Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Exit The Dragon

spring persicaria  3711
It's Fall...and that means many things...but importantly for todays post...it's time to move and plant things!

spring persicaria wide shot  3712
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.

sumac persicaria calamagrostis  1750
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!

red dragon monster  3705
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.

red dragon  3703
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.

pinky calamagrostis  3701
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.

sunrise sumac and calamagrostis  3694
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.

sunny calamagrostis  3711
I absolutely adore this grass...it's so easy-going and gorgeous. Early on, it's a fairly unassuming mound of arching green blades.

calamagrostis brachytricha sunny  3684
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.

under sumac  3709
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.

wide view  3691
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?

39 comments:

  1. That is going to look so delicious when it fills in. You're not going to miss that dragon at all! But I want to know what Boots thinks of it all . . .

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  2. That's what I'm hoping, Heather...oh, and Boots gave it two paws up ;-)

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  3. I feel your pain. Doesn't it stink when you don't have a good place for a fabulous plant? Glad another gardener is making a new home for the Dragon. So these photos are what your garden looks like right now? Sigh - we have snow today.

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  4. What a fabulous and perfect replacement for the Red Dragon! Fills in the vacated space beautifully and ticks all the requirements of the brief. Still preparing for winter here, lots of catching up to do as we've left it quite late this year to start preparing.

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  5. I must have one of your Crocomia , I was wondering which one it is. I'm too wet and cold to move anymore plants around !

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  6. Snow! OMG…that's crazy! It did make me a little sad taking it out…but at least I have another one in the parking strip :-)

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  7. I agree, guys, the replacement is really a much better and more versatile plant for that spot…I hope you can get all your winter prep done in time!

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  8. Yes…that's it, Linda! It will look amazing in your garden!

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  9. Change isn't a bad thing. Sometimes it is refreshing to mix things up a bit and your replacement looks perfect for that space. Now you have something new to look forward to!

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  10. The cooler, wetter weather always invigorates me, but I just haven't had time to tackle the projects left on my list for this year. There's still a chance they'll get done, but will probably move to next year's list instead.

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  11. Absolutely, Lee...I'll admit, I love change...it's invigorating :-)

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  12. Time is always the big limiting factor here too, Alan...especially now when it's dark well before I get home in the evenings...it turns into a rush to get as much done on the weekends as possible.

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  13. I have a 'Red Dragon' planted near my stream, but I've never liked it there. I've never been sure where else to put it. It doesn't get anywhere near as red as your big one that you gave away, and it gets very tall and rangy and top-heavy, with nothing nearby to lean on. It sounds like it might respond well if I cut it back mid-season?

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  14. Aah, Scott, I too set free a Persicaria this fall. Coincidentally replaced it with an orange NZ sedge! I guess you are starting to influence me, which I am grateful for! In a week or so I'll post the last of my fall changes to the garden on the ol' blog. Good for you, it looks fabulous!

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  15. Ahhh…sounds like a few of us have had a time figuring out what to do with 'Red Dragon', Alison! Yes…I'd cut it back hard as soon as it gets too tall and starts to flop over…which is usually about the same time it starts to go green. I cut back the one in the parking strip about twice each summer…and even though it never gets any supplemental water, it still bounces right back :-)

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  16. Haha…great minds think alike, huh? I know I'll miss the Persicaria in that spot…but luckily, I have plenty of others :-) Can't wait for your update!

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  17. Oh dear, I did love the Tiger Eyes against the rich purple background. I do understand: my Persicaria exhibits thuggish ways too, and I never seem to get around to cutting it back as I should.

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  18. I know, Ricki...I'm sure I'll lament it this spring when it's not there...but I did plant a Chocolate Joe Pye weed in that corner...so I'll still have a little dark foliage...just not as early...or vigorous ;-)

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  19. Hey Scott...looks great!...I like Persicaria too, but have had to remove them for clients of mine for the same reasons...that grass you replaced it with looks fantastic... whenever I end up with a plant that doesn't have a place I just compost it...that way it isn't wasted.. Many plants are clones so even if you do have to trash it the genotype is not lost.

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  20. I hear you, Scott. The soil in my garden is so friable and yummy right now. It's the right time to dig, divide, move and replant and also the best time to do the weeding. (If you have weeds and I definitely do.) My only complaint is that it's dark when I get home so the only time I can do anything outdoors now is on the weekend. I love that Persicaria but you're so right. It gets huge. I've got mine situated where I can cut it back when it goes awry. You are so good at using the space in your front yard. It always looks amazing.

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  21. That's true, Preston…I think maybe I'm a little TOO prone to feelings of guilt…like I've failed the plant somehow…even if it's something super common…something you have in every yard…I'm kind of a dork that way :-)

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  22. I feel the same way, Grace…it's so annoying to get off work and it's already pitch black…it's really the only thing I don't like about winter…there's just no daylight…so weekends seem extra busy as we rush to get things done!

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  23. Hi Scott, I love the changes you made to that area. I think I had some
    persicaria like that and decided to take it out, too. I have some
    others that aren't as aggressive, though. You sure have a gift when it
    comes to finding spots for things and taking photos! Thanks for your
    comment on my last post. I can't remember if you have found spots for
    Rudbeckia maxima or Prairie dock. (This is Sue, from A Corner Garden. For some reason, I had to post this from something other than Google.)

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  24. Hi Sue! I wondered who this was at first...the name threw me! It might be because I've switched to a different commenting system...I'll try to figure out why it wasn't letting you comment. It's so true...some of them are just a little TOO eager to survive...but there are quite a few that are amazing garden plants...and I love them :-) I haven't found a spot for those two yet...but eventually, I will :-)

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  25. Buh Bye Dragon! I neglected to cut a couple of mine back and they've taken over huge areas and probably killed everything in their paths. Bad gardener. Each year I threaten to send them to new homes(they're much more polite in the shade.) If this wind and rain thing ever subsides, this may be the year that mine will go too. Like Ricki, I'll miss seeing your spring drama but what you've done looks really gorgeous!

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  26. deereddirtramblingsNovember 7, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Oh gosh Scott, I wrote this long comment, and I think it was eaten. The beastly dragon can be such a garden eater, can't she? I love your grasses. Happy Fall.~~Dee

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  27. I'll miss it greatly in spring too, Peter…it really was stunning…oh well…no regrets, right? ;-)

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  28. Oh no! I'm so sorry, Dee! I think this new commenting systems is a little wonky…I'm hoping to work out the kinks soon! Glad you approve of the grasses :-)

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  29. Every time I come to your blog, I think I simply MUST get some grasses in my garden. My Fall project is to move some/divide Irises from out behind the hydrangea bush and to a new bed.

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  30. I hope you do, Jen…I think you'd enjoy their long-lasting beauty VERY much :-) I did a bit of Iris dividing this year as well…some of the multiply so quickly!

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  31. You must have had a golden light morning... your images are stunning!

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  32. Looks like you made a smart choice. So annoying how plants ignore our wishes on how big they should grow. The Calamagrostis looks like a really good companion for the Sumac even before the leaves fall.

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  33. Great solution! I love the color of the 'Red Dragon,' but it was a little overpowering with the light wispy plants you have in that spot. The grasses look perfect--especially with the oblique autumn light shining through them.

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  34. Thanks, Jason...we're always adjusting things, aren't we...the dedicated gardener never rests ;-)

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  35. Thanks...I totally agree...as much as I loved 'Red Dragon' there...it just wasn't quite the right plant for that location :-)

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  36. Donna@Gardens Eye ViewNovember 10, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    Scott I love the last shot...gorgeous fall colors. We added another veg bed but not much time for projects...I love to move plants but ran out of time and now it is either cold or wet. Hoping for one good weekend to finish a few chores.

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  37. Hi, Donna! I know how you feel, a little rain won't keep me inside…but if it's too wet, I relent…it's never fun getting soaked (and muddy) in the garden!

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  38. Wow, Scott--the last photo just gave me an incredible case of autumn color envy! Gorgeous! I, too, need to get rid of some garden bullies--but it's so hard when they work well early in the season, although they take over when it's too late to move them. Now that we've had our first hard frost in SC, it's a little easier to move them out. Love the grasses!

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  39. I totally agree, Julie...it's so hard to remove something knowing that you'll miss them in spring!

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