It’s the Little Things that Count

Views: 4440

When we were re-doing the garden by our front sidewalk Memorial Day 2016 (see my blog “Countless Shades of Green”), we spent a lot of time (and money) on the large plants – junipers, azaleas, oak leaf hydrangeas. We planted those first, of course, and the bed looked nice…nice, but a bit empty and boring.

The straight sidewalk edge seemed harsh; the mulch was plain, it was blah. Since Wonderful Husband and I have both collected stones (travel rocks) from almost every place we’d ever been, I placed a few of those in what I hoped were artful arrangements. Better. His Aunt Jane’s Chinese lantern was given a nice spot where it could be admired. My smiling Buddha kept his place underneath the Japanese maple.

I stood back and looked at it. What else did it need? It needed little details…something to soften the harsh line of the sidewalk; to draw the eye to behind the junipers and add interest to the back of the bed. Back to the garden center!

Since the front of the bed gets strong noon-time sun, I needed sun to part shade plants there – blue festuca grass (Festuca glauca) seemed like a good choice, made a neat clump, and would pick up the blue-green from the Glauca juniper we’d already planted (which picked up the blue-green from the globe blue spruce I’d moved to the bed).

Two bunches of variegated Siberian Iris provide spikey, vertical interest while picking up the blue-green color again.

Blue-eyed Mary grass (Sisyrinchium augustifolium) is a shade lover, so she went toward the back of the bed. I placed her in open places and underneath larger plants. Blue-eyed Mary also forms a short, neat clump (echoing the shape of the festuca) and has the sweetest little blue blooms with bright yellow centers in June and July. She isn’t really a grass, but a native member of the Iris family – a real charmer!

To add a bit of color, three red to bronze Heucheras underneath the hydrangeas and junipers were planted as a group – it’s a spot that’s also partly sunny and they are doing very well. To echo the shape of those Heucheras, I planted three Caramel Heucheras en masse a little further down. Next was a variegated mounding sedum, also echoing the blue-green and then finally, I added Gold Carpet sedum – a bright chartreuse next to the red and bronze Heucheras and right at the sidewalk border. It adds a “pop” of color and softens the edge of the sidewalk. It gets strong sun and tolerates the hot sidewalk and even a tiny bit of foot traffic.

After one very favorable growing season – it rained nearly every day – the bed looks great, except for the festuca. I’m afraid that the festucas weren’t happy, maybe the bed got too much rain and I suspect that the drainage wasn’t sufficient for this drought-tolerant plant. At any rate, I’ll have to plant something else there.

I learned that the Snow Queen oak leaf hydrangeas grow a little too well and I’ve pruned them back three times to make them bush out and keep them from taking over the bed. I will probably move them this fall and replace them with Ruby Slippers oak leaf hydrangeas, which are supposed to stay small(er). I may have to move some other plants around – I re-arrange plants more often than I re-arrange furniture. This is because I like a nice, full bed and am too impatient to wait for the plants to grow in. So I plant too many and then move them around. There are worse habits to have!

Meet Dona Bergman

Dona's Recent Posts

Ready, Set, Start Over
Read this post
It Had Me at Hello!
Read this post

Membership Has Its Perks

Become a registered user and get access to exclusive benefits like...
  • Ask The Expert Questions
  • Newsletter Archive
  • PlantersPlace Magazine
  • Members Photo Gallery
  • Product Ratings & Reviews
  • Garden Club Samples

More information about flower gardening that you’re going to want