Wednesday, September 12, 2012
The Trouble Area
September is a cruel month here in Portland. After our long, dry summers...I really start to long for the rains of autumn. These past few weeks, we've been teased with cooler temps...but today and tomorrow are going to be pushing 90.
The worst part, for me, is that this is the time where I can really take stock of what is and isn't working...and I REALLY want to move things around! Even though I know better, I actually took a shovel out this weekend...just to test the waters, so to speak. It was like trying to drive a shovel into cement...that is, not happening!
Same area, from other direction
In any case, it doesn't stop me from wandering around, trying to figure out what to move where...and in many cases, what to swap it with. Case in point, the area above. This part of the garden looked great for the past two years, however, the Agastache 'Golden Jubilee', which acted as a nice vertical anchor was very weak this year. It was actually that way with all my 'Golden Jubilee', which I can only attribute to our lack of good winter chill this past winter. I've decided to move it somewhere else, and have been trying to decide what to put in it's place.
The Trouble Area with Eutrochrium
The spot has bizarre light conditions (like so much of the garden). It gets part-sun (about 5-6 hours) from June-August (the hottest part of the year), but is pretty much full shade for the rest of the time. So, the plant needs to be tough enough to stand the sun during summer, but able to grow in shade until then...and not flop like a drunken sailor!
The first plant I considered was Eutrochium rugosum (Chocolate Joe Pye Weed). I already have several of this plant in my garden, and it performs admirably...coping with varying light levels and looking smashing. I like the idea of it acting like a nice, dark visual "stop" in the area, and it even has decent fall color. The only real downside, really, is that it has very little winter presence.
The Trouble Area with Calamagrostis
Another plant I've been considering is Calamagrostis brachytricha (Korean Feather Grass). When I originally considered what to plant in this spot, my first thought was of grasses...however, I think the shade early in the growing season would lead to floppy growth from most of them. This particular grass, however, does fairly well in quite a bit of shade. It doesn't bloom as early as most Calamagrostis...but makes up for it with spectacular spear-shaped blooms in early autumn. The biggest selling-point is that it will provide good winter presence. Even before blooming, the linear quality of the foliage will be a nice calming influence.
What do you all think...do you like either of these options...neither of them...or do you have something even better!!!???!!! Let me know...I'd love some more input. I should mention that the area is only about 2' wide...so plan accordingly ;-)
Of course, being me, I reserve the right to be completely contradictory and plant something totally inappropriate anyway ;-)