Front east bed; 12/30/13

Snow covered landscape

As we bear the brunt of another winter storm, I close my eyes and make plans for spring. I’ve already been through the catalogs I’ve received so far and placed my orders. One of the things I do in the process is make a list of what sounds appealing but then I make myself envision where it will go. I find it very helpful to look at the photographs I took last year. That enables me to see if something should be replaced or added.

The bed outside my kitchen faces east and thus receives only morning sun. During the afternoon, it receives mostly bright light but closer to the walk from the driveway, it is quite shady.

Rosa unknown, Aruncus dioicus, Geranium dalmaticum

Rosa unknown, Aruncus dioicus, Geranium dalmaticum

When we moved in thirty years ago, the bed was edged, near the walk, with Pieris japonica. The rest of the bed was filled with groundcover. Boring! The first task was having a sturdy trellis built and attached to the wall so that I could grow a climbing rose and Clematis there as background for the other plants I would be installing.

Rosa unknown

Rosa unknown

Aruncus dioicus in bloom

Aruncus dioicus in bloom

Geranium dalmaticum

Geranium dalmaticum

I love color so my design for that bed included bulbs, hydrangeas, perennials, sedges, and vines that would provide color from April until November. Narcissus supplies my April color. Then, in mid to late May, the pink climbing rose (name lost) and two perennials come into bloom. Aruncus dioicus (Goatsbeard) looks like a white Astilbe on steroids, growing six feet high and wide while Geranium dalmaticum fronts the bed with lobed foliage only three inches high and lavender pink flowers that stay in bloom for at least a month.


Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Billow' and 'Lady in Red', Clematis 'Viola'

Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’ and ‘Lady in Red’, Clematis ‘Viola’

Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Billow'

Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’

Hydrangea 'Lady in Red'

Hydrangea ‘Lady in Red’

Clematis 'Viola'

Clematis ‘Viola’

June is mostly a study in blue and purple. Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’, a lacecap that flaunts medium blue flowers when I remember to amend the soil with aluminum sulfate, anchors the bed on the left while Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lady in Red’ anchors the middle, just left of the Aruncus. In front of it is Baptisia ‘Twilite Prairie Blues’ whose charms are apparent only when very close. This is a perennial I will probably replace. Meanwhile, Clematis viticella ‘Negritjanka‘ with its dark purple flowers is clambering up the rose and Clematis ‘Viola‘ uses its tendrils to climb through the Pieris japonica.

Phlox 'Peppermint Twist' and 'Candy Floss'(? ), Hydrangea 'Lady in Red', Hemerocallis, Filipendula vulgaris 'Aurea'

Phlox ‘Peppermint Twist’ , Hydrangea ‘Lady in Red’, Hemerocallis, Filipendula vulgaris ‘Aurea’

In July and August, Phlox ‘Peppermint Twist’ adds a fillip of bright pink and the foliage of Filipendula vulgaris ‘Aurea’ adds a touch of yellow. At the same time, the purple daylily starts to bloom.

Anemone 'September Charm', Alocasia 'Black Magic', Filipendula ulmaria 'Aurea', Clematis 'Viola'

Anemone ‘September Charm’, Alocasia ‘Black Magic’, Filipendula ulmaria ‘Aurea’, Clematis ‘Viola’

September brings a new set of flowers: pale pink Anemone ‘September Charm’ and Agastache rugosa‘ Alabaster‘, a magnet for butterflies. Clematis ‘Viola’ has strong rebloom in September, thus bringing back some purple.

All of these plants have different textures and forms so that the bed is interesting even when the flowers are in between bloom periods.