Hi Rhonda, so very glad to see you here! Thanks so much. Finished, are you kidding? As long as I can still lift my arm, I hope to still be working on getting the garden wherever it is, just right. As for your parents house, I’ll bet you have and will continue to help them as well as but probably better than I. ;->

  15. linda says:

    Hi Frances, your garden makeover looks beautiful. I hope your lady’s mantle is happy and gives you many babies! That’s a favorite of mine, and Matrona too. I have Black Jack. It looks more like Matrona in the shade, and that’s not a bad thing.

    I would LOVE to have a neighbor who tossed her castoff perennials to the curb! ;~)

    Hi Linda, thanks. I have Black Jack too and he turned back into Matrona, even in full sun. Offspring Semi had bought it for me as a birthday gift and got one for herself too. She accidently broke a stem off and stuck it in the ground. The original plant turned into its mama Matrona, the new stem piece is black. So we decided it needed to be given a haircut and stick the cuttings into the ground to keep it black. We’ll know next year! I wish you lived near enough to get my extra plants, you could have them all. ;->

  16. Karen says:

    Ladys Mantle is one of my “must have” plants in every garden I have had. I grow it from seed – then let it self seed where it wants to go.
    You have been busy!

    Hi Karen, thanks for that. If these survive to make seed, I believe the gravel path they line will be a perfect seed bed. I have found a friend with angelica seeds , hooray and thanks for your advice with those too!

  17. Zoe says:

    Hi Frances, if you like Piet Oudoulf’s books, have a look at Henk Gerritsen too (he was one of PO’s influences, and they worked together too).

    If you have a look on my blog I did a post earlier in the year about Bury Court, which features heavily in the book you are reading. It is about 10 miles from my home, and I visited it frequently over the period of a year, so you can see how some of the planting combinations looked when not under the scrutiny of a professional photographer). There is another fabulous pair of borders at RHS Wisley designed by PO too, which are looking amazing just now, and continue to look good over the winter months as the seed heads continue the drama as they decay.

    Hi Zoe, thanks and welcome. I do remember your Bury Court post but wasn’t so thick into Piet like I am now. I will go back to see what the gardens REALLY look like. You are so lucky where you live to be able to pop over to see these amazing spots, not to mention Stonehenge! I will also check out Gerritsen. You have been extremely helpful. Thanks.

  18. ourfriendben says:

    “All sedums are welcome here.” Words to live by, Frances! We love the much-abused little Sedum acre here, too. And I’m so jealous that you can grow Alchemilla mollis! I’ve tried every kind of alchemilla, but they just disappear here. I’m also awed by your lemon verbena. we grow ours in pots and overwinter them in the greenhouse, where their fragrance is much appreciated during our long winters. But oh, my, ours have never looked lush and abundant like yours! Wow.

    Hi OFB, thanks. I wouldn’t say that we can grow alchemilla here just yet, there were only planted last week. Our last couple of attempts ended in deaths by shrinkage. Fellow Tennessee blogger Tina says here lemon verbena overwinters in her more northern garden than mine so there are hopes for that to be the case here too. If it doesn’t, we will buy another. As for the alchemilla, heuchera citronelle might work, but I want those yellow flowers and some self sown babies in the gravel path. Wish us luck!

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