I am the gardener of two gardens. Just me, and I am not a big, strong, strapping specimen of super digging, weeding and pruning power. I am sort of small and weak and not what one would truthfully call young.
Above: Pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris grabs the focus away from the goldenrod and asters blooming in the front garden.
Taking care of a garden on a steep slope in southeast Tennessee has been my full time occupation for over thirteen years. During that time the plantings have been adjusted in such a way as to take less time for toiling and making more time for quiet contemplation and enjoyment as the garden has matured.
Above: Aster tataricus ‘Jin Dai’
Using more of what works is the key to the lowest maintenance and greatest beauty. Native plants have proven to be the best workhorses, although there are friendly non-natives planted in the Tennessee Fairegarden.
Above: Daddy of Jin Dai, the species Aster tataricus, shared with me by my friend Gail of Clay and Limesone who is also the founder of Wildflower Wednesday. To see more wildflowers on the fourth Wednesday of each month, go over and visit her!
Consideration has been made for not only bloom appearance but also the for the art of *dying well*, sometimes referred to as Fading Faire. What this means is that the plantings need to offer texture and structure as the winter months approach and beyond.
Above: Fothergilla gardenii, click here for info about this native shrub.
Trees and shrubs with berries and colorful fall foliage, strong erect stems and seedheads that don’t turn to mush are requirements.
Above: The native Eastern wahoo, Euonymus atropurpureus. Click here for more information about this berry laden beauty.
Our other garden is located in western North Carolina. Gardening is sporadic on the other side of the Smoky Mountains, (there is no E in Smoky). The decision was made in the very beginning to plant only native trees, shrubs and perennials at Fairegarden-NC.
Above: Aster tataricus ‘Jin Dai’, winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’, Echinacea seedheads and Panicums in the background.
There are natives or edibles only, with natives being somewhat loosely defined. Four seasons of interest for this small space were considered with evergreens, berries and tall grasses as the backbone of the plantings.
The house was purchased in December of 2010. Gardening began immediately, of course. Newspapers and mulch were laid over the newly seeded lawn grass. Winterberry hollies and three species of switch grass, Panicum virgatum went into the new bed. More natives have been added over the years. The garden is now full. The story of the garden’s creation can be seen by clicking here.
Above: Winter Red fronted by the well dying Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’
Coneflowers and black eyed susans were added curbside for summer color. A single Aster tataricus ‘Jin Dai’ was brought over from the Tennessee garden to see how it would blend in. It has done well and more may be added if we are too impatient to wait for spreading by root and seed.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better …” oops. Please forgive my slipping into Dickens’ prose, the inspiration for the title of this post. The idea here is to learn to love the remnants that remain as the garden slips into winter. Plant accordingly to make gardening less of a drudge and far, far better by using those plants that do best in your conditions. Look amongst the natives for prime choices. So saith the mockingbird. But that’s another story…