While I was working in the garden this fall, catching up with the weeds and severely pruning some Pieris japonica that had severe dieback, I meant to make note of areas that were now bare in order to plan ahead for Spring. Did I do it? Of course not. So now, I have to try to remember where those areas were and what my thoughts were for those empty spaces.

As you can see, there is a lot of empty space behind the Pieris.

The area in back of and under the Pieris is much more open now but as the Pieris regenerate (I hope!), it will become shady again. Although that area is irrigated, the Pieris roots are so old and extensive they suck up most of the moisture so I have to think dry shade. Perhaps Athryium ‘Ghost’ for its silvery color, Carex ‘Feather Falls’ for its variegation, Heuchera ‘Primo Wild Rose’ for its purply pinkness, and Astilbe ‘Visions’ for its bright color and its ability to spread. I considered some other possibilities but what most helped me decide was the ability to copy photos from my digital library onto a blank Word document, putting the photos side by side.  You can always copy photos from the web and do the same thing.


Possible combo for empty space behind the Pieris.
Dendrathema ‘Warm Igloo’, Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’, Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’,
  Aster ‘Hella Lacy’ and Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’.

Another space that I recall is in front of the garage where the sun shines most of the day. I’ve had Aster ‘Hella Lacy’ there for years and I love its deep purple  color but it is quite aggressive and difficult to control. So-o-o, I dug it all up (I hope) and transplanted it to the back of that bed where I want it to spread. The empty space cries out for another purple. If you look at the before photo, you can see that it complements the shorter but pale purple Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’. I’m thinking Agastache ‘Purple Haze’ and hoping that the soil won’t be too wet for it. I’ll probably add some Turface in that spot to increase the drainage. While looking at the photo of that bed, I noticed that I had planted some Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’ in front of the hydrangea that year but neglected to continue the practice. Thus, note to self to replant; it is an annual, after all. Sadly, it does not reseed.

Agastache ‘Purple Haze’ as possible companion for Aster ‘October Skies’.

I also recall that when visiting a client this fall, I saw the Chrysanthemum ‘Mary Stoker’ that we had planted the previous year. It reminded me that I used to have this old-fashioned mum and loved it so I need to find a space for it. I’m a sucker for apricot flowers and this mum starts blooming in August  and continues through October. It can get gangly if planted in partial shade so best to prune it in half in June.


Chrysanthemum rubellum ‘Mary Stoker’, zinnias, Alyssum, Rudbeckia subtomentosa
  ‘Little Henry’ in mid-October in client’s garden.

The snow was deep but since it has started raining and will for the next few days, I’ve been inspired to  start my planning for changes in the garden this year. Have you started yours?