The Arch City Gardener

Journeys In St. Louis Gardening and Beyond


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April Progress Report

Flagstone finished (960x1280)I’ve embarked on a garden improvement plan, but then what gardener hasn’t? Tired of struggling with the slow fill in of the big bed that runs the length of the patio, I decided it needed some help filling in and plants weren’t going to do it.

Rabbits have gotten fat off of hearty helpings of the liriope planted in a ring around the Japanese maple. And not just this year. They’ve been munching on the liriope since they discovered them in 2013. Enough! No longer an enabler, I dug them up and gave them to a friend. They don’t bother the liriope planted up near the house but I think they’re too afraid to get near the door.

The growing maple cast too much shade on the zebra grass planted in the back of the bed. It is now positioned in front of the tree where there’s more sun throughout the day. Haphazardly planted daylilies (a gift from my neighbor) have been moved together for a more cohesive look.

flagstone I (960x1280)Suddenly I was left with lots of space around the tree. And I discovered two flagstone castoffs in the back of the yard. Well, you know the rest of the story. A quick trip to the nearby materials supply store and I was off to the races. Fortunately the ground is still soft and the soil is pretty good–not the rock hard, compacted clay I encountered when I started this bed in 2012.

“Walkers Low” catmint (Nepeta recemosa), “Maggie Daley” astilbe and “Amethyst” astilbe x arendsii, and lady’s mantle (alchemilla mollis) will find a home in the bed alongside roses, coneflower (echinacea), liatris, coreoposis, dianthus, “Little Joe” pye weed (eupatorium) and black eyed susans (rudbeckia) that are planted among the Little Lamb and Little Lime hydrangea.

Here’s a picture of the path before the flagstone was dug into place. (As a side note, I can’t believe how much the maple has leafed out in the past week. I love its dark maroon leaves.)

flagstone II (960x1280).jpg

I moved those suckers into several arrangements before deciding on this layout. Their heft is deceptive; the materials guy told me in total they weighed more than 225 pounds.

The addition of a couple of rain barrels, my great vegetable experiment and–coming soon!–the addition of a paperbark maple have also filled my weekends. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on these adventures.

As always, thanks for reading.

 

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The Garden in Time

One of the benefits of a Midwest garden is the beauty each season brings. Here’s a look back at one garden bed as it appeared throughout 2014.

Late winter 2013 and spring can't get here soon enough.

Late winter 2013 and spring can’t get here soon enough.

The newly planted foxglove provided lots to look at as the garden got under way in spring. I love the maroon shades of the maple with the blue of the spruce

The newly planted foxglove provided lots to look at as the garden got under way in spring. I love the maroon shades of the maple with the blue of the spruce

Happy summer hydrangea. Little Lamb and Little Lime wind throughout the bed.

Happy summer hydrangea. Little Lamb and Little Lime wind throughout the bed.

I under-estimated just how many plants I will need and how long it will take to fill in this bed.

I underestimated just how many plants I will need and how long it will take to fill in this bed.  I also miscalculated on how large this penstemon would get. I moved her to the back in the fall.

The gayfeather returned this year...I still never really believe the stuff I put in the year before will come back.

The gayfeather returned this year…I still never really believe the stuff I put in the year before will come back.

A close up of texture and shapes. To keep in the garden or snip to add to a vase?

A close up of texture and shapes. To keep in the garden or snip to add to a vase?

Anchoring the south edge of the patio bed, the rudbeckia is a profusion of blooms in the hottest month of the summer.

Anchoring the south edge of the patio bed, the rudbeckia is a profusion of blooms in the hottest month of the summer.

As summer give way to autumn, the rusty brown plumes on this perennial grass contrast well with the blue spruce

As summer give way to autumn, the rusty brown plumes on this perennial grass contrast well with the blue spruce

The grasses plumes drape gracefully under the weight of a wet snow.

The grasses plumes drape gracefully under the weight of a wet snow.

The muted tones of fall beneath a blanket of snow: Harvest brown foliage and faded hydrangea blooms and the tall maple at the top of the bed; maroon leaves on the Japanese maple; and the tall pine in my neighbor's yard.

The muted tones of fall beneath a blanket of snow: Harvest brown foliage and faded hydrangea blooms and the tall maple at the top of the bed; maroon leaves on the Japanese maple; and the tall pine in my neighbor’s yard.


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Surprise! When Impulse Purchases Reward

Asiatic LiliesHave one of your impulsive, surprise purchases given you more pleasure than you imagined?  Who knew a four-inch potted Asiatic lily picked off of a clearance table for under $2 could provide such pleasure. This plant certainly lives up to its reputation as easy care. I did not plant it in the garden or even repot it; I just ignored it.

By late summer the pathetic looking lily was drooping and devoid of any bloom.  We had suffered through a miserable summer with temperatures pushing beyond 100 degrees F for several days and several weeks of temperatures in the 90s. I was spending my time moving the soaker hoses around to make sure my newly planted Japanese maple, hyrdrangeas and roses would be adequately quenched. Cast off to the side, I was not faithful in watering the lily and had read nothing about how to care for this plant. Finally, early fall came and thinking the poor thing was pretty much a goner, I planted it my garden bed as a last act of salvation. And, of course, I forgot about it.

Last spring, lo and behold, this little wonder pushed up several stalks, their spikey leaves giving no doubt they not only survived the winter-over in the bed but multiplied! Who knew? I waited, anticipating its color, which the label did not include. (That’s one of the risks when you buy off the clearance rack). While, I would probably have not selected this maroonish color, that’s the chance I took. And given my mistreatment of it, I could not bring myself to rip it out of the garden bed. It complements the purple barberry in the corner and contrasts nicely with the yellow coreopsis nearby.

As I look forward to spring, I keep checking to see how lily is doing.