GARDEN: Phase II completed

Early stage bed

Schmedly the Gargoyle finally has a new home.  He adorned an exhibit at Phipps Conservatory before we purchased him in 2009, mossy patina and all, for our own Pembroke Cottage garden. Now surrounded by freshly planted greenery, he stands watch over the alley.

The new back garden bed took a long while to complete. BH and I aren't spring chickens - the only thing we're good for is soup these days.  What was to be a weekend project turned into a month-and-a-half saga of digging, whining, more digging, and frustration. The grass (two layers of sod atop each other) was indeed our biggest nemesis.

We finished it (and dropped in the first two bushes) the day my father returned to the hospital. Mum and I stayed a week at Family House Neville to be close to him in Pittsburgh, and that put the gardening off for a while.  I resolved to complete it before Dad returned home. After all, we have a deal: I promised him that the plants wouldn't die before he returned, and he promised not to die before seeing the completed bed.  Mid-June is horribly late in the season for planting, however.

I'm taking a chance on three goldflame spiraea (Spiraea x bumalda 'Goldflame'). These will serve as a softly mounding backdrop between deck and flowers.

It's a pretty, deciduous shrub. Bronzy-gold foliage emerges in the spring then turns a soft, yellowish-green in the summer. It supposedly finishes in autumn with a coppery-orange hue.  The flowers are crimson pink and bloom throughout the summer.  I'm hoping they'll expand to their full 3' height and 4' width without crowding each other too much.

'Goldflame' spiraea

Two northeast daylily flank the front shrubs.  The 'Pardon me' Hemerocallis hybrid bears one of the deepest red flowers. 'Strawberry Candy' is its partner, a much softer shade of pink.

'Pardon Me'

'Strawberry Candy'

I've added a few 'Stella D'Oro', a common variety of daylily, to accent the bed with bright punches of yellow.

'Stella D'Oro'

A single 'First Glory' speedwell (Veronica 'First Glory' PPAF) sits at the corner to add a dollop of haphazard purple-blue to the mix.  This is my first attempt to grow speedwell - an experiment. The bees seemed to love this at the garden center though I have not seen any visiting it now that it's home.  My guess is that they'll frequent it once the hibiscus at the back of the lot begins to bloom. It should spread 16" high by 18" wide, with any luck.

Veronica 'First Glory' PPAF

Vibrant coneflowers flank the side of the deck. 'Cheyenne Spirit' supposedly does well in this section of Ohio. I'm hoping to see both achieve an average size of 24-36" in height and 18"-24" in width.  They've already sent vibrant orange flowers towards the sky and are currently one of the tallest plants in the bed.

Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit'

A solitary 'Aurora Lavender' Delphinium rests between them to give contrast to the orange and to visually supplement the speedwell's shade   This little perennial is absolutely thriving at the moment.  I should have put more consideration into their height, however, as these can grow up to 3-4' high with a spread of 3'.  Oops.

Delphinium elatum 'Aurora Lavender'

Annuals populate the rest of the bed.  Vinca keeps dianthus and daisy-and-mum shaped plants company. These are all varieties of blue, red, white and yellow. I'll replace them next year with the same plants, but I'll also sink in some lamb's ear and low-growing mounds of whatever catches my fancy.  I carried the vinca out to surround the new tree.

The addition of solar lights and some yard art completes the picture.  I even managed to get bark around the hibiscus to cut down on the amount of weed-whacking.  The hanging tomato plant is thriving. We should see fruit ripen in the next few weeks.

There is still plenty to do. BH and I want to find a red clematis for the bed by the garage.  We'll eventually expand the hibiscus bed to incorporate some "monster" hasta.  And, of course, we need to dig around the annoying wire fence to sink in a plastic border. This should save us having to replace the fence after the weed trimmer takes out the wire.

All these projects can wait until fall. We'll enjoy what we have for now.