Practically pragmatic, reality based, that is the way I now garden. Oh, there are flights of fancy, reaching way past our limits, a certain fearlessness to the methods used here, to be sure. But like the yin to the yang, we want to succeed and will therefore make the changes necessary to help that success become reality.
The garden of our dreams is an English cottage type, overflowing with flowers, lush with greenery growing happily in a moist climate, like we saw at Stockton Bury, England, click here to see our story about it. Southeast Tennessee used to be a lot more moist, but with each passing year it seems to be drying up. We are turning into Southwest Texas, from whence we came before moving into this house, except our winters are colder.
The evergreen Rhododendrons that at one time grew beautifully here have given up. Most of the roses have gone belly up, one by one. Hostas and astible frizzle and burn once summer gets going. Spring is still sweet, but summer is harsh. It is time for a rethink in the plantings. Again. Above is my favorite plant of all, the deciduous azaleas, blooming in April. Natives here, they seem happy enough, unlike their evergreen cousins from cooler and wetter climes.
Earlier the rethink was about less maintenance and planting masses of what does well here. Going to more Xeric choices that can still withstand wet and soggy and sometimes frozen ground in the cold months fits the pattern that is now the way of it. The photo is an alpine garden display seen during the English Malvern Garden Show in 2010, click here to see more.
Grasses and gravel, natives and needles,…. succulents! I know very little about succulents, but I am trying to learn which ones will grow best in these conditions. Hardy seems to be a relative term, depending on many things besides temperatures, like dryness. Above: Pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris is very happy here, even though it is native to the sandy shores of the Gulf Coast.
We began with trepidation by planting Yuccas. I dislike sharp and pointy, although roses are like that, too. The evergreen and colorful cultivar Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ was purchased and planted. It did well. We added more. This was the gateway drug, for now we have added…(hint in the opening photo)…
…Agaves. Talk about your sharp and pointy. But after seeing the Century plant, Agave americana blooming at the beach this year, and seeing a couple of plants for sale at the local big box, well, you could say we jumped in with both feet. Added so far and planted up in pots are Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’ in the first photo and Agave parryi truncata above. Wish me luck,please, with this new venture!