Sunrise is a special time in the Fairegarden. The property is situated in a way that allows for the viewing of bright morning light as it washes across the north sloping land, beginning at the arbor and creeping slowly over pathways and flower beds. One of the first areas to be illuminated is located to the left of the concrete stairway that is the only remnant of the house that was knocked down to build the garage. Standing under the garage deck the view shows the gravel bed to the left, the arbor in the far back and the stairs aforementioned to the right. Let us climb those stairs together and watch the sun paint the colors of the yellow/white bed, shall we?
The plants have been jam-packed in here over the years, striving for better overall design and to help keep down the weeds. No bare earth means fewer weed seeds can germinate. Coming into view as the elevation changes with each lifting leg are the bearded irises. Iris germanica ‘Lacy Snowflake’ is sublime in ruffled skirts with an ever so slight bluish tint.
Iris germanica ‘Tiger Honey’ has been the most floriferous of all the iris here, most of which were passalongs. Tiger Honey was bought and paid for many years ago, a wise expenditure. Seen in the background just to the left is one of three dappled willows, Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’. These shrubs are coppiced to one foot tall in late winter, to better enjoy the color of the new foliage and to keep the size small. Left unpruned they would quickly fill this entire bed, as has happened in offspring Semi’s garden from sticks stuck inground several years ago. A little more to the left is a golden puddle that needs explaining.
Standing in the lower part of the gravel garden, facing the old block wall to the left of the steps is Erica darlyensis ‘Westwood Yellow’. In the early plantings, heaths and heathers were added all over the slope as the conditions were found to be to their liking, this one went into the first hypertufa trough. It soon grew too large for that containment and was planted along the wall with some yellow creeping jenny, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’. Cuttings have been spread along the wall with high hopes for this has been a successful design element in a very hot and dry space. Behind to the right is the same dappled willow and Hammamelis ‘Arnold Promise’ with oddly browning leaves directly behind the heath. One of several daylilies is in full foliage. White astilbes also inhabit the area, including a new purchase.
A recent road trip to the fabled native plant nursery just north of Knoxville, Sunight Gardens yielded this beauty. Even though we have a whole lotta astibles and have divided those ad finitum, this dark foliage and red stem could not be resisted. The tag said this was a dwarf, so we will see if this is good placement for Astilbe ‘Younique White’.
A Mother’s Day gift from The Financier several years ago, this very early blooming daylily is always surprising. The label read Lemon Lily, Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus, but we believe it might be H. dumortieri due to the red buds and outer petal coloration. Lemon lily is actually H. flava, so who knows? It smells odd, not like lemons to this schnozz. Other daylilies in this bed are H. ‘Demetrius’, H. ‘White Opal’, H. ‘Moon Dazzle’, and H. ‘Happy Returns’. Photos of these can be seen on the page listed on the sidebar, Plants We Grow-Daylilies.
Back to the stairs and this time looking down at the plantings along the edge, the first group is the Allium karataviense overplanting Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’. Fifty of these Alliums were purchased for planting under the knockout roses on each side of the steps leading to the knot garden. It was not realized how large the bulbs were and so they were also planted along the middle terrace path, at the end of the vole project wall and here in the yellow/white garden. I can’t say enough good things about these bulbs, gorgeous blooms and the coveted large leaves are just as attractive to combat the Little Leaf Syndrom we often drone on about. Next to the Alliums is the Sedum alboroseum ‘Mediovariegatum’.
The combination with the Iris pallida ‘Variegata’ was a happy bit of serendipity. This bed is also home to the collection of Veronicas. Shown above with the iris is Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles’. Intense study of the Piet Oudolf/Noel Kingsbury book ‘Designing With Plants’ helped this gardener see the wisdom of mass plantings, repeated in a bed. Last year many plants were brought together from their far flung plopping homes and replanted close together with the intent of more overall eye pleasing attractiveness. Here, it has worked.
A conscious effort to include larger leaves found the planting last year of Rudbeckia maxima next to the clothesline pole that is another architectural remain from the former house here. This is some handsome folige, huge in size, glaucous and the very tall flower scape can be tied to the metal pole if needed. The favorite rose, Rosa ‘Moonlight’ was originally planted on the rusty post, but succumbed to the dreaded Rose Rosette disease and had to be dug out last year. The single red Rosa ‘Altissimo’ is now alone, and liking it. This rose was originally planted on an arbor that stood between the main house and the garage before the addition joining the two structures was built. Altissimo was cut to the ground, dug up and stuck, or plopped next to Moonlight, with no hopes of it living. It just goes to show that sometimes our expectations are offbase. There are two other Moonlights still growing happily on other treillage, BTW.
Newly added last fall, ordered from Annie’s Annuals is Asphodeline lutea. This plant has very interesting evergreen foliage with bluish twisting leaves. The yellow flowers bloom from the bottom up on spiked stalks, with random florets opening up and down the entire stem as bloom progresses. The foliage blends well with the sedum and R. maxima.
A list was begun of all of the things growing in this, the yellow/white bed, sometimes called the white/yellow bed. It was astonishing how many different plants are contained here, in a somewhat small space. Daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, leucojum and muscari on the early blooming end, daisies, goldenrod, helianthus, blue eyed grass, veronicastrum, lilies of various sorts, echinaceas, filipendula, roses, phlox, hibiscus, astible, viburnums, bronze fennel, yellow star grass, willow, witch hazel, clematis stans …you get the idea. I am sure some have been left out even. So much for a mass planting of just a few things, the design goal. Being a plant collector does not mesh well with good design, but it is pleasing to me, especially as the sun rises. That is the important thing, don’t you agree?