Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Exit The Dragon
It's Fall...and that means many things...but importantly for todays post...it's time to move and plant things!
For the past 2 or 3 years, I've become increasingly aware that the large Persicaria 'Red Dragon' planted in the front border is, in fact, too large and vigorous for that particular spot.
True, in spring and early summer it is gorgeous...a lush and velvety red. It starts growth early and is already 3' tall before other plants are even out of the ground! Look at those smoldering red leaves...I miss it already!
But, by late summer, it starts to expand ever outward, smothering everything in its path. I like how it fills in and ties the garden together, but it crushes plants, and has even bent the stems of the 'Tiger Eye' Sumac down..so they are now lower than there were at the beginning of spring! If I could get back to this area more easily, I could cut it back in mid-summer for a new flush of red foliage and a more compact habit. I have 'Red Dragon' in my north parking strip, and I cut it back any time it gets too rambunctious...and it always responds with fresh, new foliage.
I decided last month that I was going to take it out (luckily another gardener took it, as I don't think I could bear to throw away a perfectly good plant, whose only fault is that I put it in the wrong spot). I thought for quite a while about what to replace it with.
In the end, I actually used a few free plants that I already had...the self-seeded Calamagrostis brachytricha that I extracted from a trio of Panicum 'Huron Solstice' earlier in the month.
I'm very pleased with the effect...and while it definitely won't have the same early-season drama, it will have much better lasting power later in the year. While it looks a tad bare at the moment...these are vigorous grasses...they will completely fill in this area within a few years...I may even have to remove one or two of them as they mature.
I absolutely adore this grass...it's so easy-going and gorgeous. Early on, it's a fairly unassuming mound of arching green blades.
But, starting in August, it mounts a show unrivaled amount the late-blooming grasses...long, arching spears of crystalline beauty. These will last throughout the winter until I cut them down. This remedies a major annoyance with this area. The Sumac defoliates rather early, and the Persicaria turns to mush after the first frost, leaving this area looking pretty bare and ratty throughout winter. Now, I should have great structure and texture until I cut these grasses back in late winter/early spring.
I also removed a large clump of Crocosmia 'Orangeade' that was initially planted under the Sumac...but had been shaded (and crowded) out over the past few years. I divided them up and sent them off to good homes. In their place, some plants that will be better suited for these troublesome conditions, Geranium macrorrhizum and Anemanthele lessoniana. As these get larger, they should provide a lush carpet of leaves, from which the gnarly trunk of the Sumac can emerge.
This is just one of many changes I've made this fall...it really seems that the minute the weather cools and the rains resume, I get the itch to get out in the garden and move things around. What about you...have you undertaken any projects this fall yet?