Friday, January 13, 2012
Backyard Renovation: Part 2
Ok, I have a confession to make...I totally intended these Backyard Renovation posts to be completed in 2 posts...but, as usual, it's taking me more time than I anticipated to complete the 2nd part (a hectic week at work didn't help). Therefore, I'm dividing the Backyard Reno into 3 posts! Honestly, cramming everything I wanted to cover into this post would have made it redonkulously long anyway (and I'm already guilty of too many monster-mega-posts)! This post is going to focus on the plants I chose to use in the backyard. The next (and last) post in this series will be about the finished product...woohoo!
How could I possibly have a garden without Agastache...well, I can't! I knew before I even started this garden that I wanted Agastaches to figure prominently in the design. Last fall, as I was drafting plan after plan for the plantings, I got the new catalogue from High Country Gardens. I was instantly drawn to one of their new introductions, 'Blue Blazes'. The rich, intense color and large size made it an instant buy. I also decided to try out one of their other Agastaches, 'Ava'. Even though not in my original plan, I also purchase a trio of 'Purple Haze' this spring at a local nursery. I was bewitched by the deep, sultry coloring of its foliage...and just hoped the flowers were even half as good as the leaves!
As it turns out, all of these Agastaches did AMAZING. I was blown away at how vigorous and floriferous they were, even in their first year. A few 'Blue Blazes' even topped 6' this year! 'Ava' grew to an impressive 4-5'. And the blossoms...such wonderful, rich colors...and they didn't fade in the sun like many Agastaches tend to do. I love them both. 'Purple Haze' also proved to be worth its weight in gold. It grows much fuller and more compactly than the other two, and blooms heavily in a wonderful smoky purple.
I'm amazed at how much I've come to rely on Geraniums for long-lasting color in my garden. I love how they form rich, emerald-green carpets of foliage, covering the bare ground...and even more, I love how they mingle with other plants without smothering them. Of course, I gush about 'Rozanne' all the time on this blog...suffice it to say, she's a staple here on Rhone Street. I'd become interested in Geranium macrorrhizum earlier last year, as much for the wonderful, evergreen foliage as for the richly-colored blooms. I happen to love the scent of the leaves (sort of a woodsy, incense-like smell), however, I've been told that quite a few people don't care for it. Geranium wllasovianum's claim to fame (aside from being both un-pronouncable and un-spellable) is it's wonderful rich fall foliage. The blooms are nice too :-)
If there's any one group of plants I can't live without, it's the grasses. Now, I have to admit that at least one of these grasses (the Stipa gigantia) is actually not going to stay in this spot! I've been wanting one for a while, but never saw it for sale around Portland. This spring, when I finally found some, I snatched one up and planted it in the backyard until I could find a better place for it the following year.Sadly, it's mature size is much too big for this space, and it would overwhelm the backyard. I'll probably replace it with one of the smaller Pennisetums ('Hameln' or 'Karley Rose').
Since many of the plants I was using throughout the garden have a very "relaxed" attitude, I wanted some really upright, structural grasses to contrast with them…and to make the garden feel a little less chaotic. I settle on Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster', with it's wonderful, tall seed heads. They grew huge and lush…and even though they get far less than full sun, never flop. LOVE THEM! I adore how, even though they are very sturdy and upright, the seed heads have a tendency to splay open at times…which gives a wonderful, naturalistic effect to the garden.
I bought Anemanthele lessoniana in a fit of lust at the spring HPSO plant sale. I'm crazy about it's wonderful amber-colored foliage. Towards the end of the summer, I realized the north section of the garden, which I has thought was very shady, actually gets quite a bit of sun during high summer…and, honestly, the spot needed some verticality to visually "lift" it up. What did I do…planted more grasses is what! I added a trio of Panicum 'Northwind'…so beautiful with their statuesque form and rich golden fall coloring.
Part of the fun of having a beautiful new fence is completely covering it with vines…right!?! I had actually planted the Clematis the previous summer after spying it at a local nursery and falling in love with a huge, mature specimen at Cistus Nursery. I've always love the rich, autumn coloring of the Parthenocissus…so knew I would get one of those as well. The cute little Dicentra was actually a gift from Ryan Miller…isn't it rad!
Ah yes, another one of my new loves…the Astrantias! I've been very surprised at just how tough and adaptable these puppies are. It was especially welcome once I realized that the spot they were in, which was full shade until about May, was pretty much full sun from June-August…oops. Regardless, with a little extra water, they didn't bat an eyelash…blooming for months on end. The only one that seemed a bit displeased with the sun was Astrantia maxima…although, even though it sulked a bit during the hottest part of the day, still managed to triple in size during summer.
Lastly, I have a few stragglers that didn't quite fit into any category. The Vernonias are awesomely tall and have gloriously rich violet flowers. 'Purple Majesty' Salvia has amazing rich, velvety purple blooms...they are too good to miss.
I almost always have a few Sedums in the garden, and this year decided to try 'Matrona'. It has wonderful pewter foliage that stands out amidst all the green. Plus, it's a beefier, taller Sedum than most, which I love. 'Lollipop' is a dwarf version of Verbena bonariensis, a it turns out that they are the perfect height for the tight space of the backyard garden.
While I started a few Knautia 'Melton's Pastels' from seed to plant in the backyard, I also purchased a few starter plants early this spring...just in case. Although the 'Meltons' Pastels' seedlings grew and grew, they haven't flowered yet. The Knautia starter plants, however, grew like weeds! I totally love how they throw up long-stemmed wands of ruby-colored flowers. They have a wonderful, carefree look I love. I've always coveted the dark-leaved Cimicifuga (Actaea) in other people's gardens...and now I have one! I can't get over how amazing its foliage is...I want a million of them!
Lastly, I have a plant that was gifted to me by none other than Mr. Impatiens himself. I had mentioned that I couldn't find any Impatiens balfourii for sale last year. Lo and behold, he brought a few seedlings from his very own garden. I know I will probably kick myself next year that I planted them, since they are supposed to reseed like there's no tomorrow. I'll think about that tomorrow...for now...aren't they pretty!
Alright...there are all the plants that I used...in the next post...the finished (sorta) product!!!!!
BTW...for all of you who got a weird message when visiting that requested a password for MuckAbout (or somthing like that), I apologize...one of the blogs in my feed was apparently doing that for anyone who hadn't logged on to WordPress as the feed attempted to load. I've removed that feed, so hopefully that will resolve the issue...hopefully :-)