The Arch City Gardener

Journeys In St. Louis Gardening and Beyond


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Making Progress in the Garden

I’ve written much about the bed that faces east and south beneath the den windows and the large bed that lies opposite it and runs the length of the patio. But my “vision” is to wrap gardens around the back of the house; to update the old railroad-tie, raised bed; and to build a bed along the south fence. Ambitious, I know. Rome was not built in a day and neither is this garden.

I imagine all gardeners are familiar with the three year adage: “First year sleeping, second year creeping, third year leaping.” 2014 was year three and I am pleased with much of the leaping that occurred. Take a look.

Just getting started in year one. A blank slate is fun.

Just getting started in year one. A blank slate is fun.

Second year creeping.

Second year creeping.

My "vision" is to wrap gardens around the house. The blue door is the entry to the den, which faces east.

My “vision” is to wrap gardens around the house. The blue door is the entry to the den, which faces east.

On the north side of the den, I planted a lovely oakleaf hydrangea (“Alice”), one Knockout rose bush and perennials in 2012. My thought was that the oakleaf would be a screen and behind it would be my potting shelves and storage for the trash cans. Because I am the youngest of two sisters who have great sensibilities, I listened when they observed that seeing the trash cans first thing upon entering the gate gives a less than stellar first impression of the garden.

My thought in planting the oakleaf hydrangea (in the back of photo) was to create a screen to hide the potting shelves and trash cans.

My thought in planting the oakleaf hydrangea (in the back of photo) was to create a screen to hide the potting shelves and trash cans.

The view from the gate...not a welcome one, according to my older and wiser sisters. A clean up of the area commenced in 2014, and plantings were installed.

The view from the gate…not a welcome one, according to my older and wiser sisters. A clean up of the area commenced in 2014, and plantings were installed.

The "after" look includes plantings of hosta, heuchera, astilbe and ferns.

The “after” look includes plantings of hosta, heuchera, astilbe and ferns. The oakleaf has turned into a godzilla of sorts, devouring the hostas with its branches. I will move all the hosts in the spring.

So two seasons later, I heeded their advice and extended the bed and moved the trash cans and shelves. My gardening style tends to be experimental in that I will place several specimens in a bed to see how they behave. The back end of the bed is shaded. In fact, the oakleaf pretty well grabs the last of the sun as the bed turns north facing. I expect to move many of these shade lovers to a new bed I am building on the south side of the yard (more on that in another post). In fact, I am contemplating removing the smaller-sized plants and moving an azalea in here. I think the balance will be better.

I look forward to sharing with you my plans for some new garden spaces in 2015 and hearing your comments. Thanks for reading.

 

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5 Plants I’m Obsessed With

Stealing a line from Bravo TV host and hometown son Andy Cohen, I am obsessed with these five plants for the garden:

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1. Tall garden phlox. The color range available and the lovely “eyes” of  tall garden phlox make my heart skip a beat. These tall wonders are first on my list for an after-work garden stroll. They are fragrant and mingle delightfully among the Russian sage, bee balm and Stella de Oro daylily. While I enjoy them most in the garden, they hold up well in a cut arrangement gracing the dining table.

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2. Hosta, “Dorothy Benedict”. This beauty seems to have it all. It looks like a painting with streaks of bright green-yellow, blue-green and green-green interspersed with white. Leaves are textured, edges are smooth. Pop it into the shade garden and gaze away. What’s not to love? Oh yeah, the price (I’ve seen Dorothy Benedict quoted at $200-$500).

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3. Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis). Chartreuse-hued plants work well in a wide range of applications in the garden. Contrast this plant with cool blue-tinged foliage or the deep purples of “Mainacht” salvia. Or complement lady’s mantle with bursting colors such as bright pink Knockout roses. The old-fashioned girl will make its way into the garden this year.

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4. Kobold Gayfeather (Liatris spicata). I like spikes, and this plant delivers. Commonly known as blazing star, it pushes forth a stalk that really is a bunch of rounded flower heads that are fun to watch unfold from the top down. It attracts butterflies and works well in clay soil. Kobold is a compact version of liatris, and I am told this plant does not need staking, another bonus.

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5. Foxglove (Digitalis). The tubular bells on this biennual are nothing short of amazing. The freckles on the inside if the bloom spill forward on these charming flower spikes will be the perfect addition to my cottage garden. I grew them years ago in my backyard garden in Palatine, IL. Why I haven’t introduced them to my St. Louis landscapes escapes me. But that’s about to change.